I recently had the opportunity to witness first-hand the close partnering that is occurring between VA and Alaska Natives—I saw first-hand the relationships we were building.
VA Alaska Healthcare System and the Ketchikan Indian Community Tribal Health Clinic signed the first Memorandum of Understanding on September 29, 2011 between VA Alaska and an Alaska Native Tribe to enhance communication, cooperation and resource sharing between the agencies. This relationship building is part of President Obama’s signed Memorandum on Tribal Consultation pronouncing tribal consultations “a critical ingredient of a sound and productive Federal-Tribal relationship.” These efforts are further guided by the VA Tribal Consultation Policy signed by Secretary Shinseki in February 2011.
VA Alaska Healthcare System also kicked off the National 13th Alaska VA/IHS/Tribal Workgroup on September 30, 2011, as part of the 2010 MOU signed between VA and Indian Health Service which main purpose between the two agencies is to provide increased coordination, collaboration and resource-sharing to improve the health status of American Indians and Alaska Natives.
Susan Yeager, VA Alaska Rural Health Program Coordinator has been instrumental in building these relationships. Ms. Yeager announced that VA Alaska was successful in obtaining funding in 2012 from the VA Office of Rural Health for outreach and VA enrollment to Alaska Native Veterans.
VA OTGR funded a contract to assist VA Alaska with an outreach tool kit to improve Alaska Native Veteran outreach.
Learn more about VA’s Office of Tribal Governmental Relations.
Terry Bentley is a Tribal Government Relations Specialist for the Western Region and an enrolled tribal member of the Karuk Tribe of California. Ms. Bentley is a 25-year career VHA employee and has worked at the VHA facilities in Roseburg and Portland, Oregon.