TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation in collaboration with the Oklahoma Air National Guard broke ground on April 5 to build homes for veterans at the Mige Glory housing addition.
The project, which was five years in the making, came to fruition as CN officials teamed with the U.S. Department of Defense Innovative Readiness Training program to begin working on 21 homes for Cherokee veterans.
The project will take at least three years, with the building of seven new single-family subsidized homes in the first year.
“We’re going to have around 800 engineers rotating through here this year constructing seven homes of phase one of this project,” said Master Sgt. Mitchell Sisco, Innovative Readiness Training operations manager. “So looking for a total of 21 homes by the time we’re done. It’ll be a culmination of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines that complete the construction of these homes and all the utilities, roads and everything else.”
Personnel from the Oklahoma Air National Guard, the Army National Guard, the Navy Reserve and the Air Force Reserve Command will construct the homes.
The project came about when Sisco assisted with a similar project in 2016 in Montana building homes for veterans on the Crow Nation reservation. He then brought the idea to CN leaders.
“We built 16 homes for veterans up there,” Sisco said. “I live here in Tahlequah and after coming home from that project I realized if we can do it in Montana, we can do it in Oklahoma. So I approached the Cherokee Nation and talked with them about how we can work together to make something like that happen. It’s five years later but here we are.”
Not only will veterans receive new homes, but the Innovative Readiness Training program was created so active military members will get hands-on training.
“All of the building that we do out here, all of the construction that you’ll see going on can translate to real world scenarios,” Sisco said. “Everything that they accomplish here helps to build their skills and increase their readiness in the event that they get called up to deploy.”
The housing addition is named for the late Mige Glory, a CN citizen, former tribal councilor and Army veteran who served as a clerk for the 122nd Evacuation Hospital in Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. recalled meeting Glory when Glory served on the Tribal Council with his father, Chuck Hoskin Sr., and remembering him as a man of few words but who made an impact as a public servant.
“I remember my father saying it then and he was saying it the other day, ‘Councilman Glory will not say a great deal during most of the meeting but at the end he would wrap it all up.’” Hoskin said. “He said he would say more in those few minutes than most of us said for that entire meeting in terms of its impact, in terms of its importance, in terms of reminding the Council why they are there, why the Cherokee Nation government is there and that is to serve the people. He would remind them of that on various occasions and on various issues. And we would do it in such a thoughtful way. That alone is the mark of good public servant.”
Hosking added that the project is a step to solving veteran homelessness in the nation.
“We know that Native Americans serve this country in the military in greater proportions,” he said. “About 3% of veterans are Native American and about 5% of veterans are Native American and are homeless. There is a homeless problem in this country for veterans. The trends are moving in the right direction but we’ve got more work to do.”
The Mige Glory addition will be on 30 acres provided by the tribe south of the Tribal Complex, with materials provided by the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation. The HACN will also manage the property and application process. The CN Office of Veterans Affairs and CN Emergency Management also support the project.