Did you know that the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community has a Veterans Hall for the veterans of the Community and other veterans who have ties to the Community? Many people don’t. George Robinson, the Veterans Affairs (VA) representative to the Community, said, “The Veterans Hall is for all Community members and those who served in any branch of the military who need assistance with veterans information or services provided by the VA.”
Robinson works closely with the VA office in Phoenix. “If anyone wants to see if they are eligible for VA healthcare benefits or services, burials, memorials, or benefits for service-connected disabilities, this is what the hall is for,” he said.
So far Robinson has not received any requests for information pertaining to VA benefits, services or anything in particular. The only questions that Robinson receives are “from family members who are asking for headstones or marker applications and how to apply for funds or services for funeral arrangements,” Robinson said. “If I don’t have an answer, I will call the VA to see what assistance they are able to provide for the family or person. So it really depends on what you are looking for.” Robinson is able to download all VA forms right at the Veterans Hall for individuals who are requesting information.
Another service that Robinson helps with is providing proper disposal of American flags. “One Community member came in with a flag that was old and needed to be disposed of properly. Since this hall also serves as an American Legion Post, we will properly dispose of a flag,” he said.
The Community’s American Legion Post 114, the “Bushmasters,” is widely recognized by other Native communities as well as Arizona State University, the Westwood High School Indian Club, the Pueblo Grande Museum Indian Market and others. Post 114 has been asked by various powwow committees to carry and post the colors at their event and to attend other events, such as the Josiah Moore Scholarship Banquet. Post members will render 21-gun salutes at funerals, stand guard at the Memorial Hall for deceased veterans and attend memorials when requested.
All of the post’s activities are done on a volunteer basis. “A handshake is payment for our services,” said Robinson.
On September 12, Post 114 swore in their newly elected officers for 2010–2011 at their monthly meeting held at the Veterans Hall. They invited members from other American Legion posts to witness the ceremony and to preside over the honors at the meeting.
Robinson said he wishes that more Community-member veterans would attend meetings and become involved with Post 114. Most of the members are from different backgrounds and tribes, but for the most part Post 114 represents the Community very well, and that is why the Bushmasters’ reputation is widely recognized throughout Arizona and beyond.
“We would like to start a ladies auxiliary for any lady who has a husband or family member who is a veteran to show support and be a part of the post,” said Robinson. “Currently there are about eight ladies who are interested in forming an auxiliary.”
For more information on Veterans Hall and Post 114 services, contact George Robinson by phone at (480) 362-5530, by fax at (480) 850-8159, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday.