Juanita J. Mullen, a member of the Seneca Nation, now serves as the liaison for American Indians for the U.S. Veterans Administration.
"Of the 23.7 million veterans in the United States, 169,000 are Native American," said Mullen
"I joined in 1980," she
said, "and served for five years in Italy, and other countries in Europe, learning several languages, and retired in 2000."
Mullen earned both a bachelors and a masters during her tenure in the military, stressing that she placed an extra effort on finishing her education during her service.
Living away from her
homeland and serving in foreign countries, Mullen
sacrificed, and missed out being with family and tribal members.
"When I left home my cousins were just babies," she
"When I returned they were all grown.
I know what it's like to be away for so long.
There are Natives who have grown up and never experienced the reservation life."
Mullen previously served with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and as a self-determination specialist for the Eastern Regional Office.