Sinema-Backed Bill Helps Native American Veterans Get Benefits They’ve Earned

Mar 22, 2019

WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema joined Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) in supporting the bipartisan VA Tribal Advisory Act to improve VA outreach and services for Native American veterans. 
“Arizona’s Native American veterans face unique challenges accessing VA services. Our bill strengthens the voices of our Native veterans and ensures they receive the benefits they’ve earned,” said Sinema, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
“We thank Senator Sinema for introducing this bill that has the potential to help our Native-American veterans. For too long their sacrifices and particular needs have been ignored, and your bill will shed light on their concerns. We have 21 autonomous Native-American nations in Arizona each with particular cultural and social economic situations, on each of these nations there are U.S. military veterans who warrant assessment and pro-active treatment if necessary. I applaud the direction presented by your bill using other Native-American veterans to become the point men and women to carry out this task,” said Jim Covarrubias, Minority Affairs Representative for the Vietnam Veterans of America Arizona State Council. 
The VA Tribal Advisory Act establishes a VA Advisory Committee on Tribal and Indian Affairs. The Committee will facilitate communication and understanding between the VA and Tribal governments to better address the challenges Native American veterans face when accessing VA services. The Committee will be comprised of a representative from each of the 12 regions of the Indian Health Service and three at-large Native American members. At least half of the Committee members must be veterans. The Committee will facilitate communication between the VA and Tribal governments, meet face-to-face with the VA Secretary to provide guidance on Tribal and Indian Affairs, and report to Congress its recommendations for legislation to improve Native American veterans’ access to VA health care and benefits.