Veterans’ Center sought to be established on Saipan

Posted on Nov 30 2022

Marie Salas-Igitol, executive officer for the CNMI Office of Veterans Affairs, was the guest speaker at the Rotary Club of Saipan’s meeting yesterday at the Hyatt Regency Saipan. She is joined by club officials and fellow Rotarians in this picture. (LEIGH GASES)

Among the several plans for veterans in the CNMI is the establishment of a “Veterans for Veterans Center” in Saipan—preferably somewhere centralized, according to Marie Salas-Igitol, executive officer for the CNMI Office of Veterans Affairs.

Appearing before the Rotary Club of Saipan as its guest speaker during the club’s meeting yesterday at the Hyatt Regency Saipan, Salas-Igitol said the center, which could also be near the Office of Veterans Affairs, “would act as a recreational place for our veterans to meet and speak with other veterans; a safe haven for them to come together and hear each other’s stories.”

Salas-Igitol noted that there are no places for the over 1,700 veterans on the island to gather, and a center where they can meet has always been highly requested by veterans since she assumed her role in the office.

Salas-Igitol said her role is to “serve those who have served, and I do my utmost best to serve our veterans and their beneficiaries, and to make sure their voices and concerns are heard. It’s beyond me and the office, it’s about all those who call the CNMI home and who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom.”

Another of her plans for veterans is to have “Dinner with Veterans” or a “Family Fun Day” during the summer when children are out of school. With that, Salas-Igitol said, this allows the community to remember veterans not only on Veterans Day or Memorial Day. “Let us not just recognize them…let’s have something for and with them,” she added.

Even with services provided by Willie Peterson, who helps veterans with claims benefits; Dr. Norma S. Ada, of the VA Authorized Outreach Clinic; and Ruth Coleman, who assists with health benefits, Salas-Igitol said there is a need for more resources and counselors to assist veterans.

She highlighted the need for an updated OVA website to disseminate important information to veterans; and a database to keep data systematic so that information about veterans can be easily managed, accessed and updated.

November was proclaimed as Veterans and Military Families Month, and the week of November 4-11 as CNMI Veterans Week.

Leigh Gases
Leigh Gases is the youngest reporter of Saipan Tribune and primarily covers community related news, but she also handles the utilities, education, municipal, and veterans beats. Contact Leigh at
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