Garcia, a Vietnam veteran, was appointed secretary in 2004. He had owned his own business and had been the state secretary of Economic Development.
In 2005, the Department of Defense held a national conference for veterans who owned businesses to explain all the benefits available to boost their businesses.
"They expected 400 people to show up and they had 800 small-business (owning) veterans shown up," Garcia said. "I listened and I saw what they had to offer, but I wondered how are they going to implement it at the state level. It was great at the federal level."
He came back and decided to target veterans in business. His agency partnered with Development Centers and with the SBA and others to set up VETPro, the Veterans Enterprise Training Program. They held a state Veteran Business conference in 2005. They've held two more of the conferences since then, one each year.
During the gatherings, they have what Garcia called "matchmaking," where veterans vendors meet with the federal entities that need their goods and services.
In addition to the annual conferences, the N.M. Department of Veterans Services worked with the Small Business Development Centers to present entrepreneurial training to veterans at locations around the state.
Another recent benefit for veterans is the SBA's Patriot Express loan program. It offers a streamlined application process with a lower interest rate and a higher guarantee for the bank or financial institution lending the money. In additional, a couple of local financial institutions are offering even qualifying veterans.