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SDDVA Secretary Whitlock’s October Column – Honoring Native American Heritage




For more information, contact: Audry Ricketts (South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs) at 605-773-8242 or audry.ricketts@state.sd.us  


Traditionally, October and November have been two months that South Dakota celebrates and honors Native American heritage.  


During that time, we have many opportunities to celebrate the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories, and to acknowledge the important contributions, achievements, and sacrifices of Native people.


Many Americans know the story of the Code Talkers during World War II. But did you know that Native American servicemembers have fought for our nation in every war since our Founding?


South Dakota is fortunate to have eight tribal veterans service officers located in Eagle Butte, Fort Thompson, Lower Brule, Pine Ridge, Rosebud, Agency Village, Wagner and on the Standing Rock Reservation.  They stand ready to aid veterans in transition from a warrior’s journey to civilian life through readjustment assistance, strengthening family ties, obtaining veterans benefits, links to mental health and wellness services, and career and educational training.


Code talkers played a pivotal role in past successful U.S. war efforts. It is important that we honor and highlight the memories of what they accomplished and ensure this history is not forgotten. Their code saved lives and gave the military a way to secretly convey its battle plans on America’s way to victory.


And for those soldiers who have fallen, we honor their service and sacrifice at four Native American Veterans Cemeteries. One each in Pine Ridge, White River, Sisseton, and McLaughlin.


Let us keep the flame of the soldiers’ dreams alive; let us preserve the cultures and traditions in this land of the free and home of the brave. God bless those who serve and have served in uniform, and God bless this wonderful country of ours.


Greg Whitlock, Secretary

South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs