Letters: Observe candidates well and vote
Well, it’s election year again, and as you know that one elected official will ask for your vote at the chapter. We didn’t know this pandemic of COVID-19 would impact us all, and knowing our chapter would have been our only resource since some chapters are in rural areas, yet they shut down March 13. Only a few chapter staff and officials stayed behind to start a command post at the chapter.
These were scary times not knowing what will happen next, we’ve lost colleagues and loved ones along the way. Chapter officials took an oath to help their people in need or crisis, especially during this pandemic of COVID-19. Chapter officials didn’t want to go near the chapter and they let the administration do all their work.
I applaud all who stayed behind at the chapter and helped their community in need. Every bit counted — donated food, propane, and utility assistance, which the chapter staff made happen.
They have a family of their own, but yet managed to make it to work. So know your officials before you vote for them — some are there just for the stipend, not planning or lending a helping hand at the chapter.
Some will tell you confidential matters, which should have stayed in the chapter.
So, what I’m saying is observe your candidates well and vote. If nothing is resolved there is always a recall.
I am asking young generations to get involved with your community at the chapter level and attend meetings and be counted, we all have a voice to raise our opinion. We can all say what we want about our chapter officials and chapter administration, but the truth is we know who is there for us at the chapter and the ones who stayed behind.
They had a choice to close the doors along with other chapters, but chose not to. Thank you so much for being there for us community members, chapter staff and officials that stayed behind.
I know it’s a lot of work and extra hours you all put in. Be mindful and thank them for they are essential workers. Are chapter officials really leaders or are they followers? That is a question I’ll leave for the voters. I know for a fact chapter administration isn’t appreciated for their hard work they put in and yet officials take all the credit.
Vote for who will help your community and not just another stipend check, who will raise their voice and plan with their community, not just making one person decide for everyone.
Again, we have a voice that needs to be heard. So, on Election Day, you decide, are the officials really going to be there for us? Are they just going to be home and afraid to be at the chapter because of the coronavirus?
Leadership vacuum in government
Unspent CARES Act monies — lots of money and no plan to spend it by Dec. 30!
A leadership vacuum in Navajo Nation government is responsible for the current situation. Politicians don’t even connect or stimulate discussion of issues with their constituents to know what the needs are.
Now, they want to throw money to the chapter houses, this poses big problems. They can’t even get the application process right and the people most in need are going to get left behind again.
They’re asking the needy to be patient and respectful? It is easier for politicians to smile and hand out food boxes or go to political rallies clear across the country and state, than govern.
Politics must be the only field in which lack of experience is considered a job. Politicians or elected officials make promises, arrive, break promises, and become entrenched. They extend their stay and cannot get their fingers out of the politician “glove.” Some get voted out but they keep a finger or two in the glove and jump to “serve” on boards and committees concurrently. How can they effectively perform all the duties for each position?
I believe some (few) elected officials are honest civil servants. Career politicians outnumber and get in not to do service of the people, but rather a pursuit of greater net worth (earn stipends for being on every board or committee, first-hand access to stipends, gifts, services, or projects for family and friends, get family and friends on the payroll, etc.). How can they sleep at night, for failing the people?
If we want solutions at the highest levels, we should be demanding fresh leadership. We must vote for new leaders! For starters, spend CARES Act monies to set up reservation-wide broadband Internet so thousands of families can access telemedicine-health care (medical and mental health). Reliable internet has immense potential to enable the quality of education. Thousands of our children-students face challenges of remote learning and may be disadvantaged for many years to come. Broadband internet connection that is reliable and affordable is vital.
Then there is an urgent need to upgrade emergency vehicles (ambulances, fire trucks, police vehicles), PPE, and raise first responder’s pay at every agency. First responders — emergency medics, police and firefighters – are tasked with saving people. With a shrinking pool of medics, police, and firefighters, they increasingly find themselves out “covering” other stations.
They are truly facing danger while others are paid “hazard” pay to sit in comfy offices with no contact with the public or they are at home and others are driving around during work hours. First responders race across the reservation in very old vehicles.
They have the best chance of responding in a timely manner. Their daily lives carry emotional highs and devastating lows, there are days when shifts pass without rest. They deserve higher pay and better equipment. They must have compassion and love to help people, otherwise there’s no point in doing this job.
Then there is a need to build congregate facilities or structures locally to quarantine people who are exposed to COVID-19. When the pandemic is under control, these structures could be used as domestic violence shelters, senior facilities, daycare centers, learning centers … the list goes on.
Frustrated with veterans department
I would like to express my concerns and frustrations with the Navajo Nation Veterans Department and, with this letter, I hope to be a voice for many of my comrades who are experiencing similar setbacks when financial assistance is granted. The Veterans Day holiday is rapidly approaching and each political soul that is running for elected office will exploit the veterans as a stepping-stone for their political gain.
As I understand it, every fiscal year there is an “annual trust fund allocation” that is dispersed to assist Navajo Nation veterans to help them wherever there is a need for him or her, young and old. This assistance is something the veteran looks forward to, just as I did.
Unfortunately, it became nothing but misleading and false hope. My application, along with many others in our Ganado area, was deprived of financial assistance. For me it was several times now and it was for the most ridiculous reasons (town and state not written in?). To say the least, it does not justify a denied application.
I travel almost 150 miles round trip to attend meetings, take annual leave from my job as a paraprofessional, thinking that this assistance will benefit me, not to mention filling out the financial assistance applications.
In return, I along with others get nothing but a denial letter. No explanations of any sort, emails, and phone calls are not returned so basically that’s the end of all channels of communications from the Window Rock veteran’s office. I understand if monetary resources become an issue the first time, but when this occurs a second time and still without explanation, I decided to look for answers through inquiries to my chapter officials, the Council delegate, his administrative person, but to date, there has been no response. That was in August 2020.
This last time, I made repeated calls to my chapter president until I made contact. He at least listened and said he would check into it, I have not made a follow-up with him as of this letter submittal. When I made the decision to write this letter, it was to ask the veterans department what their future resolutions were to fix this problem.
I hear language of continuing resolutions or plan of action being thrown around, maybe this dialogue can be communicated throughout the year, not just at the time to deny a financial application. Speaking of the application, why can’t the veteran’s office staff come out with a pre-printed form for all veterans so that it can be the same? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m assuming they can’t be that “busy.”
In conclusion, I just want answers, whether it’s from the Navajo Nation — VA management, my elected leaders, or the staff that work to assist veterans. We are at the mercy of those people who make the decisions whether to grant us financial assistance or not.
Don’t give us false hope and dishonesty. If there is no money available, just tell us that, I’m sure we will understand, but please be honorable and transparent. I thank you for the opportunity to express my feelings and concerns.
God bless the USA, the Navajo Nation, and veterans of all branches, may you walk in peace.
Christopher D. White