Crittenden nominated as first Cherokee Nation Veterans Affairs secretary
Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., standing, on Aug. 16 announces that former Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden is his choice for the proposed Cabinet-level secretary of Veterans Affairs at the Cherokee Nation Veterans Center in Tahlequah. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Former Deputy Chief and Navy veteran S. Joe Crittenden, who on Aug. 16 was nominated for the newly proposed secretary of Veterans Affairs position, writes suggestions made by veterans at the tribe’s Veterans Center. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – During a roundtable discussion with veterans of the armed forces at the Cherokee Nation’s Veterans Center, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. on Aug. 16 nominated former Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden to be the first Cabinet-level secretary of Veterans Affairs.
The initiative was part of Hoskin and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner’s first 100 days in office.
“I think to build on what we’ve done here, and Deputy Chief Warner and I have talked many times about it, how can we raise the profile of our veterans program, the Veterans Center? How can we put ourselves into a position to do even more?” Hoskin said. “We have sent to the Council legislation to create the first Cabinet-level office of Veterans Affairs. And we’re going to tell our citizens and we’re going to tell the world that our veterans program is that important, that we ought to have a Cabinet-level position.”
Crittenden served in the Navy from April 1964 to August 1967, and as the former deputy chief he helped ensure the Veterans Center was opened. He oversaw the Cherokee Warrior Flight and signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for veterans to use the tribe’s health centers for routine care they would normally get at VA health facilities. He also signed an agreement with the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development so the tribe could be one of 26 tribes to be part of a housing program for homeless Native American veterans.
“It blesses my heart. We talk about sacrifice that has been given by veterans through the ages,” Crittenden said. “And we all know that in our families if we didn’t serve we have a father or an uncle or a grandfather or a grandmother or somebody that did serve this country. Blessings just keep coming. I thank you all so much, and I’m going to do everything I can to improve what’s already a success in our tribe.”
The Veterans Affairs secretary position will act on behalf of veterans, oversee the Veterans Center, the Cherokee Warrior Memorial, new and existing tribal partnerships with VA hospitals and Eastern Oklahoma Food Bank, the annual Cherokee Warrior Flight and other annual veteran events.
“I am honored to have been asked by Chief Hoskin and Deputy Chief Warner to be the Cherokee Nation’s first secretary of Veterans Affairs,” Crittenden added. “What a blessing our veterans have been to our great tribe and this great country. I can’t say enough about Cherokee Nation Veterans Center Director Barbara Foreman, who has made great strides for our Cherokee veterans and the services we offer them in recent years. I look forward to working with her to build on that progress in the coming years, with the Council of the Cherokee Nation’s approval.”
The Tribal Council was expected to vote on the proposal for the position and Crittenden’s nomination during the Aug. 29 Rules Committee meeting.