Vice President Nez accepts Indian Health Service National Director’s Team Award

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IHS Navajo Area Director, CAPT Brian Johnson, Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez, and IHS Acting Director, RADM Michael D. Weahkee. Photo courtesy of Indian Health Service.

Contact: Jared King
Communications Director
202-682-7390

For Immediate Release

Vice President Nez accepts Indian Health Service National Director’s Team Award

WASHINGTON—On July 28, Vice President Jonathan Nez accepted the Indian Health Service National Director’s award to the Navajo Nation’s “Building Communities of Hope Team” for demonstrating leadership, integrity and compassion in bringing hope to the Navajo people and suicide prevention.

Navajo Vice President Jonathan Nez heartedly accepted the award on behalf of the Navajo Nation. “Suicide prevention is a major priority for the Begaye-Nez Administration,” said Vice President Nez.

“I’ve seen how suicide prevention programs, such as the Building Communities of Hope Tour, can heal a community after a devastating loss of one of our community members. It’s very important to raise awareness so that we do not have a stigma about talking about suicide. If you see somebody who needs help, reach out to them. If you need help, reach out to one of our team members. They are professionals trained to help those in need. We could not be more proud of this team and what they do for the Navajo Nation,” said Vice President Nez.

The vice president thanked the Building Communities of Hope team members for their outstanding leadership including Echohawk Lefthand, Yvonne Kee-Billison, Pax Harvey, Sage Bond, Theresa Galvin and the staff at the Navajo Department of Behavioral Health Services, Chairman Jonathan Hale and the Health, Education and Human Services Committee and the many partners who supported this initiative.

On November 30, 2015, President Begaye and Vice President Nez issued an executive order creating the Building Communities of Hope initiative to address suicide prevention for the Navajo people.

Since December 2015, the Building Communities of Hope Tour reached over 10,000 high school students at more than 60 locations across the Navajo Nation including students in border towns.

Additionally, 3,000 of the 6,000 Navajo Nation government employees have received suicide prevention training through the Building Communities of Hope initiative since it was created. The goal is to provide suicide prevention training through the initiative to the remaining 3,000 Navajo Nation government employees. The executive order declared the third week in December and the second week in June as “Navajo Nation Suicide Prevention Week.”

Rear Admiral Michael D. Weahkee, Acting Director, Indian Health Service recognized individuals and teams who have supported IHS by renewing and strengthening Tribal partnerships; bringing reform to the IHS; improving quality and access to care for IHS patients; and ensuring transparency; accountability; fairness and inclusion. The ceremony covered both 2015 and 2016 awards.

Darlene Begay, Health Promotion Disease Prevention Coordinator with the Navajo Nation Four Corners Regional Health Center nominated the Building Communities of Hope team for the award.

“The partnership between IHS and the Navajo Nation through this effort strengthens relationships and resources within communities, organizations and schools. The Navajo Nation pledges to work hard on behalf of Indian peoples together,” added Vice President Nez.

Because of this initiative, the Navajo Nation created crisis response teams located in Shiprock, New Mexico, Crownpoint, New Mexico, Fort Defiance, Arizona, and in Dilkon, Arizona. Tuba City, Arizona and Chinle, Arizona locations are being developed with support from the Navajo Department of Behavioral Health.

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