In October 2004 an entirely Native American Veterans Organization, the
National Native American Veterans Association, began operations. The Association,
headquartered in Oklahoma City, OK, is the first National Organization which has
structured itself to work with both individual Native Veterans and Tribal
Entities on a National basis.
It is the Association’s belief that every veteran deserves representation that understands and respect their unique needs and feels that Native American Veterans have long been overlooked in this regard.
It hopes to fill the void by representing Native American Veterans with an emphasis on Native American Tradition and Heritage.
Native Americans have historically provided more military personnel per
capita than any other sector of the American population.
On the other hand, Native Americans have utilized the benefits and entitlements earned through military service less than any other population sector. This is the underlying reason for the formation of the Association.
The Association wants to ensure that every Native American Veteran and Active Duty military member is aware of the entitlements they have earned, and how to apply for and receive these entitlements.
One such program, The VA Direct Loan Housing Program for Native American
Veterans, provides direct loans from the VA for qualifying Native American
Veterans up to $80,000.00 for housing on Tribal Trust Properties and Reservation
Lands. The Association wants to educate Tribal Entities and Leaders how to
integrate VA benefits and programs like this with their own Tribal Programs, which
could save the Tribes millions of dollars in Programming funds.
Other VA benefits include medical care, service connected injury
compensation, non-service connected pensions, and education and retraining benefits. Many
of the programs offered by the VA may be integrated with existing Tribal
programs. Proper integration and use of the benefits earned by the Native American
Veterans would reduce the amount of Program funds being spent by Tribes to
provide the same services to Tribal members who qualify for VA benefits.
While still a new organization, the Native American Veterans association
currently has over one hundred members residing in twenty-two states, and from
eighteen different Tribes. Membership is open to all honorably discharged Native
American Veterans or current members of the Armed Forces. Auxiliary
memberships are available for family members of Veterans or deceased Veterans, and a
very limited number of Associate memberships for Non-Veterans are available.
Aia Achukma (Go with Peace)
Thomas M Berry
National Native American Veterans Association