U.S. Sen. Mark Begich is welcoming news that a report he requested has been released on the progress of the Department of Veterans Affairs outreach to Alaska tribes in their effort to encourage cooperation and share resources between the VA and Indian Health Service under a Memorandum of Understanding agreed to last May.
Begich called this one of his main goals since coming to the Senate, to ensure that every Alaska veteran has access to the health care they need and that they have it close to home. Begich said ‘We made history last May when the VA and Alaska Native tribal health care programs came together to make this a reality, but like every program, this agreement needs oversight to make sure that we are working effectively with our tribes.”
Begich has long pressed the VA to step up their outreach to tribes in Alaska. The agreement allows Alaska Native veterans to receive health care services in tribal clinics in various parts of Alaska and not have to travel to Anchorage or Seattle for care. Under the agreement, the VA will reimburse the participating health care entities for the services.
This report shows that we have much room for improvement when it comes to outreach and collaboration with Alaska Native groups and Begich will be pressing the VA in the coming weeks to implement the recommendations made in this report.