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The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs (ODVA) was honored to join the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) and multiple tribes in hosting the Tribal Veteran Advocate Conference this week, offering training about VA benefits and programs aimed at improving services to tribal veterans and their families.
The event marked the first time the two states’ veterans’ affairs departments partnered together with multiple host tribes to better serve tribal veterans. The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde served as Oregon’s host tribal nation, while the Yakama Nation did so on behalf of Washington state’s tribal veterans.
The two-day virtual conference included veteran benefit topics about specially adapted housing grants, advance care planning, Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC), Native Veterans Spouses & Dependency, and shared how ODVA and WDVA are working to support tribal veterans through collaborative agreements with Native American tribes in each state. A record 168 attendees across 25 states participated in this important event.
In remarks to close the conference’s first day, ODVA Director Kelly Fitzpatrick noted there has never been a more important time to reinforce the nation’s commitment to serving tribal veterans, who comprise between 1-2% of each state’s total veteran population, but who, historically, serve at higher rates per capita than any other ethnic or minority group.
“As we have experienced the global health crisis and the secondary effects of the pandemic over the past two-plus years, we have also seen that the effects of those crises have disproportionately impacted Native Americans,” Director Fitzpatrick said. “This fact makes it even more imperative that tribal veterans access their earned veterans benefits. Tribal veteran advocates are key to the success of this effort.”
This event would not have been possible without the support and partnership of the WDVA, Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Yakama Nation, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Tribal Government Relations, Pacific District, and tribal and local veteran service officers serving tribal veterans in both states.
To locate a tribal veteran service office or tribal veteran advocacy support in Oregon, please visit ODVA’s website at www.oregon.gov/odva/Services/Pages/Tribal-Veteran-Services.aspx.