VA officials and the Taos Pueblo Tribe in New Mexico will meet July 30 to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will grant eligibility and access to VA’s Native American Direct Loan (NADL) benefit to Native American Veterans living on the tribe’s land.
The NADL program provides VA home loans to eligible Native American Veterans to finance the purchase, construction or improvement of homes on Federal Trust Land, or to refinance a prior NADL loan to reduce the interest rate.
“This is momentous for the Veterans of the Taos Pueblo Tribe,” said Tammie Mirabal, Taos Pueblo Housing executive director. “We are recognizing our Veterans on a tribal and VA level, and we believe that the opportunities NADL will provide will have a positive impact on the community.”
The Taos Pueblo tribe has a rich history of serving in the United States Armed Forces. More than 100 of their members fought in the Civil War, and today approximately one-third of the 1,500 men and women living in the community have previously served our nation in uniform.
“This is our homeland,” said John Romero, a Vietnam Army Veteran who serves with the Taos Pueblo Veteran Color Guard. “It is our honor to protect it as we’ve done for centuries.”
Mirabal worked with Romero, Mary Moody, a Naval Reserve Veteran and member of the Taos Pueblo Color Guard, and VA officials to bring the NADL program to their community. Mirabal began discussions to implement the program alongside Taos Pueblo housing attorney Denise Zuni in February 2015. On June 4, the Taos Pueblo Tribal Council voted and approved the resolutions required to implement the NADL program.
Most recently, VA has signed MOUs with the Mescalero Apache Tribe also located in New Mexico, the Northern Ute Tribe in Utah and the Prairie Band Potawatomi in Kansas. To date, 94 tribes have entered into MOUs with VA to offer NADL loans to their Native American Veterans.
“To the people of the Taos Pueblo, home is where the heart is. Veterans will be empowered by this great victory,” said Moody. “We are very grateful that this has all fallen into place.”
The signing ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. with a procession through the historic village, and then continue at the Taos Pueblo Community Center. Members of the media and the community are encouraged to attend.
VA representatives will be available to discuss health care, benefits, and services. The Department of New Mexico Veterans Services will also be on site in support of the event.
This article was written by public affairs specialist Maegan Hester and NADL coordinator Ivonne Perez.