Veterans center coming to Sallisaw
Cherokee Nation Veterans Center customer service representative Norman Littledave sets out information brochures for veterans who visit the center in Tahlequah. The Oklahoma Veteran’s Commission recently selected Sallisaw as the site of the state’s new veterans center, and the CN has pledged up to $300,000 to help relocate the state center from Talihina. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
SALLISAW – Cherokee Nation officials applauded the Oklahoma Veteran’s Commission for selecting Sallisaw as the site of the state’s new veterans center and has pledged up to $300,000 to help with relocation and startup costs for the new center.
According to a CN press release, the center is relocating from Talihina following a history of poor management and poor care of veterans. House Bill 3042, passed by the Oklahoma Legislature in April, mandated a new center be located not more than 90 miles or two hours from Talihina, the release states. Sallisaw is about 70 miles from Talihina.
“We’re so pleased the veterans center will be relocating to Sallisaw, inside the Cherokee Nation, where we can provide startup support to get them off the ground now, and then work to identify ways to partner moving forward,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “Our veterans pledged their lives to preserve our freedoms, and they must be better taken care of.”
According to the release, Cherokee Nation Businesses will provide up to $300,000 to help relocate the center and restart operations in Sallisaw. In addition to financial assistance, the CN has pledged support through its Career Services program to secure the center’s workforce, the release states.
“I couldn’t be more proud to bring this veterans center to my hometown of Sallisaw,” Tribal Councilor Bryan Warner, council member for District 6 and member of the Sallisaw Improvement Corporation, said. “We fought for this center and were ready to provide whatever support the Veterans Commission needed to make this decision. I know the community of Sallisaw will be warm and welcoming to the center’s employees, veterans and veterans’ families. We can’t wait to show off our hospitality.”
According to the release, the CN already offers veterans support programs with its Veterans Center being a place to gather and fellowship as employees assist veterans in accessing Veterans Administration benefits.
The release states the CN and VA hospitals also have agreed to better care for Native American veterans by providing primary care and sharing chart information.
“Our commitment to veterans just grows with the relocation of this center to Sallisaw,” Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “Partnerships like this make our entire region stronger. Cherokee Nation is a model for how public-private-tribal partnerships should work.”
According to the release, community and civic organizations, along with local businesses and individuals, joined the effort to make Sallisaw the choice for the veterans center, which will be located on a 90-acre campus.
“I’ve never seen a people come together like this, and I am just so excited for our community,” Tribal Councilor E.O. Smith said. The veterans center will be located in his Dist. 5. “I am so proud of the role the Cherokee Nation played, as well as the entire community. We had businesses sending letters of support, and an individual even offered financial support. We pulled together as a community and did whatever it took to make this happen. This will have an impact on our county for generations.”