Tag Archives: The Warrior Way

Vanity Fair Looks at Geronimo and His Legend

Geronimo recently made headlines with the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, as it was made known that the code name used was “Geronimo.” Many American Indians were outraged at this and Indian Country Today Media Network covered the issue.

In a recent Vanity Fair article “The Skull-and the Bones,” the magazine takes a look at the American Indian legend upon the 125 years of his surrender to the U.S. authorities.

The article covers significant events in the Apache warriors life from his run ins with the U.S. authorities to the rumors of Yale University’s students that raided his tomb, and the latest instance with the death of bin Laden.

Golf Tournament to Benefit Cherokee Veterans Center

An upcoming golf tournament held by the Cherokee Nation on October 3 dubbed “The Four Bs—Birdies, Bogeys, Buildings and Business,” will help raise funding for a project to benefit area veterans.

Hosted by the Cherokee Hills Golf Club in Catoosa, Oklahoma, the tournament offers entrants an opportunity to network and discuss the planned Cherokee Nation Veterans Center in Tahlequah. All the proceeds will go towards the completion of the center.

The tournament is in a shotgun format beginning at 8:30 a.m. and teams must register by September 29. Team fee is $400 and includes a hole/tee sponsorship sign, golf carts, green fees and lunch.

The center will be at the tribe’s main office complex and the construction phases have begun.

“This project means so much to so many people. The important services offered at the veterans center will not only be for Cherokee Nation citizens but for all veterans residing in eastern Oklahoma,” said Dana Espinal, director of planning and development for the Cherokee Nation Management Resource Group.

Military Veterans to Benefit From Changes to the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill

On Wednesday, October 1, the Department of Veterans Affairs held a conference call to inform military veterans about changes to the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill. The Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, which has provided financial assistance to military veterans seeking traditional college degrees since 1944, will now provide benefits to veterans seeking non-college degrees, on-the-job training, and correspondence courses, and veterans can be eligible to receive a housing allowance rate when enrolled in distance or online learning courses.

According to Under Secretary General Allison Hickey, who stated the Veterans Benefits Administration has put more than $13 billion in payments in the hands of more than 600,000 service members and Veterans in the past two years for the purpose of enhancing their career opportunities, “there is a different focus now, and not just on academic programs but also on non-degree programs and trade craft skills.”

Hickey also touched on President Obama’s American Jobs Act, which would allow for incentives for employers that would employ veterans and assist them in transitioning effectively from military to civilian/veteran status.

“At the VA we have noted that of the 47 million jobs that will be created between now and 2018, very few will require college degrees and more of them will require non-degree program certification, licensing, journeyman apprenticeships and trade craft skills. There is tremendous opportunity for our veterans to gain access to good paying jobs and for us to incentivize employers to hire them but in ways that help them reduce their training budgets and bills.”

Hickey stated that the financial support and compensation for vocational training, certification, licensing, and other non-degree job training programs, provided by the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill would be “a tremendous opportunity for Veterans to gain the skills necessary to achieve good paying jobs.”

“In the next year alone VA estimates 40,000 Veterans will take advantage of this opportunity. I think it’s going to be higher to be honest,” she said.

Deputy Under Secretary for Economic Opportunity Curt Coy who was also on the call added, “We are excited about the changes that will give our vets a bit of flexibility. If a veteran has [Information Technology] training experience and they need to get Microsoft certified or Sun systems certified we can help pay for that. If veterans need to receive state certifications or licensing we can provide the benefits to cover those expenses.”

Coy also stated that benefits will be expanded for disabled veterans pursuing vocational training, on-the-job training or apprenticeships. “We predict another 22,000 veterans will take advantage of this,” he said.

Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Service Director Ruth Fanning, that has worked with disabled vets for 30 years said, “In addition to the great changes in the post-9/11 G.I. Bill for education recipients, there has also been a positive impact for the vocational rehabilitation program.”

Fanning says with new benefits added to Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Services for disabled veterans, veterans will now be able to more fully make the transition to civilian life and the business world.

“We provide tuition, case management books, equipment, tools whatever is needed to help that person. Almost 80 percent of our veterans that were placed in jobs were placed in professional or managerial positions earning an average of $42,000 per year. Compared to recent news, the average household income in America is $50,000. We are not just focused on getting them into a job we are focused on getting into a career that they can succeed in. A veteran only needs a 10 percent disability rating to apply.”

