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Stephanie Birdwell - Cherokee
NATIVE BRIEF: AIRWAY HEIGHTS, WASHINGTON - A meeting between Stephanie Birdwell, US Department of Veterans Affairs Director of Tribal Government Relations, and representatives of several Northwest Tribes will take place on Tuesday July 12 at the Northern Quest Resort & Casino, (owned by the Kalispel Tribe).
The meeting launches a dialogue about the needs and concerns tribal governments have about access to VA services and benefits for American Indian Veterans.
Birdwell, a member of the Cherokee Nation, was selected as the first director of the newly established VA Office of Tribal Government Relations to ensure that the more than 200,000 Veterans who are American Indians and Alaska Natives, and receive the VA benefits they have earned. Although VA has long provided benefits to Veterans in tribal lands, the new office will further strengthen and expand that relationship.
"In an effort to better serve the unique needs of American Indian Veterans, VA is making it a priority to participate in local, regional and national meetings," said Birdwell. "Military service among American Indians and Alaska Natives is an honorable tradition and we are committed to making sure these Veterans are able to access the benefits they so strongly deserve."
It is estimated that in the state of Washington, there are over 615,000 Veterans, many of whom are American Indians. Nationally, about 200,000 Veterans are represented by the 565 tribal governments officially recognized by the United States.
For further information visit the new VA Office of Tribal Government Relations »
posted July 12, 2011 6:30 am edt
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