Committee for Veterans' Advocacy

Chair: Rodolpho ‘Rudy’ S. Martinez

Rudy Martinez is a Vietnam veteran who served for four years on active duty in logistics with the U.S. Air Force, including with the 457th Tactical Air Support Squadron, Cam Rahn Bay. Rudy is a life-long resident of NM, has a B.S. degree from Western New Mexico University, and has been active in public service for over 27 years. He served as Bayard City Councilor, Mayor of Bayard, Chair of the Grant County Commission, and Representative for HD 39 for 12 years. During his legislative career, Rep. Martinez proudly served as Chair of the Military Affairs and Veterans interim committee championing critical issues for fellow veterans and fighting to preserve their rights. Rudy is a past Treasurer for Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 358 and a lifetime member of Disabled American Veterans Chapter 1.

Rudy’s leadership, expertise, network, and passion enable our Caucus mission of outreach both to members and legislators, which strengthens our advocacy on behalf of the VMF community across NM.

Vice Chair: Dorothy Seaton

Dorothy Seaton, MAJ (ret), is a Vietnam-era veteran who enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army in 1971, attended Women’s Army Corps (WAC) basic training, and served on active duty as a medical records photographer at Brooke Army Medical Center. After active duty she joined the National Guard, served in four different states, earned her Bachelor and Master degrees, was commissioned, and commanded a Public Affairs Detachment. Dorothy is an award-winning Army photojournalist, an editor, and was New Mexico’s Public Affairs Officer (PAO).

Dorothy is a past President of the Bataan Chapter of the American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER), past Vice President of Women Veterans of New Mexico, and continues to serve veterans as a leader in our Caucus. She is the CVA Vice Chair, a Bill Manager for HJR 2 (Veterans Pension Tax Relief) and HJR 3 (Disabled Veterans Property Tax Relief), the CD3 Representative on the Bylaws Review committee, and applies her PAO magic liberally to the Caucus’s benefit.

Project Manager: Penn Baker

Penn Baker, MM1 (SS), is a Vietnam-era veteran who served in the U.S. Navy as a Machinist Mate for seven years onboard Ballistic Missile Submarines. After the Navy, Penn worked in the commercial nuclear industry as a Senior Project Manager deploying large data management systems in North America and overseas. Through the management of those installations Penn learned the value of building large, diverse teams to tackle tough challenges and develop effective processes and solutions.  While managing those teams, Penn completed Gender Confirmation Surgery in 2000.  Penn and Dorothee celebrated 50 years of marriage in 2020 and look forward to taking a celebratory trip when travel abroad resumes.  

Penn is the President of the Bataan Chapter of the American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER) and the National Transgender Liaison to AVER.  Penn brings years of experience and exceptional management skills to the Caucus and this committee, which is focused on guiding bills important to our veterans and their families through the New Mexico legislature.

Bill Analyst and Tracker: Joan Dickerson

Joan Dickerson is a military family member twice over.  Her stepfather, who raised her, was a career USAF officer, and her wife is a veteran who had a 21-year career with the Army.  Joan worked over 30 years for the state of Texas and held positions such as IT Help Desk professional, Business Analyst, and Project Management Support professional.  Joan retired from her work in Texas, moved to Santa Fe NM seven years ago, and worked with Conservation Voters NM as a Legislative Aide and Bill Analyst. Joan is a supporting member of the American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER) and she volunteers as a Bill Analyst and Tracker for the Audubon Southwest’s New Mexico policy manager.

Joan brings her expertise to the Caucus as our Bill Analyst and Tracker. She is the driving force keeping the CVA current on relevant legislation during the session, which enables us to both assist legislative bill sponsors and rally members to testify.

Legislative Bill Manager: Dick Wilkinson

Dick Wilkinson, CWO4 (ret), served on active duty for 20 years as a Signals Intelligence Officer in the U.S. Army. He had diverse assignments all over the world, including a combat tour in Afghanistan, and he could tell us more – but we don’t hold those clearances anymore! Dick finished his career testing cutting-edge technology for the DOD at Kirtland Air Force Base and now serves New Mexico as the Chief Technology Officer for the Supreme Court. He also serves on our Caucus because he recognizes the long and proud history of military service by New Mexicans and he wants to make sure our community takes care of those who have taken care of us.

Dick is the Bill Manager for HB120 that expands easy access to professional licenses for military family members that have moved to New Mexico, as well as two bills that improve educational support for children of military families, the Purple Star Program (SB 271) and Advanced Student Enrollment (SB 272). 

Advisor to the NM Senate: Senator Harold Pope, Jr.

Harold Pope Jr., Capt (ret), is a USAF veteran who served in both the enlisted (dental technician) and officer ranks (acquisition, chemist, security cooperation) on both active duty and in the reserves. He retired at Kirtland AFB in 2018 with over 20 years of honorable service. Harold has served in leadership and volunteer positions locally and regionally throughout his military career and since. He was appointed and served as Mayor Keller’s Facilities Transition Advisor and is a substitute teacher for APS. In 2020 he beat the incumbent in SD 23 and now serves as a NM Senator.

Senator Pope brings his visionary leadership, extensive experience, and a deep commitment to service both to the Roundhouse and to our Caucus. He serves as our Advisor to the NM Senate and is sponsoring numerous bills that will be of real value to our veterans, active-duty military and family members, and strengthen the relationship between our community and the state.