Event brings VA benefits closer to Navajo veterans

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
Vietnam Veterans salute during the presentation of colors, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017 at a Vietnam Veterans Pinning Ceremony at Navajo Technical University in Crownpoint.

FARMINGTON — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Navajo Nation Veterans Affairs will host an event to help Native American veterans in identifying eligibility for benefits and filing claims.

"Your Service. Our Mission: Bringing Benefits Home" is a national campaign between the VA and 20 tribal communities to help veterans access the range of benefits they earned through their military service.

Tim Love, veterans service center manager for the VA's regional benefits office in Albuquerque, said the event is designed to have resources available on site to ease the process of filing claims.

"Our goal is to try to get as much work done," Love said.

Another goal is to educate Native American veterans, their spouses and family members about the claims process and which benefits are available.

"They served this country and they are entitled to benefits," Love said.

Wallace Charley, the veteran service officer for the tribe's veterans administration office in Shiprock, said this is the first time the two agencies are collaborating to provide services closer to the Navajo Nation.

He recommended interested veterans bring with them a DD-214, which is a military discharge document, photo identification and a Social Security card.

Charley said he was accredited with the VA last year to file claims, and the event is another way for him to share that information with veterans.

"Your Service. Our Mission: Bringing Benefits Home" will be from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the Northern Navajo Veterans Center in Shiprock.

For more information about the event, contact Lorae HoMana Pawiki, tribal government relations specialist for the VA, at 928-776-5306 or lorae.pawiki@va.gov or Wallace Charley at 505-368-1078 or 505-419-6631.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.