New Mexico – The U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs has distributed the first installment of a three-year, $1.6 million grant to the New Mexico Veterans' Integration Center.
The center currently is leasing 31 rooms in an Albuquerque hotel and will use the funds to expand to a planned 50-room capacity.
State Veterans' Services Secretary John Garcia calls the grant a Christmas gift for veterans in need.
The state Department of Veterans Services works with the state Department of Workforce Solutions in operating the center and helping the estimated 7,000 homeless veterans in New Mexico.
The center provides shelter, counseling, employment help and life-skills assistance to help its residents return to society.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.