By Contributing Editor Blair Drake
The Grand Canyon (Ariz.) Chapter of MOAA joined other local veterans’ organizations to support Native American veterans on the Navajo Nation during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The chapter, through its involvement with the Northern Arizona Veterans Coalition, learned about the need for food and dry goods on the reservation.
“We have a good networking system, so when there’s a need like this, the coalition puts out the call and groups take action,” explained Grand Canyon Chapter President Lt. Col. Steve Jarvis, USA (Ret). The chapter quickly approved funds, and Jarvis and his wife went out and purchased several hundreds of dollars’ worth of food and supplies.
He said that although the Navajo Nation received relief aid and other support during the pandemic, the challenge for many was accessing these resources. This led Native American veterans to start this initiative and then deliver the donated items to the tribe elders, families in need, and other veterans living in remote areas of the western Navajo Nation.
“Many of the recipients have physical limitations or lack resources to travel to food distribution points on the reservation,” said Jarvis.
He said the Grand Canyon Chapter, located in Flagstaff, is involved in many community-service projects. The chapter recently received a 2020 Community Outreach Grant from the MOAA Foundation to help provide housing, food, and emergency financial relief for local veterans in need.
“One of the benefits of these efforts is getting MOAA’s name out there, which we’re always trying to do,” he said. In fact, Jarvis had the opportunity to speak with Arizona State Rep. Bob Thorpe when he dropped off the chapter’s donations.
“But this initiative was especially important because Flagstaff borders the Navajo Nation," he said. "They’re part of our community, and we always want to give back to our community.”