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VA Outlines New Plans For Indian Health Services

 WASHINGTON - Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and The
Indian Health Service (IHS) have signed a memorandum of understanding
(MOU) which will help both agencies improve the health status of
American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) Veterans. The IHS-VA MOU
outlines a new plan for enhanced coordination, collaboration, and
resource-sharing that will draw on the strengths and expertise of the
two agencies. 

"This memorandum of understanding is a renewal of the important
partnership between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Indian
Health Service. It represents VA's commitment to American Indian and
Alaska Native Veterans through associations with the Indian Health
Service and tribal facilities throughout the nation," said Secretary of
Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "The partnership further expands VA's
capability to serve those Veterans within their communities and provides
increased access for Veterans in extremely rural areas."

The MOU will facilitate greater innovation at the local level between
IHS, tribal, urban, and VA programs. While recognizing the importance of
a coordinated effort on a national scope, the MOU also emphasizes the
necessity and importance of tribal consultation for local adaptation.
This will be accomplished by increasing available services, improving
the delivery of care by sharing programs, developing new models of care
using the latest technologies, providing culturally competent care for
beneficiaries, and increasing the quality of care though training and
workforce development.

"This MOU between the IHS and VA provides a firm foundation for
collaboration to meet the needs of the AI/AN Veterans who have served
our nation," said Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, IHS director. "It is an
important step forward in our work to better serve all American Indian
and Alaska Native people."

In addition, this agreement will address joint emergency, disaster, and
pandemic preparedness and response planning. Implementation Work Groups
will be established to address each of the main goals outlined in the
MOU. An annual progress report will be produced the VA and the IHS. The
VA and the IHS are now organizing workgroups to make progress on
implementing elements in the MOU as soon as possible to benefit
veterans.

The MOU expands the partnership initially established through a previous
MOU in 2003 that improved communication between the agencies and tribal
governments, and developed strategies for sharing information, services,
and information technology. 


STORY TAGS: NATIVE AMERICAN, INDIAN, NATIVES, MINORITY, CIVIL RIGHTS, DISCRIMINATION, RACISM, DIVERSITY, RACIAL EQUALITY, BIAS, EQUALITY

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