World War II veteran James Grim, seated in the center, visits with, from the left, Junior Miss Cherokee Danya Pigeon, Miss Cherokee Madison Whitekiller and Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. The Cherokee Nation officials delivered valentine cards at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center in Muskogee.
The Cherokee Nation delivered hundreds of handmade valentine cards to veterans in Muskogee Friday, just in time for Valentine’s Day on Wednesday.
Deputy Chief and U.S. Navy veteran S. Joe Crittenden, Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Miss Cherokee Madison Whitekiller and Junior Miss Cherokee Danya Pigeon gave the cards to dozens of veterans at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center in Muskogee as part of tribe’s Valentines for Vets program.
Now in its 10th year, Cherokee Nation’s Valentines for Vets program shares handmade valentines with Cherokee and non-Cherokee veterans across the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction.
“We always enjoy going out into our communities and shaking hands with the men and women that served this great country,” Crittenden said. “This program gives us a chance to spend time with veterans and remind them that we care and are so grateful for their service.”
This year, cards were donated by Cherokee Nation Businesses, Cherokee Nation Tribal Youth Council, Cherokee Immersion Charter School and several other area schools and churches. Veterans at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center in Muskogee, Claremore Veterans Center and veteran health clinics in Jay, Vinita and Tulsa will benefit from the handmade cards.
For U.S. Army veteran Nelson Brown, 72, the visit was a chance to make some new friends on his last day at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center in Muskogee.
“It was such an honor to have a visit with the folks from Cherokee Nation today,” Brown said. “It was fun talking to the Deputy Chief, a fellow veteran, and meeting all of the nice young people. You don’t see much except nurses and doctors in here, so it was a real treat.”
Cherokee Nation’s Valentines for Vets program was started in 2008 by the late Rogan Noble, a Marine Corps veteran and advocate for the tribe’s veterans’ affairs. The program is held in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Salute to Veteran Patients week.
For more information about the Cherokee Nation Valentines for Vets program, call the Cherokee Nation Veterans Center at 918-772-4166.
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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