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Begaye Signs Navajo Veterans Bill

Begaye Signs Navajo Veterans Bill
February 16
10:17 2016

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye signed off on a bill from the council that creates a Navajo Veterans Administration.

“We are going to mark this monumental occasion with a celebratory signing, because it’s what our veterans deserve,” Begaye said.

The 11-member NNVA will help develop policies relating to Navajo veterans.

“The new law honors veterans and will provide services and funding from agencies to the tribe’s vets,” said Delegate Jonathan Hale, who sponsored the bill.

The VA will provide enhanced outreach, services and benefits to Navajo veterans. The Advisory Council opens the door for veterans to have input on veterans policy at the central government level.

The idea of creating a VA “has been something that has been going on for years and years,” according to Delegate Alton Joe Shepherd.

Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez do more than just talk about their commitment to helping Navajo veterans. They volunteered their time to help rebuild the home of one former Code Talker.

Former Sgt. Major Dan Akee finally moved back into his Tuba City house, which he built more than 40 years ago. A team of volunteers fixed it up after it was condemned.

“I did not want to come into my house until it was completed,” Akee said, as he toured the home with Eunice, his wife of 66 years.

Begaye recalled being drenched in soiled water while removing an old kitchen sink while he worked on Akee’s home.

He was covered in the smell of wastewater all day, he reminisced. But, that was okay.

“I was fulfilling a dream for a warrior,” Begaye said.

“It took teamwork to turn Akee’s dream into reality,” Nez added.

The Navajo VA will develop its own plan of operation with an eye toward becoming officially recognized by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

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