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‘Navajo Warriors’ Get Home in Chinle

‘Navajo Warriors’ Get Home in Chinle
May 11
10:43 2022

By John Christian Hopkins

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer signed a tribal council resolution into law Monday to construct and operate a new 60-bed nursing home for Navajo veterans.

The law appropriates $29 million for the construction and operation of the new nursing home, which will be called the “Navajo Veterans Home.”

Nez and Lizer were joined at the signing by the Chinle Agency Veterans Organization and Chinle Chapter officials.

The new facility will be the very first nursing home on the Navajo Nation dedicated to providing services for Navajo veterans.

“As Navajo people, we all have someone in our family who has served or is serving in the Armed Forces. Indigenous people have the highest per capita rate of military service among all demographics,” Nez said. “Our Navajo Code Talkers helped win World War II using our sacred language.”

Council Delegate Carl Slater, who sponsored the legislation, and Council Delegate Eugene Tso, who represents the Chinle community, were also in attendance for the signing of the resolution, which was passed by the 24th Navajo Nation Council by a vote of 22-0.

“We have a long proud history of military service among the First People of this country. With the approval of funding, our Nation is prioritizing the care of our veterans so that they no longer have to seek nursing home services hundreds of miles away from our homelands,” Nez added. “They are our warriors and they deserve these types of services closer to home so they can be near their loved ones within our sacred mountains.”

Slater agreed with the president.

“We hope this collaborative effort provides a sustainable model that leadership can look to in the future as we establish resources for every Navajo veteran. It’s important to remember past leaders who paved the way for projects like this that allow our veterans to be cared for at home. Ahéhee’ to all of our Diné warriors who advocated for the establishment of this monumental project and your service does not go unrecognized,” Slater said.

According to the legislation, if a Navajo veteran requires a nursing home due to health and/or age, there are no veteran-specific nursing homes on the Navajo Nation, and the only solution is for the veteran to be admitted to a Veterans Administration nursing home hundreds of miles from their home and the Navajo Nation.

Furthermore, such admissions are contingent on space availability and priorities set by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.

“Not only will our warriors be able to stay closer to their loved ones, but it will provide more jobs and new opportunities for those who want to train for a career in caring for elders. Providing these types of services are a major part of community building for our Nation,” Lizer said. “The Navajo Warriors Home is a wonderful example of what we can accomplish when we work together and support each other.”

Navajoland Nursing Homes, Inc. CEO Wayne Claw, who also oversees the Dr. Guy Gorman Senior Care Center in Chinle, said this project has been worked on since 2005.

“We have to take care of our veterans on the lands they have protected for us on the battlefields. We welcomed our veterans back home when they completed their service and now, we have to take care of them.” Claw said.

Navajoland Nursing Homes, Inc. will oversee the construction and operation of the Navajo Warriors Home nursing home facility in the community of Chinle.

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