Polis appoints Howard Richards Sr. to Colo. Board of Veterans Affairs

Photo Credit: Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum

Richards makes history as first Native American on state board 

In a historic move, Colorado Governor Jared Polis appoints Howard Richards Sr. to the Colorado Board of Veterans Affairs. Richards is a Vietnam veteran and former Chairman of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. He is the first Native American to serve on the Veteran’s Board. His historic appointment, Thursday, March 14, came ahead of Ute Day at the Capitol. Ute Day celebrates and honors the invaluable contributions that the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and Ute Mountain Tribe have made to the State of Colorado.  

“I am thrilled to appoint Howard Richards Sr. to the Colorado Board of Veterans Affairs. His decades of expertise including military service in Vietnam will make him a great addition to the Board and will benefit the millions of Veterans who call Colorado home. Mr. Richards will be the first tribal member to serve on this board, and we are grateful for his willingness to serve our great state,” said Governor Jared Polis.  

“As a tribal member of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, we know that Mr. Richards will bring a valuable perspective to Colorado’s Board of Veteran Affairs,” said Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera, Chair of the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs. “With the disproportionate number of American Indian and Alaska Natives serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, we know just how important it is to ensure Native voices are represented when it comes to making decisions about Colorado’s military and Veterans community.” 

“The Southern Ute Indian Tribe is filled with immense pride to congratulate former Chairman and Vietnam Veteran, Mr. Howard Richards Sr., for his appointment by Governor Polis to the Colorado Board of Veterans Affairs. This appointment reflects his exemplary dedication to our nation’s heroes. He will undoubtedly bring valuable insights and perspectives to better support those who served our Nation and Tribe. We are forever grateful for their service and sacrifice,” said Southern Ute Indian Tribal Chairman Melvin J. Baker. 

Richards was raised on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation and served in the United States Army from June 1968 until he was honorably discharged in June 1971. During his time in the military, he served with the 1st Battalion, 84th Artillery, 9th Infantry Division in the Republic of South Vietnam before being transferred to Oahu, Hawaii and then Fort Sill, Okla. Richards currently serves as Commander of the Southern Ute Veterans Association which he co-founded in 1986. 

“We are honored to hear Howard Richards was appointed to the Colorado State Veterans Affairs board,” Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Chairman, Manuel Heart said on behalf of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Council and the Tribe. 

 “Mr. Richards has done an excellent job for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s Veterans committee. He will represent the State of Colorado well. He is also former Chairman and Councilman of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. We are in full support of his appointment.” said Heart.  

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