Fanning also spoke of a website www.vetsuccess.gov which helps veterans with job placement, resume and job building tools and employer / employee matching.

For American Indian veterans

When asked about benefits specific to American Indian veterans, VA administrators on the call cited certain factors could serve to benefit veterans in tribal or rural territories.

According to Fanning, “The rural issue is a real concern with employment – I think the good news with the changing economy is that we are in a more global economy. There is a lot of telework that Native Americans or other individuals in rural communities can now take advantage of that include online training programs and employment by large metropolitan companies that are in other areas.  Yet they can remain a resident of their rural communities. In addition we are really focused on entrepreneurship, there are many businesses that can be run online,” she said.

“There are several federal agencies that are moving increasingly toward a very major footprint in telework,” said Hickey. “In the future of the VA there will be some opportunities and some strategic planning to be thinking about those things too.”

Complete information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill is available at: www.gibill.va.gov. VA’s education information phone number is: 1-888-GIBILL-1. For ongoing benefit information, Veterans and service members can log into the VA website: www.eBenefits.va.gov.

Homeless Veteran Outreach Campaign to be Launched at Sioux Falls VA

Veterans familiar with the Sioux Falls VA Health Care System in Sioux Falls, Iowa could be in for some exciting things beginning October 12. The facility was recently named as one of 28 communities across the country to host a kickoff event for the Department of Veteran Affair’s national drive to end homelessness among Veterans by 2015 campaign.

The facility will help launch a national outreach program and be a partner in continuing the momentum to fight homelessness in Sioux Falls and surrounding communities.

The campaign that was announced by Secretary Eric K. Shinseki during a presentation at the VA National Summit Ending Homelessness among Veterans, has worked to make improvements in the Post-9/11 GI Bill, healthcare, entrepreneurship, and other areas.

During the speech Shinseki said, “Our plan enlarges the scope of VA’s efforts to combat homelessness. In the past, VA focused largely on getting homeless Veterans off the streets. Our five-year plan aims also at preventing them from ever ending up homeless.”

In Sioux Falls the services that will help end Veterans’ homelessness are:

  • Outreach to homeless Veterans including visits to area agencies and six stand downs in Sioux Falls, Wagner, Ft. Thompson, Watertown, and Aberdeen plus Sioux City, Iowa
  • A seven-bed contract residential program
  • 65 HUD/VA Supported Housing vouchers received for Sioux Falls and 25 for Sioux City
  • Homeless Veterans Support Employment Program
  • Veterans Justice Outreach Program for Veterans who are involved with the judicial system
  • Health Care Re-entry services for Veterans who are incarcerated
  • Sioux Falls Vet Center counseling and socio-economic assistance

The kickoff will be held at the Belbas Theatre at the Washington Pavilion, 301 W. Main Street, Sioux Falls beginning at 9 a.m.

Pascua Yaqui Tribe Honor Veterans With Memorial Wall

“Save for them a place inside of you and save a backward glance for places they can no longer go. Be not ashamed to say you loved them. Take what they have taught you with their dying and keep it your own.”

Those words, written by a Vietnam GI over three decades ago, could just as well have been penned by a soldier in World War I (“The War to End All Wars”) in which 116,500 died as, for the first time in our nation’s history, American soldiers went abroad to defend foreign soil against aggression.

There have been far too many instances of armed conflict since then – 400,000 making the ultimate sacrifice in World War II; over 54,000 who perished in the Korean War; additional thousands who died in Vietnam, and numbers that are still being counted from Iraq and Afghanistan.

As a tangible tribute, Washington D.C. has played host to veterans memorials starting with the 1931 District of Columbia War Memorial thru the WWII edifice between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial to the nearby Korean War Veterans and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Walls.

The newest such demonstration of respect for our deceased military is to be dedicated on Veteran’s Day in a section of an Arizona desert cemetery dedicated solely to military members of the Pascua Yaqui Pueblo Tribe.

Until recently, federal spending had excluded veterans cemeteries located on reservations, but tribal persistency paid off as mindsets changed and cemetery funding to tribal governments became one of several new initiatives recognizing contributions of Native American troops. The newest edifice comes as a result of a $320,000 grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs – making the Yaqui tribe the only American Indian group currently federally funded for a memorial wall.

“We built a homemade brick and mortar memorial a few years ago, but couldn’t go further because of a lack of funding, so we began applying for a grant to pay for a proper structure,” says former tribal chairman David Ramirez, a retired Air Force veteran who coordinates military matters on the 202-acre southern Arizona reservation.

