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Construction continues on home for family of deceased veteran

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Project part of Innovative Readiness Training

After multiple stalls due to criteria challenges and the COVID-19 pandemic putting a pause on many parts of life, the Malone family is a step closer to having a home finished for them free of charge.

The home comes courtesy of a collaboration between the Southwest Indian Foundation and the U.S. Department of Defense’s Innovative Readiness Training. The IRT is a military training opportunity that provides joint training opportunities to increase deployment readiness while also providing key services including healthcare, construction, transportation, and cybersecurity for American communities.

 

COLLABORATION BACKGROUND

As part of the 1992 “Rebuild America” Initiative, the IRT was authorized under Title 10 U.S. Code 2012 for the Department of Defense to provide services and support for eligible organizations and activities.

The structure building section does not take jobs away from civilian contractors, but it does provide serving members the opportunity to learn how to do proper construction beyond contingency work out in the field. By building public facilities like a school or hospital, or homes for civilians, the members will gain vital experience in building to code.

The first new homes of the Southwest Indian Foundation Housing Project were built at the Air Force Academy in 1998. The project has expanded in the past 10 years to fulfill the original goal of providing housing for Navajo Nation residents amid a prolonged housing shortage that former Navajo Nation President Kelsey Begay stated was about 20,000 units short of a sufficient number.

Since SWIF first began work with military, tribal, and government agencies on this initiative in 1997, they have since served as “gatekeepers” to help the appropriate engineers, carpenters, and technicians work on housing and other necessary projects for the region.

 

PROJECT DETAILS

The original project was awarded to World War II Veteran Richard Malone, who died in 2018 at 100 years old after the groundbreaking started. In total, seven members of the Malone family have served in the military, with four being Navajo Code Talkers during WWII.

Lieutenant Commander Steven Vargas, Civil Engineer Corps of the United States Navy, told the Sun about the work being done on the Malone home.

“In recent years, the military has been limited to building in the warehouse on Day Street due to COVID, which is not the environment Seabees are used to. The Navy Seabees [Construction Battalion] has the lead on this year’s project which is built on site, led by Navy Construction Battalion 25,” Vargas explained. “We are making great progress and will have a 1,136 square feet, 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom single family home built for the Malone family by the end of June.”

Vargas added that the Navy has 18 Seabee working the week of May 27 with support from five Air Force members of the 567th Civil Engineer Squadron from North Carolina.

A memo from SWIF announced a new building by the Navajo Housing Authority in Gallup where they will be able to work on home construction for homeless people full-time around the year. These homes will be built and transported to predetermined locations within a 50-mile radius of Gallup.

The estimated cost to build one of these homes is about $65,000, which includes materials, supplies, transportation, and labor associated with each house. Donors are a key part of allowing the project to continue to run.

More information can be found on the Southwest Indian Foundation Website at https://www.southwestindian.com/.

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