Changes to Navajo veterans trust fund to benefit new home construction

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez signed into law changes to the tribe's Veterans Trust Fund to revise how part of the fund will be used to build new homes for Navajo veterans.

The Navajo Nation Veterans Trust Fund receives an annual appropriation of 4% from the tribe's projected revenues generated by resources such as taxes, oil, gas, mining, interest and dividends.

On July 23, the Navajo Nation Council passed a bill to amend the trust fund's distribution to have 50% of the annual appropriation go to the trust fund while the tribe's veterans administration uses the remaining 50% to build homes.

The idea to use the trust fund for new home construction was initially approved by tribal leaders in 2018. At that time, the purpose was for the Navajo Nation Veterans Administration to build 15 homes in each of the five agencies and to fund minor home improvement projects.

The amendment also eliminated the requirement for 15 new homes to "as many turnkey homes as possible for veterans without permanent housing."

James Zwierlein, executive director of the veterans administration, told the council in July that the housing program has not built a new home in four years, but the veterans administration hopes the changes will provide better management of the funding.

Nez, along with Vice President Myron Lizer, signed the council resolution on Aug. 5.

The president commended the service of Navajo veterans before signing the document, according to an Aug. 6 press release from his office.

"Many of them continue to serve in leadership roles and to advocate for grassroots issues. Our administration has made it a priority to work with veterans and the council to improve the Navajo Veterans Trust Fund to expand home ownership options and to repair more homes," Nez said.

The Navajo Nation Veterans Advisory Council supported amending the trust fund in a resolution that passed in November 2020.

The advisory council's membership consists of veterans from the five agencies who provide recommendations to tribal leaders on policies that affect veterans and to advocate on behalf of veterans.

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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