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Office of Tribal Government Relations


About VA’s Office of Tribal Government Relations (OTGR)

The OTGR team works to strengthen and build closer relations between the VA, tribal governments and other key federal, state, private and non-profit partners in an effort to effectively and respectfully serve Veterans across Indian Country. Read more...

Tribal Consultation

Image of a man and a woman looking at each otherThe Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) consults with tribal governments in order to facilitate tribal engagement and input in VA policies, programs and services that may affect Veterans living in Indian Country and tribal governments. Tribal Consultation is either formal, or informal in nature, with a focus on emphasizing the importance of establishing and sustaining enduring, trusting relationships necessary to serve our Nation’s heroes.

2016 Tribal Consultation Report

Tribal Consultation Report Cover

In 2016, VA initiated consultation with American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments on recognition of tribal organizations for representation of VA benefit claimants, the top three to five priorities for Veterans in Indian Country, and a proposed consolidation of non-VA care into a more standardized system under the Veterans Choice Program. This report presents tribal responses and policy background for each consultation topic. Download the report in PDF format.

See the Tribal Consultation page for more information.


Outreach, Communication & Training

Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Scott Blackburn visits Taos Pueblo

Arriving in a Blackhawk helicopter Friday afternoon April 21, 2017, the Interim Deputy Secretary for U.S. Veterans Affairs, Scott Blackburn, met Taos Pueblo Gov. Ruben A. Romero, tribal officials, and veterans from the area during an Intergovernmental Site Visit and Cultural Tour.

September–October 2017 Office of Tribal Government Relations Newsletter

Borne the Battle Podcast

In Episode 64: Benefits Breakdown, OTGR Director Stephanie Birdwell talks about how her office works with tribal governments, how these partnerships help deliver benefits to Native Veterans, and the nuances of these benefits as it relates to Native Veterans (such as VA home loan for property on tribal land).



VA Presumptive Campaign in Indian Country

This initiative is a nationwide outreach campaign focused on identifying and assisting Veterans across Indian Country who may have presumptive disabilities and Veterans who may have non-compensable disabilities (VA pension claims).

VA-IHS Partnership Values Voice of Native Veterans

On Wednesday, July 12, the Phoenix Indian Medical Center hosted a site visit and tour for local, regional, and national Veterans Affairs (VA) representatives. This visit reflects the ongoing relationship building between the Indian Health Service and VA. Both agencies shared information and identified opportunities to better partner to continue providing the best care possible for our American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) Veterans. Read the full article.

VHA Blog: National reimbursement agreement between VA and the Indian Health Service extended through 2019

Report on Enhancement of Collaboration Between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Indian Health Service

Tribal Health Program Reimbursement Agreements

Up-to-date and comprehensive information on this program can be found on the Reimbursement Agreement page.

Video: After war and tragedy, a Veteran learns to thrive

Brandon brought the war home with him. With help from VA, he’s turned his life around. Share his story to help other Veterans.

2015 VA/OTGR Executive Summary Report

Tribal color guard

VA’s Office of Tribal Government Relations (OTGR) has a special responsibility to oversee tribal consultation and support VA’s commitment to honor government-to-government relationships with tribes. OTGR works to engage tribes and strengthen VA’s ability to work with tribal governments by building trust, sharing information, and continuing to expand services to American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans. This report describes how VA engaged with Indian Country in 2015. Download the report in PDF format.

Navajo Code Talker Thomas Begay

Navajo Code Talker Thomas Begay

Earlier this year, The American Veteran had the opportunity to sit down Marine Corps Veteran Thomas Begay at his childhood home in New Mexico. The Battle of Iwo Jima Veteran spoke of his experiences joining the classified Navajo Code Talker program during World War II. Watch video


National Native American Veterans Memorial

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) has been charged by Congress with establishing a National Native American Veterans Memorial, to give “all Americans the opportunity to learn of the proud and courageous tradition of service of Native Americans in the Armed Forces of the United States.”

Kevin Gover, Director of the National Museum of the American Indian, gives a presentation on the National Native American Veterans Memorial on September 28, 2016.

Viist the National Native American Veterans Memorial website

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