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Recognizing a lifetime of service

Joseph Suina Medal Ceremony
PHOTO: Former Cochiti Pueblo Governor and U.S. Marine Corps and Vietnam Veteran Dr. Joseph Suina is presented with service medals he earned through his military service, March 22, 2024.
Dear Friend,

Last week, at a ceremony at the New Mexico Veterans Memorial in Albuquerque, my office presented former Cochiti Pueblo Governor and U.S. Marine Corps and Vietnam Veteran Dr. Joseph Suina with medals he earned through his service to our nation.

After he enlisted in the Marines, Dr. Suina served two tours of duty in Vietnam in 1964 and 1966. He was wounded in his second tour and earned the Purple Heart Medal, one of our nation’s oldest and most distinguished medals, awarded to U.S. service members who have been wounded or killed as the result of enemy action.

Suina Service Medals
PHOTO: Service medals, including the Purple Heart Medal (top left), that Dr. Joseph Suina earned as a Marine in Vietnam. U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich recently helped to retrieve replacement medals for Dr. Suina after his original medals were stolen, March 22, 2024.
Unfortunately, back in the 1970s, Dr. Suina’s service medals were stolen, including the Purple Heart. I was honored to help retrieve these medals that recognize Dr. Suina’s incredible bravery and sacrifices.

If you or a veteran in your family needs similar help navigating and speeding up the process to replace lost or stolen service medals, I encourage you to please contact me by calling 505-346-6601 or visiting my website to learn more about my office’s Medal Retrieval Assistance program.

As I noted in a speech on the Senate floor last week, Dr. Suina’s contributions to our nation extend well beyond his military service. Following his time in the Marines, Dr. Suina served as Governor for his Pueblo and Tribal Councilmember. He led the Cochiti Community Development Corporation and chaired the Cochiti Language Revival Committee.
Dr Suina Floor Speech
VIDEO: U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich recognizes Dr. Joseph Suina’s service to our nation on the Senate Floor, March 21, 2024.
Dr. Suina also served for many years as a professor at the University of New Mexico’s College of Education and as the Director of the Institute for American Indian Education. He has mentored countless teachers whose work continues to make a difference for so many children and improve educational outcomes for Native students in particular.

The legacy of Dr. Suina’s service to Cochiti Pueblo, to New Mexico, and to our nation will be felt for generations to come. I am so proud to help bring some overdue recognition to this incredible New Mexican.


United States Senator