Published February 24, 2016
TWIN ARROWS, ARIZONA — Navajo Nation President Russell Begay and Vice President Jonathan Nez signed the Navajo Veterans Act into law on Feb. 13 at Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort, promising it will be the first step toward getting every Navajo veteran a decent home.
Begaye said the signing was a significant moment for the Navajo Nation.
“This does not belong to the Navajo Nation (nor does it belong) to the Vice President,”he told the veterans and the active-duty military in the room. “It’s yours. This is your Act.”
Jamescita Peshlakai, veterans liaison in the Office of the President and Vice President, said the Diné have been told for decades that they are a warrior people, which is what her father, James Peshlakai, taught during the ceremony.
“The Navajo Nation veterans, you are the most feared,”James Peshlakai told the veterans during his presentation on Dinéwarrior culture. “You are the most highly respected and you are highly honored warriors of the world.”
Jamescita Peshlakai says Diné veterans have a solid history. And through the Act, the Department of Navajo Veterans Affairs will now be able to start an archive and store.
“These are some of the things we want to start (through) this Act,” she said.
Begaye said the Veterans Act has been many years in the making. It was before he became president that he often met with some leaders at Burger King in Shiprock to talk about how the Nation needed to work with the Diné veterans.
“Of those meetings, we discussed the Veterans Act,” Begaye said. “We talked about a veterans administration on Navajo land and a veterans hospital.”
Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the Navajo Times. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
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