More benefits application support available for Native American veterans

Veterans who are members of the Navajo Nation now have more support options to pursue VA benefit claims.

As of May 2, the Navajo Nation Veterans Administration is the first tribal organization recognized by VA to help Native American veterans with their claims for benefits. The application for recognition was initiated through the VA Tribal Representation Expansion Project aimed at expanding access to competent and qualified representation for Native American veterans.

Veterans who live on tribal lands and within tribal communities deserve access to representation regarding their VA benefit claims like any other veteran. The Tribal Representation Expansion Project will improve Native American representation while honoring tribal sovereignty by promoting pathways to certification within tribal communities.

Department of Defense statistics show that Native Americans serve in the military among the highest per capita rates compared to other ethnic groups. US Census Bureau data from 2017 shows there are more than 140,000 living Native American veterans. Additionally, Native American veterans are more likely to have a service-related disability than veterans of other races (30% to 23% respectively). Despite high enlistment and service connection rates, a lower percentage of Native American veterans, 41.6%, used at least one VA benefit or service, compared to 52.7% of veterans of other races. . This suggests that many Native Americans may not be aware that they are eligible for a wide variety of benefits and services available to all U.S. Army veterans.

VA established the Tribal Representation Expansion Project to expand access to comprehensive claims services for Native American veterans to ensure they pursue the benefits to which they are entitled. Through T-REP, VA aims to increase options for Native American veterans to receive assistance with their benefit claims when they present to VBA and the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.

For more information on VA benefits, you may be entitled to go to Benefits AZ. To learn more about specific VA benefits for Native American veterans, visit the Native American Veterans page. For tribal governments interested in participating in the T-REP, email [email protected]

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