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‘Historic Day’ for Navajo Veterans

‘Historic Day’ for Navajo Veterans
May 06
11:13 2022

By John Christian Hopkins

The Navajo Nation Veterans Administration was officially recognized May 2 as a tribal organization that meets the criteria and standards to be accredited under the Tribal Representation Expansion Program, to assist veterans with benefit claims.

U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough made the announcement, which makes the Navajo Nation the first tribal nation to earn such recognition in the country.

“This is a historic achievement for the Navajo Nation Veterans Administration and a big step forward for Navajo veterans,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said. “When the United States called upon our people to protect and serve, our Diné warriors answered that call and kept their part of the promise. For many years, we’ve heard from our Navajo veterans about the challenges of having to travel long distances to file claims for federal VA benefits. Through the hard work of Navajo Veterans Administration Director James Zwierlein and his team, progress is being made and we are seeing results.”

Among many requirements that had to be met through the U.S. Veterans Affairs’ application process, the NNVA had to demonstrate its capability, resources, and commitment to maintain a policy to provide complete claims services to veterans.

“I love doing this job. Being able to improve the situation for our veterans is rewarding beyond words and being able to get things done without malicious interference,” Zwierlein said. “Imagine what we could accomplish if certain individuals weren’t constantly trying to keep me from doing my job under the law – we could be so much further along.”

The application process required substantial work, and Veterans Administration Deputy Director Hubert Smith was instrumental in helping to get the application across the finish line and approved, he added.

Zwierlein was also selected last year, to serve on the federal VA’s Advisory Committee on Tribal and Indian Affairs.

Kee C. Nez’s new home through Navajo Veterans Housing Program

“The construction of new homes for Navajo veterans is underway and now our veterans will be able to process federal claims closer to home,” Nez said. “Recently, we visited the construction site of a new home for 89-year-old Korean War veteran, Kee C. Nez, which is being built through the Navajo Veterans Housing Program.”

More homes are under construction for Navajo veterans, Nez noted.

“Director Zwierlein and his staff members are producing results and building stronger relations at the federal and state levels to provide support for our Diné warriors,” Nez added.

‘Historic Day’ for Navajo Veterans - overview

Summary: ‘Historic Day’ for Navajo Veterans

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