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SHIPROCK — The contribution and service of women in the military was honored in an event at the Northern Navajo Veterans Center here on Wednesday.

The event was designed to recognize women veterans and help them learn about programs and resources available from the state and tribes, event organizer Paul George said.

"We want to thank them for their services," George said.

He added it was important to share these resources because as commander for the Tsé Daa K'aan Chapter Veterans Organization, he understands the experience female veterans face when returning home.

"I think they need to be part of the veteran organizations," George said.

The event was also inspired by the Women's Armed Services Integration Act, a federal bill signed by President Harry S. Truman in 1948.

The act permitted women to serve as full members of the United States armed forces.

Cecelia B. Finona returned to New Mexico in 2011 after serving 31 years in the U.S. Army. She was the only female veteran to attend the event and took the opportunity to voice her concerns to state Rep. Anthony Allison, D-San Juan, who listened attentively, about the bureaucracy veterans often face when seeking services.

"There's a lot of issues that we face out here as veterans. Give us some foundation and give us stepping stones to go forward," she said.

Finona, who retired as a master sergeant, enlisted because she wanted to move from the area. She served for three years then re-enlisted because job opportunities lacked on the Navajo Nation.

During her service she was stationed across the country and overseas. She worked in a variety of assignments, from being a warehouse clerk to having a role in the plans and operations division — as well as being a mother to two children.

She said women have concerns about daycare when finding employment after ending military service.

Women also face different medical issues than male veterans, including how to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder, Finona said.

Allison later told the group about resources provided by the New Mexico Department of Veterans Services, which has a satellite office in Farmington.

Such outlets are important because they give back to those who served and defended the country, he said.

"They give us the freedom to do what we choose to do," Allison said.

He also talked about projects included in the capital outlay bill passed by the state Legislature that awaits Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's signature.

On the list is $200,000 to construct a veteran center for Shiprock Chapter and $50,000 to Shiprock Chapter for a water line project.

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.

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