With scissors and clippers, veterans receive free haircuts
LOWER FRUITLAND — Using clippers designed with a leopard print, Jennifer Arthur cut the hair of Army veteran Fred Eaton Sr., who came to the San Juan Chapter house on Dec. 6 for the free service.
Nearby were scissors, combs and a spray bottle for Arthur's use as she carefully positioned Eaton's head to trim his hair, then used a neck duster to wipe cut strands.
"How does that feel?" Arthur said.
"Good," Eaton said with a smile.
Throughout the morning, veterans signed in to receive a haircut at the veterans' lounge inside the chapter house.
"If they're a veteran, they're a veteran and I will cut their hair for free," Arthur said.
Arthur is a full-time member of AmeriCorps at the chapter and has been a licensed cosmetologist since 2006. She started offering haircuts in May.
"My husband is also a veteran, so I kind of know a little bit about what they go through," Arthur said. "Not so much some of these older gentlemen. They've been through a lot worse, but any little thing we can do to help."
Her husband is an Air Force veteran and a member of the Navajo Nation.
AmeriCorps Program Manager Douglas Joe said the idea came from AmeriCorps members at the San Juan and Tsé Daa K'aan chapters, and was pursued as part of the program's support for veterans and military family.
They have done minor home repairs, canned food drives and distributed warm clothing to veterans as part of the support as well, Joe said.
Thirteen veterans from various chapters, some as far away as Newcomb and Tiis Tsoh Sikaad, took part in the service as of the early afternoon of Dec. 6.
"Word gets out about the haircuts," Joe said.
San Juan Chapter President and Army veteran Sam Bee stopped by for a haircut.
He chatted with Arthur while she trimmed his hair.
"You're different now," veteran Lew Begay said about Bee's fresh cut.
Bee, the former commander for the chapter's veterans' organization, said the service goes beyond improving a veteran's appearance. It also provides time for them to gather and to socialize.
When Bee arrived earlier to the chapter house, there were six veterans waiting for haircuts.
"There were some guys from Upper Fruitland, Nenahnezad. They all sat around here. It was nice. To gather around here and sit around and talk, not business but about everyday life," Bee said.
Lew Begay is an Air Force veteran who drove from Shiprock to have his hair cut.
"You know, Shiprock needs something like this. Shiprock doesn't do nothing for their veterans," Begay said.
After each cut, Arthur swept the space and cleaned her equipment.
"You guys are keeping me busy," Arthur said before starting another cut.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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