SGT TRIXSTER, GENAI HÉETEWIT LAÁMNA

UNITED STATES ARMY VETERAN

I have ten years with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers as a Boat Operator for Bridging Companies, with two tours serving in Iraq. I have had people look at me skeptically while attending Veteran functions. I’ve been overlooked when people walk down the line shaking veterans’ hands, even though I have served over a decade, because I do not fit the stereotypical Veteran profile. While sporting my U.S. Army Veteran hat, I’ve had another woman stop me and question coyly, as if addressing a child, “Who’s hat is that? Are you sure that’s your hat? Really?” And I thought about my ten years with the U.S. Army, all the training I’ve had, the multiple deployments I went on, and the soldiers and civilians I’ve seen pass away or lose limbs…. and I looked that woman dead in the eye and said, “Yes Ma’am. I am a Veteran.”

As for services as a veteran, I am currently re-applying for disability. I have to try to come up with medical documents that the Army & VA should have, since they provided the care to me which produced the documents. Without those documents, my chances of denial are high, which is depressing and disheartening. It feels like once again I am having to prove my service to my country.

Download a print-quality image (24 x 36) of this veteran’s portrait here.

DESIREE COYOTE, QEPSQÉPS TIMÍNE TIYETÍPEC

UNITED STATES ARMY VETERAN

I’ve always considered myself as a person with prior military service not so much as a veteran. I am a peacetime veteran.

While I’ve never served in combat/conflict, I’ve walked through all the fear, stress, honor and pride when my daughter, Genai Trixster (combat bridge engineer), and son, Ephraim Cruz (Stryker brigade), served over 11 years each respectively and both with two tours (13-15 months each tour) in Operation Iraqi Freedom. My dad, Clifford Allen Sr., enrolled Nez Perce, served as a paratrooper and many of his siblings (female and male) served in various branches of the military. On my mom’s side, Virginia Shillal Schell enrolled Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Uncle Thomas Shillal served as a paratrooper.

It is an honor to walk in with fellow veterans at tribal celebrations knowing that I Am Not Invisible!

Download a print-quality image (24 x 36) of this veteran’s portrait here.

Listen to this veteran tell her story here.