Jonathan Wheelhouse
Singer and dancer DeCymbr' Maye Frank, Diné, sings the National Anthem in Navajo during the first annual Native American Veterans Association summit in Long Beach, California.

Native American Veterans Saw a Need, Filled a Need

Jonathan Wheelhouse

On August 7 and 8, the Native American Veterans Association (NAVA) hosted over 100 attendees at their first annual Veterans Summit at the Hilton Executive Meeting Center in Long Beach, California.

Created in 2001, NAVA is a Native American non-profit organization that offers support and services to tribal and non-tribal veterans and their families, according to a booklet provided at the summit.

NAVA founders William Givens from the Employment Development Department Workforce Service branch and Dave Rambeau, executive director of the American Indian Involvement Center, created the organization after recognizing a need for a Native American veterans support and advocacy group in the greater Los Angeles area.

One of the most important things is that communities unite to offer veterans “a show of support,” said Givens. “They need to be welcomed home and feel welcome. That’s what the greatest need is.”

To help veterans adjust to the lives and communities they come home to, NAVA has outlined four major directions of focus: readjustment, families and relationships, education and training and mental health and wellness.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are an estimated 19 million war veterans currently living in the United States. The Veterans Summit aims to increase awareness of NAVA and their directions by providing presentations from several experts in relevant fields such as human services, healthcare, housing, physiological services and business development.

Givens, who’s also the commander of NAVA, said he felt the first summit was a “great success.”

Givens said they reached their goal of having 100 attendees and provided a place that “veterans can get up and ask questions about what they need to know.”

For more information on NAVA, or to become a member, go to