Navajo Council addresses delays in veterans assistance

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — The Navajo Nation Council’s Budget and Finance Committee (BFC) discussed the processing of veterans’ assistance payments. The committee received a detailed report from the Navajo Nation Veterans Administration, shedding light on issues affecting the disbursement of vital support to Navajo veterans.

“As chairwoman of the Budget and Finance Committee, I’d like to reassure our Navajo veterans that the Committee is actively addressing these challenges. We are concerned about the lack of communication from the Navajo Nation Veterans Administration regarding these issues,” Chair Shaandiin Parrish said.

The report highlighted data entry errors and miscommunication within the Navajo Nation Veterans Administration that have led to delays lasting between two to eight weeks. Navajo Nation Veterans Administration Executive Director Bobbie Baldwin emphasized the need to rectify these setbacks promptly.

“A minor detail like the sequence of a name can disrupt this process. Delegates are accountable to the veterans for these issues,” Council Delegate Lomardo Aseret said.

Council Delegate Amber Kanazbah questioned the role of the Office of the Controller in causing delays. The discussion revolved around the internal support and the necessity for modernizing the archaic process of updating profiles and data through a centralized office.

BFC Vice Chair Carl R. Slater addressed the data-based nature of the problems, questioning OOC’s plan for digitizing the process. OOC Accounting Manager Robert Willie proposed implementing a standard monthly date for issuing veterans assistance payments, accompanied by a timeline for error corrections.

“We need to establish a date for these payments to veterans, allowing time for error corrections before payments are made,” Willie explained.

Delegate Crotty recommended that the Veterans Administration continue providing regular reports to the BFC until improvements are implemented. The focus shifted to addressing staffing issues within OOC and implementing best practices to overcome existing limitations.

Navajo Nation President Dr. Buu Nygren and Vice-President Richelle Montoya attended the session. The Budget and Finance Committee voted four in favor and zero opposed to accepting the report, committing to ongoing collaboration with OOC and the Veterans Administration to expedite assistance for Navajo veterans.

Infornation provided by the Navajo Nation Council.

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