At Running Strong for American Indian Youth® veterans, especially Native American veterans who serve in the military in higher rates of any ethnic group, have a special place in our hearts.
That’s why it is particularly gratifying when we can provide veterans on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation with our most precious resource — clean running water.
On Pine Ridge the families of Mervin Comes Flying and Edwin Brewer waited for six years for the Indian Health Services and the Oglala Sioux Tribe to connect them to the main water service line that ran right in front of their homes.
If it were not for the supporters of Running Strong they would still be waiting today.
Both men, Vietnam War veterans who served their country with distinction and honor, were among the first to benefit from Running Strong’s program of stepping in when the IHS and the Oglala Sioux tribe could not by connecting their homes to that water line.
Edwin told us that his family had had water from the Oglala Sioux Rural Water Supply System since the 1990s until recently when his freezerless riser gave out, saying “it started to leak bad.”
This all happened on a Saturday before a three-day holiday weekend, but our contractor, Badlands Enterprises, came out to install a new one through an emergency work order and repair the water leak, said Edwin after learning about Running Strong’s water line connection program through our food box distribution program.
“They were very grateful for this, and the children especially,” we were told by Running Strong water coordinator Ken Lone Elk. “They told us how thankful they were now that they can have all the water they need.”