Candice Pioche-Zunie has served on council since 2017


FARMINGTON — The commander of the Upper Fruitland Veterans Organization is adding the position of chair for the Navajo Nation Veterans Advisory Council to her leadership role.

Candice Pioche-Zunie, a U.S. Air Force veteran who also serves as commander for the Northern Agency Veterans Organization, was selected last week and has been on the agency council since April 2017.

"I'm very surprised but also honored that my fellow members on the council selected me," she said.

The Navajo Nation Veterans Advisory Council was established under the executive branch as part of the Navajo Nation Veterans Act in 2016.

Its purpose is to provide policy advice to the tribal president regarding veterans issues and concerns.

As chair, Pioche-Zunie will be responsible for managing the agency council, enforcing its policies and procedures, reaching out to state and local entities, sharing information with veterans, attending veterans meetings, and working with the tribal President's Office.

The advisory council's membership consists of five women and five men, each serving as commanders of the agency veterans organizations, and the executive director of the Navajo Nation Veterans Administration.

Agency council members also selected Fort Defiance Agency Veterans Organization Commander Olin Kieyoomia as vice chair and Chinle Agency Veterans Organization Member Kim Silentwalker as secretary.

Pioche-Zunie said she hopes their leadership encourages young veterans to step forward and participate in veterans groups and organizations.

"I'm hoping this is a good step in the right direction," she said.

While her new role will increase her leadership skills, Pioche-Zunie said she will continue to advocate for women veterans issues, including equal treatment for benefits and services.

Vern R. Lee, commander for the Northern Agency Veterans Organization, said the selection for officers took place on July 6 during the agency council meeting in Tóhajiilee.

"I'm glad that she gets a chance to lead the pack, to chair and get the experience," Lee said.

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

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