Remembering and Appreciating our Military Veterans
During the month of May, designated as National Military Appreciation Month, we always take time to recognize the many Native military veterans who have sacrificed for all of us by defending our freedoms and our values. Additionally, on Memorial Day, we pay our deepest respects to those warriors who gave their lives in the service.
To our nation’s military veterans and their families, Cherokee Nation says Wado.
I’m confident each of us knows at least one man or woman who has bravely volunteered to protect our freedoms. That’s especially true for our tribal nations. According to the U.S. Department of Defense statistics, Native Americans serve in the military at a higher rate than any other ethnic or racial group, a fact that we, as Cherokee people, already know well.
The First Americans of this land have always been the first Americans to step up to protect our country. Cherokees have fought in every military battle and war since before the inception of the United States was founded.
Cherokee veterans have paid the high price of freedom by leaving their families and communities and placing themselves in harm’s way for the good of all. The contributions and sacrifices of our Cherokee men and women, who served in the Armed Forces, have been vital to maintaining the freedoms and way of life enjoyed by our citizens.
As a tribal government, we have advocated for our veterans and made their issues a priority. We have:
- Opened the $2 million Cherokee Nation Veterans Center, a state-of-the-art facility for Cherokee and non-Cherokee veterans.
- Created the Cherokee Warrior Flight, allowing veterans to travel to Washington D.C. to visit war memorials, the U.S. Capitol and Arlington National Cemetery.
- Signed a memorandum of understanding with the Veterans Administration to ensure tribal veterans have access to quality health care through tribal health services.
- Advocated for homeless veterans to get housing through federal HUD dollars.
- Started a collaboration with the Eastern Oklahoma Foodbank to provide food to veterans and widows of veterans who are in need.
- Become officially certified as a “Purple Heart Community.”
- Collaborated with Sequoyah County and the community of Sallisaw to recruit the Oklahoma Veterans Center and build a forthcoming new center.
This month, and especially Memorial Day, is designated as a time to pay our respects. In reality, it should be every day of every month. So many families have experienced the loss of loved ones who have perished while selflessly serving this country and our communities in the Armed Forces. We will always revere that experience and cherish what it means for us as a society. God bless each of the brave men and women who have sacrificed for us to live free. We are forever grateful.