SALLISAW, Okla. – Cherokee Nation 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. The center is relocating from Talihina following a long history of poor management and poor care of veterans. House Bill 3042, passed by the Oklahoma legislature in April, mandated a new veterans center be located not more than 90 miles or two hours from Talihina. 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,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “Our veterans pledged their lives to preserve our freedoms, and they must be better taken care of.”
Cherokee Nation Businesses, the tribe’s corporate arm, will provide up to $300,000 to help relocate the center and restart operations in Sallisaw. In addition to financial assistance, the tribe has also pledged support through the Cherokee Nation’s Career Services program to secure the center’s workforce.
“I couldn’t be more proud to bring this veterans center to my hometown of Sallisaw,” said Cherokee Nation Tribal Councilor Bryan Warner, council member for District 6 and member of the Sallisaw Improvement Corporation. “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.”
The Cherokee Nation already offers many veterans support programs. The Cherokee Nation Veterans Center is a place to gather and fellowship, and employees assist veterans in accessing Veterans Administration benefits. The Cherokee Nation and VA hospitals also have an agreement to better care for Native American veterans by providing primary care and sharing chart information.
Cherokee veterans are honored monthly during Tribal Council meetings, and the annual Cherokee
Warrior Flight takes Cherokee veterans to Washington, D.C., to see the memorials built in their honor.
“Our commitment to veterans just grows with the relocation of this center to Sallisaw,” said Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. “Partnerships like this make our entire region stronger. Cherokee Nation is a model for how public-private-tribal partnerships should work.”
Several community and civic organizations, along with local businesses and even individuals, joined the effort to make Sallisaw the ideal choice for the new 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,” said E.O. Smith, Cherokee Nation Tribal Councilor for District 5, where the veterans center will be located. “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.”
Cherokee Nation News Release
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