Bill Proposes Advisory Committee for Native American Vets
Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) have introduced legislation to establish an Advisory Committee to facilitate communication and understanding between the Department of Veterans Affairs and tribal governments. The bipartisan bill, which proposes establishing a VA Advisory Committee on Tribal and Indian Affairs, was introduced last week. If established, the Committee would help address barriers Native American veterans face when accessing VA outreach, healthcare, and other benefits. The Advisory Committee would consist of 15 members, each representing the 12 regions of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, including three at-large members and up to four veterans. Committee members would meet with the VA Secretary to provide guidance on affairs and report recommendations to Congress for legislation to improve access to healthcare and benefits for Native American veterans. "This bill is a step forward for tribes to have a larger voice in advising the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to help our Native American veterans," tribal President Russell Begaye said. “Veterans hold a place of honor in Native communities,” said Jefferson Keel, NCAI President and retired Army Officer. “Too often our Native Veterans do not benefit from the programs and resources they earned through their service to this country. The Department of Veterans Affairs Tribal Advisory Committee Act would ensure federal policy makers are considering and working to address the unique challenges that make accessing programs difficult for Veterans in our communities.” More here.