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Inside Olympia–Dept. of Veterans Affairs Director David Puente

Born to a migrant farmworker family in Florida, he joined the Army and became a military policeman. While stationed in Texas, he applied for a job as a bilingual workers’ compensation fraud investigator in Washington state with the state Department of Labor & Industries. From there, he joined the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) as deputy director, and was appointed director of the agency by Governor Jay Inslee in February 2023.


This week, during Military Appreciation Month, host Austin Jenkins sits down for the full hour with WDVA Director David Puente. He considers the job an honor, and says, “You don’t see many of us,” that is Mexican Americans, in leadership roles at state government agencies.


Puente shares the agency’s priorities, including working to prevent veteran suicides, managing the state’s four veterans homes, helping veterans struggling with homelessness and substance abuse, better connecting veterans with their service branch, and possibly siting a new state-run veterans cemetery in the Tri-Cities area.