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.

Share this story

Published on Oct. 21, 2011

Estimated reading time is 1.4 min.

Views to date: 52

One Comment

  1. Paula Williams October 21, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    I’ve worked with the Ketchikan tribal leaders and health care representatives in the past. The tribal leaders are very progressive in their thinking and their actions. Is it possible to obtain a copy of the MOU that was signed?

Comments are closed.

More Stories

  • During Sickle Cell Awareness Month in September, the American Red Cross emphasizes the importance of a diverse blood supply to help meet the needs of those with sickle cell disease – the most common inherited blood disorder in the U.S.

  • CaringBridge, a free online tool to communicate health news to family and friends, is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

  • Shahpur Pazhman flew Black Hawk missions in 27 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, resupplying and relocating Afghan ground forces and evacuating casualties to safety. Thanks to Bridge My Return, he's back in the air.