“Yaquis have always been a warrior society and have a long history of military service, famous from historical Spanish times to now – first because we love our country, and second, because we lost the land once and don’t want to lose it again… so we fight to protect it. For us, this was a matter of respect for our veterans who gave so much for their country,” says current tribal chairman Peter Yucupicio. “This is a tangible sign of respect, another way to show honor for our deceased military, and further evidence to our veterans that the tribe does not forget them.”

Nearly three-dozen service men and women representing all branches of the service are interred in the current veterans plot adjacent to the pueblo’s tribal cemetery. Other deceased veterans are buried with family members in the tribal plot, nearby but off the reservation, and in pueblos south-of-the-border in tribal lands in Mexico. “All their names will be engraved in the new marble and granite wall,” says Ramirez.

Upwards of three acres of the tribe’s limited land base is being dedicated to veteran’s use with 400 marker sites. “We weren’t gifted with tons of land and it’s hard to put the third largest tribe, population-wise, in a small space, but like everything else the Pascua Yaqui tribe does – not only are we doing this for our veterans, but for all Native American veterans. It’s not only for us, it’s for all who can benefit and other tribes can follow our lead to obtain funding to properly honor their own veterans,” Yucupicio says.

Although National Guard jets and Army helicopters from nearby military facilities will do fly-overs during the dedication, the tribe’s own military society color guard ceremonies will use drums instead of a bugler playing taps and three salutes with fireworks will replace the traditional rifle volleys.

Both tribal leaders note: “It is our belief that fireworks open the heavens so our departed veterans can freely ascend to the flower world.”

Veteran Virtual Career Fair Welcomed by Sen. Murkowski

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) expressed appreciation with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ decision to observe Veterans Day with a national virtual job fair on November 10.

On November 8, she said: “Alaska’s veteran community is the highest per capita in the nation and they’re spread across the state, requiring flying or driving great distances to seek job opportunities. This event lets those Alaskans with Internet access point and click their way to the next step in their career instead. It’s a good first step in serving those who served us – whether they are dealing with some of the snows we’ve had so far this season or off the road system altogether – though a lot more help is needed to comprehensively address the needs of Alaska’s veterans.”

So far more than 60 military-friendly national employers from both the private and federal sectors and more than 36,000 veterans have registered to participate.

For more information: Veterans can pre-register at for this event here. From 7 a.m. – 12 p.m. AKST on Thursday, veterans can log in and visit employer booths, view job openings, apply for jobs, watch employer videos and presentations, chat live with recruiters, and complete on-the-spot video interviews.

Honoring Native Veterans on Veteran’s Day 2011

Today, November 11, 2011, Veteran’s Day, Indian Country Today Media Network looks to pay honor to those brave warriors that have served in the United States Military, defending their tribe and the U.S.

These Native veterans have not only served in times of battle along George Washington but are currently serving to this day at a rate that is the highest per capita among any ethnicity.

From Native warriors like Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Geronimo to the Navajo Code Talkers of World Wars I & II to Lori Piestewa, these brave men and women continue to honor their heritage.

In honor of them, ICTMN has compiled the following videos honoring Native Veterans.

Native American Veterans – Veteran’s Day by Memimages

Click here to view the embedded video.

201 Native American Veterans Tribute by donaldkelly777

Click here to view the embedded video.

Native American Veteran Memorial by pinkfink16

Click here to view the embedded video.

TAPS on the Native American Flute, Charles Littleleaf by flutiegurl

Click here to view the embedded video.

Pfc. Lori Ann Piestewa Tribute by FancyShawlDancr

Click here to view the embedded video.

Native American Memorial Day Tribute by saj1998

Click here to view the embedded video.

Navajo Pow Wow in Baghdad Iraq at Saddams old Palace by sluggard01

Click here to view the embedded video.

Native Americans Rights-A Tribute To Veterans by bonniebbonnets

Click here to view the embedded video.

Soldier Boy by nativeprincess81

Click here to view the embedded video.

American Indians in the US Army – Honoring Traditions by ForTheHonorOfOurLand

Click here to view the embedded video.

Statement by NCAI President Jefferson Keel on Veteran’s Day

Today, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) joins all Americans in honoring the men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces. For over twenty years I served alongside men and women from every walk of life and from every corner of this country, to protect our freedom. It is my privilege as the President of NCAI to recognize the sacrifice and selfless contributions of our nation’s service members, of both Native and non-Native heritage. Our unified purpose to defend our constitution, our people, and our sovereignty, is the greatest equalizer and American Indian and Alaska Native people are proud of our contribution to the United States.

