Women veterans honored at event in Shiprock

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
U.S. Army veteran Cecelia B. Finona talks about problems veterans often have when applying for services on Wednesday at the Northern Navajo Veterans Center in Shiprock.

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.

State Rep. Anthony Allison, D-San Juan, listens to comments about situations female veterans face after leaving military service on Wednesday at the Northern Navajo Veterans Center in Shiprock.

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.

Paul George, commander for the Tsé Daa K'aan Chapter Veterans Organization, arranged the event to honor women who served in the military.

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.

Tsé Daa K'aan Chapter Veterans Organization Commander Paul George cuts a piece of cake during an event to recognize women veterans on Wednesday at the Northern Navajo Veterans Center in Shiprock.

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.

State Rep. Anthony Allison, D-San Juan, listens to remarks about social issues female veterans face on the Navajo Nation at the Northern Navajo Veterans Center in Shiprock in this undated file photo.