On August 16 in Gallup, New Mexico, incoming residents of the 200th house built free-of-charge by Operation Footprint for local, less fortunate Navajo families cut a red ribbon in honor of the service. Operation Footprint is a Department of Defense Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) mission created to improve military readiness while filling a community need.
“The military is fighting for our country, but I never knew they would help build homes too,” said Vera Vecenti-Hoskie, who received the new home with her husband Jimmy Hoskie and their daughter Regina. “I am thankful for them. We were very cold and freezing, but have better living conditions now!”
While the couple expressed excitement to have a stove, refrigerator and appliances, they were most grateful to have running water, reported the Air National Guard Readiness Center.
Operation Footprint constructed and furnished the homes for underserved Navajo families throughout the Gallup region. In related efforts to increase the quality of life in the area, the Operation also provided waterlines, upgrades and reconstruction of the St. Michaels Association for Special Education in Window Rock, Arizona.
The relationship not only benefits the Navajo recipients; it is designed to help train the military.
“Instead of the community thanking the military, we would like to thank you for bringing the military into your community and providing them with training that Reserve and Guard members might not otherwise get,” said Col. Scott Sauter from the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs to attendees at the ribbon cutting. “Thank you for the opportunity to train for readiness so that [the military] may provide the freedoms we enjoy each day.”
Attendees of the ribbon-cutting ceremony included: leaders and members of the IRT, Air National Guard, Veterans Administration, Southwest Indian Foundation, Navajo Housing Authority and other military-affiliated organizations and local agencies.
“Today is about honoring this land, this home, and this family and to celebrate that they will be allowed the opportunity to grow to see their grandchildren reach new heights," said Roberta Roberts, the public relations director for the Navajo Housing Authority.
The Hoskie family shared their deep appreciation. “People from all over the world have come to help us and that’s truly a blessing!” said Hoskie.
“All of my days, I could see the outside world with their modern home and modern facilities,” said Vecenti-Hoskie. “I prayed that my family would have that someday and boy, that prayer was answered today.”