American Indians and Alaska Natives serve at the highest rate per capita and we honor the place of warriors in our communities and in our culture on a daily basis. In Indian country we always recognize our veterans first, they open our ceremonies, and they carry the flags of our nations. Our veterans are our most valiant warriors. And yet, we as a country and as tribal nations can always do more on a daily basis to honor and serve our veterans. In the days and months to come it will be imperative that we continue to improve our services for our returning veterans.

According to the federal government, there are over 137,000 American Indian and Alaska Native veterans living in the United States and ten percent of these veterans are women. The Pentagon estimates that nearly 24,000 American Indian and Alaska Native active duty personnel currently serve across the Armed Forces. On a daily basis active duty members become veterans and too many times our veterans return home to find that their greatest challenges still lie ahead.

At the National Congress of American Indians, we remain committed to finding the path for our veterans to become tribal leaders, teachers, business owners, active citizens, and successful parents.  NCAI continues to be fully dedicated to serving veterans when they return to civilian life. We’ll continue to work with the US Department of Veterans Affairs and the agency’s Office of Tribal Government Relations to remember our veterans with the greatest honor; reciprocating their service with an equal or greater dedication to serve them.

I extend NCAI’s deepest gratitude to our nation’s veterans today and to their families. Thank you for your service.

Jefferson Keel, Lt. Governor of the Chickasaw Nation and President of NCAI, served over twenty years in the United States Army.  He served as a Platoon Sergeant and Platoon Leader, both in peacetime and in combat. President Keel also served two extended tours of duty in the 1st Cavalry Division and the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam and received numerous awards and decorations for heroism, including two Purple Hearts.

Tester’s VOW to Hire Heroes Act Passes Senate

The outcome may not have been unanimous but it was as close as it could get as the Senate recently passed Montana Senator Jon Tester’s bill to put more veterans back to work.

The VOW to Hire Heroes Act aims to connect veterans with good-paying jobs and passed by a Senate vote of 94-1. The bill combines popular proposals from both sides of the aisle and Tester has called it “the most significant piece of veterans’ jobs legislation since I’ve been in the Senate.”

“This package has good ideas from both Republicans and Democrats,” Tester said. “Its passage is a victory that belongs to the many Montanans who came to me with concerns over this nation’s unacceptably high veterans’ unemployment rate.”

According to a press release, a major component of the bill is a proposal Tester introduced earlier this year to make the transition to post-military work as seamless as possible. For years, veterans have faced difficulty counting their military experience toward professional skills certifications.

Aspects of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act include:

  • Military experience counting for veterans who wish to become civilian truck drivers, paramedics or health providers, mechanics or engineers,
  • Provides tax incentives for companies that hire veterans – particularly those who have been unemployed for long periods of time,
  • Makes the Transition Assistance Program mandatory for most service members transitioning to civilian status,
  • Expands educational and training opportunities for older veterans

Tester has stated the Act will not increase the national deficit and will not raise taxes.

Text of his VOW to Hire Heroes Act is available online here.

Vietnam Veterans Honored, Receive Pendleton Blankets

PABLO, Mont.—“Vietnam veterans have paid their dues in many ways and continue to do so,” Tony Incashola, a Vietnam veteran and director of the Salish Pend d’Oreille culture committee, said. “Today America realizes the sacrifices of not only Vietnam veterans, but all veterans.”

Roughly 300 people filled the seats in the dining hall at the Joe McDonald Health & Athletic Center during Veteran’s Day, November 11, on the Salish-Kootenai College campus to honor all veterans but especially Vietnam veterans. E.T. “Bud” Moran, tribal chairman, served as emcee and explained that in past years veterans of World War I, World War II, and the Korean War had been honored.

“Vietnam veterans are a group that has never been rightly honored. When we came home we were spit on and had stuff thrown at us but that’s all in the past,” Moran noted. “I know people are sorry for the way they were treated but it’s still in a lot of our hearts. Now we’re going to honor Vietnam veterans.”

The reservation and families are tightly knit and have a long history of volunteering for military service as is typical of American Indian peoples. There were 336 people from this reservation alone that served during the Vietnam era and 226 of them are still alive. Many of those were in the audience on this day. Incashola said, “As the colors come by, I see the faces of those who sacrificed their lives. I see the face of my brother. I see the face of my friends and relatives. All brave people who have sacrificed their lives so we may enjoy what we have today. We must never forget what they have done for us.”

Retired Brigadier General Hal Stearns was the featured speaker for the event. Before his retirement in April 2000, after 35 years of service, he had commanded all the army guard troops in Montana, some 3,400 men and women. He began by saying, “I’m very, very honored to be here today.” He spoke of a line from the book Band of Brothers. “A little boy, standing next to his grandpa, said ‘grandpa, were you a hero in the war?’ and the grandpa said ‘No, but I was in the company of heroes.’ That’s the way I feel today. I am in the company of heroes.”

General Stearns captured the attention of all as he spoke with passion and pride about the U.S. military and memories of his service and those he served with. He had listened to Sirrus radio while driving this day as it broadcast the service from Arlington National Cemetery and said he had to pull over because he had tears in his eyes. “It hit me again when the President this morning said, ‘This hallowed place is where our heroes come to rest.’ I met a Medal of Honor winner one time and he called me ‘General’ and I said, ‘you outrank me many times over.’”

Stearns always visits the monuments and memorials, “these special stops,” when he visits Washington D.C. “When I go by the Marine Memorial I think of Iwo Jima and the flag and Louis Charlo. When I’m at that Vietnam wall I look at the names of the guys I served with.”

The most gripping piece in the Pentagon for Stearns is a small picture of a tired, muddy, hollow-eyed soldier. “The caption reads, ‘What do you want soldier?’ His response always hits me between the eyes. ‘Just give me tomorrow.’ That picture says it all. It says why we’re honoring the Vietnam veterans today: the agony of war, the pain, the sacrifice, the sadness, the bravery, the nobility, the cost, the heavy burdens, the struggles and the heroism. That picture in many ways represents any soldier, marine, airman, sailor, coast guard, who has ever served.”

Following the talks, the songs of honor, and the prayers, a steak luncheon was served. During the lunch each Vietnam veteran was presented with a beautiful Pendleton blanket in red, white, and blue colors with the hope it would help protect each of them and their families. General Stearns made a point of shaking hands with each veteran and thanking him for his service.

Robert Bell, U.S. Army veteran who served in Vietnam, was also presented the Medal of Valor from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes for valorous service.

Friendship Formed on the Frontlines

8. Joe Weaselhead 270x297 Vietnam Veterans Honored, Receive Pendleton Blankets

Joe Weaselhead

Joe Weaselhead served in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne in 1969-70. Weaselhead shares his gripping, story of a friendship built out of survival that lasts to this day.

“I met Ken Lennoye from East Lansing, Michigan. We met at a place called Hamburger Hill in Vietnam and became very good friends. These people were coming up the hill and I noticed him. He was having a hard time so I reached down and pulled him up.”

“We stood there and I asked how long he’d been in the country. He said ‘about three weeks.’ I’d only been in the country two or three weeks ahead of that. About 10 seconds later there was an explosion and we got hit. I had been walking point and the point man was killed just after I got off point. We hit the ground and fired. We were pretty new and didn’t know what to do. But we became fast friends.”

“We were out in a rice paddy and he fell into a stream that was pretty deep and he had about 150 pounds of stuff on him. It dragged him right down. He had a very expensive piece of equipment, a starlight that we used to see at night. At first I thought it was funny. Pretty soon I noticed he wasn’t coming back up. So I reached down as far as I could, grabbed him and pulled him back up. I pulled him on shore but he was concerned about the starlight and jumped in to get it. We didn’t find it. It was too dark and didn’t know where the enemy was so thought we’d better knock that off. That’s where I saved his life.

“Later he paid that back in another incident. He pushed me out of the way,” he paused as he remembered how it had saved his own life.

“I got transferred into another airborne unit. When I was pulling out on the chopper I could see him so I just waved to him, gave him a hand salute. That was the last time I’d seen him. But we stayed in contact over the years. He named one of his kids after me. He kept saying he’d come visit. I figured it would never happen. Then, all of a sudden, here he was. He came up September 18. I just could not believe it after 41 years. We had a good time and I made a promise I’d go see him. And I’m going to.”

Vietnam was tough and the effects are still close to the surface. He explained that he keeps a pistol on one side of his chair at home and a knife at the other side. He doesn’t know why, just feels he must. And the nightmares still persist.