Veterans groups are working together to assist Native American Veterans on reservations to improve their sustainability needs. They are calling the project Native American Sustainability for Veterans and those in Uniform (NAVSU).
According to Bob Dalpe, one of the coordinators, “NAVSU will focus on fulfilling water, electrical and housing needs on the reservations. The emphasis is on veterans, first responders, and their families,” he said.
The project grew out of a need for food and personnel protective equipment (PPE) when the areas were hit hard by COVID-19. Many native American veterans live in remote areas, are elderly, and have other complications making routine services somewhat challenging.
Both the Goldwater Foundation and the Veterans Medical Leadership Council (VMLC) are stepping in to help fill the void. Tom Eisiminger and Bob Dalpe of the VMLC contacted the Navajo Nation Veterans leadership. Leader Hope MacDonald put them in touch with Pete Tsinnijinnie, leader of the Chinle Agency veterans community.
“From there, the supplies began to roll in,” said Dalpe. “There were chainsaws for isolated households to cut wood to heat and cook. MD Helicopters from Falcon Field volunteered to fly in the supplies. We supplied PPE and 300-gallon water tanks since there were water storage issues for the isolated homesteads. To date, the project to date has performed 15 helicopter missions with 2.5 tons worth of high-value supplies. Jack Travis Trucking has run six missions of 60, 300-gallon water tanks to Chinle, Monument Valley, and the Hopi Nation,” he added.
Due to the outpouring of support and ongoing needs, Dalpe and others are now working to transition this effort from an ad hoc initiative created by two veterans in a pickup truck to a fully functioning nonprofit organization.
“Much of our efforts for a few weeks will be working on the nuts, bolts, and stubby pencil work of organizational development,” said Dalpe. He adds this will include member roles, websites, donation routes, and fundraising.
Photo credit: Photo by Bob Dalpe.