Here at Navajo Council Health, Education and Human Services Committee where Committee is hearing report from Eastern Navajo Agency Veterans Organization.
EASTERN VETERANS’ AGENCY ORGANIZATION CHARLES LONG
We talk to veterans about Navajo Nation Veterans Trust Fund and how it cannot be accessed unless 2/3 of Navajo voters approve. Many of our veterans are passing away with financial assistance and if we cud dip into Trust Fund, we cud have bigger homes for veterans with appliances. Maybe Eastern Navajo Veterans cud work with this Committee to open Veterans Trust Fund and I want to emphasize that we stand for transparency.
DR. FRANKLIN FREELAND, SECRETARY FOR EASTERN VETERANS ORGANIZATION
Navajo Veterans Act was worked on and we’d like Council to approve Act. In the past, we tried to get five Veterans’ organizations approve. As read this proposed Act, it states that each agency would organize itself as profit or non-profit organization. And that Veterans Trust Funds would go to each agency Veterans organizations, which would use the Five Management System to be accountable for Trust Fund and to use it.
Act would have Navajo government recognize agency veterans’ organizations and that would help chapters provide funds for veterans to each of their agency veterans’ organizations.
And staff for Navajo Veterans Affairs would not be replaced. We support staff. We want funds from Veterans Trust Fund to come directly to each agency veterans’ organizations so could use to leverage funds from states, such as New Mexico to supplement housing project.
Eastern Veterans’ Agency would be pilot and if other agency veterans’ organizations would like to be part of this pilot project, that would be welcome.
EASTERN VETERANS’ AGENCY ORGANIZATION COMMANDER JACKSON GIBSON, VIETNAM VETERAN
we are concerned about Memorandum of Understanding between Indian Health Services and Veterans Administration Hospital because these two medical entities don’t seem to know what each is doing with veterans. There will be hearing in July or August by New Mexico State Indian Affairs Committee to hear from veterans about health care. One big medical issue is PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder. And we expect to have a huge number of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan wars returning with PTSD. Also Eastern Agency Veterans Organization is working on a much needed military cemetary.
LEGISLATIVE ATTORNEY MARIAN KAHN
when navajo nation create entity, navajo justice department must review it for placement in executive branch. and so the proposed Act is still under review.
HEHS CHAIRPERSON HALE
when go to veterans’ meeting, hear complaints that veterans groups have to jump thru hoops and hear chapters tell veterans’ that it is chapter money and not veterans’ money. and then those funds allocated by Council for veterans are being spend for other purposes by chapters. so why veterans groups asking for recognition. So it’s like a power struggle. and now tribal elections are ongoing. so will the veterans be told by candidates that if veterans vote for him or her that this ACT will get passed?
HEHS COMMITTEE MEMBER DELEGATE WITHERSPOON
The Act speaks to being created as an enterprise, corporation. I do support that. I believe I would want all things in place, such as polices that includes what Eastern Veterans recommend which is Five Management System, along with audits, reviews, sanctioning if need if mismanagement.but it takes financial management. and what is proposed here is not near what needed to turn over Navajo Veterans Trust Fund.
HEHS COMMITTEE VICE CHAIRPERSON CHARLES DAMON II
Think about what asking? If separate from Navajo government, will that impact a veteran who asks for a homesite lease? And tribal Justice Department attorney Henry Howe’s opinion and it is just an opinion, i don’t agree that Navajo veterans organizations are not part of the Navajo Nation.
HEHS COMMITTEE MEMBER PHELPS
like you said, we have been discussing this Act for past 30 years, and this Act came from discussions of Navajo veterans and so it is not that far fetched. If look at how Veterans’ Trust funds divided up, a certain amount goes to chapters. And if interest is to manage Trust Fund, then that
CHIEF LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL LEVON HENRY
in what Council passed for establishment of Veterans Affairs is very different from what Act would create, which would be a Navajo Veterans’ coroporation that could access the Veteran’s Trust Fund. I can tell you after my quick look at proposed Act that I’m not sure that corporate structure would be the way for Delegate Hale to sponsor such a legislation.
HEHS COMMITTEE CHAIRPERSON HALE
Another option for direct funding of tribal veterans’ organizations is for tribe to approve grants to these organizations.
EASTERN VETERANS’ AGENCY ORGANIZATION CHARLES LONG
we don’t want to be separate from tribe but to get away from political influence, hopefully like navajo election office. that wud help a lot. most veterans want to be away from political influence. Navajo Veterans Affairs is under executive branch and lot of time that desires of veterans are overriden by president, who says, “No, I want this done.” and that is another reason why no progress among veterans. but if veterans take control then you will see progress.
VOTING ON ACCEPTING REPORT FROM EASTERN VETERANS’ ORGANIZATION
3 in favor, 0 opposed at 3 p.m.