National And Regional Initiatives
Cheyenne River Lakota Nation Partnership
Standing Rock offered an opportunity for veterans to work side by side, indigenous veterans next to nonindigenous. Over the course of last winter, our founders and volunteers gained interest from Cheyenne River Lakota Nation leadership and were invited to assist with specific projects.
Trust with tribal leaders is building because – unlike so many others before us – we have made good on our commitments to stay, to respect the authority of the tribe, and to work to improve the lives of its members.
VSC is carrying out our mission through Operation Eagle in Eagle Butte, South Dakota. We have had over 1 million dollars in “in kind” donations in the form of human capital and donated materials to complete projects within the community.
Volunteer veterans through VSC have refurbished a Youth Center in Cherry Creek, cleared burned out land lots so that new housing can be built, started a youth sports program on the reservation to provide better choices to children and youth, and assisted in building a strong community of support for Native veterans nationally, among many other projects.
Promise Ranch and the Solar Energy Training Program
In October 2017, VSC was offered the opportunity to steward and restore a 29-acre property in Promise, South Dakota.
In partnership with the Cheyenne River Lakota Nation, the tribal veterans’ organization, and several other strategic partners, VSC intends to use this asset for economic development and programs that improve economic, environmental, educational, social and health outcomes for communities in which veterans live – starting with the Cheyenne River Reservation, where 47% of the adult population are veterans of the United States Armed Forces.
Beginning in the summer of 2018, VSC will launch a solar energy training program that will result in four important outcomes:
- Veterans – including indigenous veterans – will become certified solar installers in their home communities across the country
- Indigenous men and women will become certified solar installers, using structures throughout the Cheyenne River Reservation to practice installation, starting with Promise Ranch
- A pilot group of “train the trainers” will complete a series of educational and practice-based requirements to continue to offer solar training for years to come
- All trainees will earn livable wages in the high demand field of solar energy