Getting health care when you’re a veteran living on the Navajo reservation can be an all-day affair, starting with hours of driving to Albuquerque. Last week, the Navajo Nation Council unanimously approved more than $2 million to fund a veterans service center on tribal land.
The center would offer physical therapy and checkups, and a doctor would always be available. Jared Touchin, a spokesman for the Navajo Nation’s Office of the Speaker, said having this resource close to home could help more Navajo veterans keep up with their health and wellness.
"It’s something that would benefit thousands of veterans because right now they have to travel either to Phoenix or Albuquerque," he said. "They have to travel many hours just to go to a hospital.
Touchin said the center would be built on the reservation in Thoreau, 30 miles from Gallup.
Altogether, it would cost $4 million to build. The state and Thoreau’s local government would pitch in for the rest. But the center isn’t a sure thing just yet, and the council’s funding proposal must still be approved by President Russell Begaye.
KUNM’s Public Health New Mexico project is funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the McCune Charitable Foundation, and the Con Alma Health Foundation.