VFSO adds staff to assist veterans and families in GRIC

Oct. 4, 2019


Christopher Lomahquahu

Gila River Indian News


The Veterans and Family Services Office has added new staff to increase their efforts to connect Veterans and their families with much-needed services. Palmer Miller, VFSO Coordinator, Eric White, VFSO Veterans Service Officer, and Samantha Jackson, VFSO Administrative Assistant, have joined the VFSO and will be assisting Veterans in the Gila River Indian Community.


“It was really, good to have them there and to be able to respond to the issues,” said Wesley Rhodes, Veterans Peer Support Specialist. At recent Veteran’s round tables, Rhodes said the new staff have been helpful in answering questions veterans have presented on services.


Miller and White both have years of experience connecting Veterans and families with services and want to educate vets about what services are available to them. They have a combined 48 years of services in the military. Miller served 23 years in the U.S. Army as a military policeman, while White spent 25 years in the United States Marine Corps in communications.


“This office understands, there are a lot of things, that can be made available to veterans,” said Miller.

White said educating veterans on what benefits are available to them can be difficult, because some have had bad experiences with the [Veterans Administration]. “What I say to them, you served your country, these are the benefits, that you are entitled to, you earned them,” said White.


With new staff on-board, the VFSO will continue to gather information from Community veterans and reach out to those, who need to be connected with services from the Veterans Affairs.


“I think it shows how far we have come in being a fully-staffed office,” said Darrell Whitman, Veterans Peer Support Specialist. “You can ask two years ago, what our office would have looked like, now we have the staff to move forward, looking at our next journey in serving veterans and their families of the Community,’ said Whitman.


Getting the word out on what is available to veterans, also includes obtaining their feedback on what the VFSO can do for them. “They fill out a survey along with the intake they fill out as well. It helps our department determine what direction we need to go in order to fulfill veterans and their family’s needs,” said Jackson.


The VFSO staff thanked the Community for their support of the VFSO and the creation of key positions, that will help veterans and families with their questions and needs. “Right now, we are taking the next step, we are being even more helpful, now that we have Samantha, Palmer and Eric on-board,” said Whitman.


The VFSO is located at the Old Executive Ki building 1, in Sacaton. For more information contact VFSO at (520)562-3389. There are also two satellite sites that are operating as of now one in Blackwater in the multi-purpose building and the other in Casa Blanca at the Veteran’s Building.