Veterans march against veto, override drafted

Veterans line up amid American and Marines flags.

Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero
Veterans protest the veto of a recent bill that would allow distribution of benefits from the 4 percent of tribal revenues that is supposed to go into the principal of the Navajo Veterans Trust Fund.


The Navajo veterans’ protest against President Russell Begaye’s veto of the Veterans Trust Fund amendments went on as planned last Thursday morning.

Since Begaye was on travel and Vice President Jonathan Nez was speaking at the Sage Memorial Hospital staff luncheon, it was up to Hubert Smith, administrator of the Navajo Veterans Administration, to hear the veterans out. “This is a statement from president letting you know that we are working with delegates to drop another legislation that would provide more funds to veterans without doing away with the trust fund and housing program,” said Smith. “But, I’m here to listen to your comments and take them back to president.”

An override bill has been drafted and is posted for a five-day comment period.

Ryan Sandoval, Fort Defiance Agency Veterans association vice commander, led the protest march from the Window Rock fairgrounds to the president’s office, replacing Olin Kieyoomia, Fort Defiance Veterans Agency commander, after the president’s office petitioned for a protection order against him last week. “One of the main focal points is that we are trying to adjust is the interest rate,” said Sandoval. With $146 million in the Veterans Trust Fund, Smith said the main concern is the bill’s wording and how that would prevent the trust fund from growing. “That bill could still move forward,” said Smith.

The Veterans Trust Fund bill was vetoed by Begaye because the language was unclear. Begaye felt it could be interpreted as de-funding the housing program for veterans. Another fault he found with the bill is the diversion of the set-aside for the Veterans Trust Fund.

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Categories: Politics

About Author

Arlyssa Becenti

Arlyssa Becenti reports on Navajo Nation Council, Business, Fort Defiance Agency, New Mexico State politics and Art/fashion. Her clans are Nát'oh dine'é Táchii'nii, Bit'ahnii, Kin łichii'nii, Kiyaa'áanii. She’s originally from Fort Defiance and has a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University. Before working for the Navajo Times she was a reporter for the Gallup Independent. She can be reached at