Skek Tash/Kamduum, my name is Pacer Reina and I am the new Veterans Representative for the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. I am here to assist our Community veterans and their families in attaining the benefits they earned by serving this great country we call home.
As it has been known by our people, we were farmers first, but that never stopped or hindered our men from their duty in defending our families, homes and property. Throughout history, our people have always held the role of protector and defender in high regard, always recognizing the courage, compassion and humility that our men carried within their roles as warriors for our people.
As times have changed, so have the roles of those whom we call warriors. But the one thing that has not changed is the honor and commitment that our young people display when they sign up to defend the land they so richly love. We give those who leave the Community to enlist in our nation’s armed forces the admiration and respect they deserve while defending our country and its citizens.
Upon completion of their service, they have earned the title of “veteran.”
This brings with it a great many things, not only in name, but also in benefits and programs from the nation and its people.
As the Veterans Representative, it is part of my role to make sure veterans and their families have knowledge of the processes in applying for these benefits. If you have had to apply for benefits with the Veterans Administration, you know full well that there are a great many forms to fill out. It’s also difficult to be patient while claims are processed and passed through the various channels, which can at times be a lengthy process before you know the status of your claims.
The Veterans Administration has started new initiatives for veterans and their families to gain a better understanding of the benefits and programs at the federal level. In turn, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community has created the Veterans Representative office, a place where veterans can come and learn about the wide variety of programs and benefits available to them.
These are some of the key areas in which the office can help veterans and their families:
• Disability benefits
• Education and training
• Vocational rehabilitation and employment
• Home loan guaranty
• Dependents’ survivor benefits
• Medical treatment
• Life insurance
• Burial benefits
Underneath each heading are various programs that federal, state and local governments offer to veterans. When you take into account the various service organizations for veterans (American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, etc.), there are so many programs and benefits that it can become confusing as to where to begin.
The most important starting point for a lot of these programs/benefits is a copy of the DD214, or discharge papers; that document alone will help start the application process for many services. Once you secure a copy of the DD214, you’ve completed the first step. Other important documents you may need include:
• Marriage certificate
• Death certificate (if the veteran is deceased)
• Birth certificates/adoption papers
I look forward to helping you, the veterans of this Community, to attain the benefits that you have earned through your service to this country. In making sure that your benefits are accessed today, we can ensure that those same benefits are made available to those younger men and women who choose to serve our people in their role as defenders of our nation.
There is so much more information that will be shared through various forms of delivery, so keep an eye out for further announcements and news articles. Always keep in mind that I am willing to sit down to discuss veterans issues.
If you have any questions or would like more information about the Veterans Representative’s office, please feel free to call (480) 362-7490, Monday through Friday, during regular working hours. I can also be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nyuunthxia/Dova epom nei (I’ll see you soon).