Hope for Life Day (September 9, 2019) Toolkit

Background

On June 30, 2015, the National Council of Urban Indian Health (NCUIH), in partnership with the Action Alliance’s AI/AN Task Force, put forward a resolution at the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) Mid-Year Conference in St. Paul, Minnesota. The resolution, “Creating an Annual National American Indian and Alaska Native Hope for Life Day (Suicide Prevention Awareness Day),” was the outcome of a one-year collaborative effort by task force members.

To help advance the Action Alliance’s priority to change the public conversation about suicide, the AI/AN Task Force developed National American Indian/Alaska Native Hope for Life Day, which coincides with World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10. They also developed the National Hope for Life Day Toolkit to help community leaders, grassroots organizers, and health care professionals working in AI/AN communities implement a community-wide Hope for Life Day.

The purpose of the resolution was to request a U.S. presidential proclamation that a National AI/AN Hope for Life Day would be held each year on September 10, which is during Suicide Prevention Week. The resolution encourages collaboration with federal agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services, Indian Health Service, Bureau of Indian Education and Bureau of Indian Affairs within the Department of Interior, and Department of Education. It also encourages collaboration with national Indian and non-Indian organizations and other groups. NCAI’s Health Subcommittee and Human Resources Committee deliberated, amended, and passed the resolution.

Toolkit

Fact Sheets and Data

Tips and Ideas for Hope for Life Day Activities

Ready to Use Templates

Resources

Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC)

SPRC’s “American Indian/Alaska Native Settings” webpage provides access to a wide range of suicide prevention resources for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

The Tribal Training and Technical Assistance Center offers training and technical assistance on mental and substance use disorders, suicide prevention, and mental health promotion for AI/AN communities. To Live to See the Great Day That Dawns is a guide to help AI/AN people develop effective and culturally appropriate suicide prevention programs. “American Indian and Alaska Native: Tribal Affairs” is a webpage with links to many national resources on behavioral health, including suicide, that are helpful for AI/AN people.

Indian Health Service

IHS’ “Suicide Prevention and Care Program” webpage provides information and links to resources on suicide prevention and care for Native people.

Native Connections

Native Connections is a five-year grant program that helps AI/AN communities identify and address the behavioral health needs of Native youth.

We R NativeWe R Native is a website for and by Native youth on many health and mental health issues, including suicide. It includes both information and personal stories from Native youth.

Tribal Health: Reaching out InVolves Everyone

Tribal Health: Reaching out InVolves Everyone (THRIVE) is a suicide prevention project of the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board with a website that has resources for Native people throughout the U.S.

One Sky Center

One Sky Center is a national resource center with a focus on improving prevention and treatment of mental health and substance abuse problems and services among Native people.

What does it mean for be an Indigi-Wellness Champion? Peer-to-Peer Support

My name is Shoshanna “Mah-Gah-Wah-See” Johnson and I’m a member of the Big Jim Band from the Absentee-Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma. Throughout my time on the Inaugural Youth Advisory Council, I’ve learned a lot about the importance of peer-to-peer support. Most of my friends and family members know that I work in suicide prevention so I’m very open to talking about mental health. It’s created a safe space for some of my friends to come to me for support whether it’s just being an open ear or helping them find resources specific to their needs. I’ve learned that it’s important for youth to know that being resilient does not mean that you still won’t face times in your life when you will have to deal with stress.

If someone you know is thinking about suicide, help them connect to resources. Help them build a support system so that they have others to reach out to for help, whether it’s 1-800-273- TALK (8255), family, friends, teachers, coaches or a counselor. Listen to their reasons for feeling hopeless and in pain. Listen without judgment and with compassion and empathy.

As Indigenous people, we owe it to our ancestors to come and work together because that intertribal connectedness is medicine in this day in age. That’s how our traditions will stay alive and how our people can stay resilient. This is what it means for me to be an Indigi-Wellness Warrior. If you are looking be a part of this national network and learn how to become an Indigi-Wellness Champion National Social Contest and Campaign that launches on September 10th. How do you get involved? It’s very easy.

      1. Create a post and share photos of life, family, friends, hobbies as examples of ways you keep your Indigenous identity strong and what have you been doing to promote health and wellness in your community over the past 4 years.
      2. Answer 2 questions in your post: “What does it mean to be an Indigi-Wellness Champion?” and “How do you stay resilient in your community”?
      3. Ask other Native youth to join the movement in your post and ask them “What does it mean for you to be an Indigi-Wellness Champion?” and “How do you stay resilient in your community”?
      4. Share on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram. Make sure that your social media post settings are public for NCUIH’s office to view your submission.
        • *Always get parental permission before posting any content online (if under 18 years old)
        • Include the Youth Council Campaign Logo & hashtags #ThisIsNative #CultureIsPrevention #NCUIH #NCUIHYC18
        • Create your post by using the YC’s two braided image representing both campaigns to be provided soon.
      5. Submit your post at https://www.ncuih.org/indigiwellness before 11:59 PM September 20, 2019.

So I ask you how do you stay resilient in your community”?

Ne ah way!

Statement from National Council of Urban Indian Health Executive Director Francys Crevier

Washington, DC (August 16, 2019) – Today, the National Council of Urban Indian Health Executive Director Francys Crevier released the following statement:

“The National Council of Urban Indian Health (NCUIH) has long encouraged Members of Congress and the Administration to honor the United States trust obligations to Indian Country including American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) on and off reservations. For over 20 years, we have advocated for proper funding of IHS, which includes Urban Indian health care, the overall betterment of Indian Country and the rights of Sovereign nations.  NCUIH agrees with the Broken Promises report that emphasizes the critical role of the 41 Title V Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs) funded by Indian Health Service that provide “the only affordable, culturally competent health care services available in urban areas. “ The report accurately states that 70% of AI/ANs live in urban areas and ‘many of the recurring health problems faced by Native Americans in general are more acute for those living in urban areas.’ We look forward to working with the 116th Congress on incorporating suggestions on how best to provide full, guaranteed funding to IHS for Tribes and UIOs including outlining steps to ensure UIOs are able to do their critical work.”

More Information

ICWA Held Constitutional in a Big Win for Indian Country

Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) constitutional, overturning a decision from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. Last October, a U.S. district judge declared ICWA unconstitutional under the Fifth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, arguing that it creates a separate set of practices for a racial group. The Brackeen v. Bernhardt case was appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, where NCUIH joined nearly 400 Tribes and Indian organizations in filing an amicus curiae brief in support of ICWA’s constitutionality.

In its opinion filed today, the Court rendered judgment in favor of the defendants (the federal government and four tribes) on all claims. The Court held that ICWA is constitutional because: it is based on a political classification that is rationally related to the fulfillment of Congress’s unique obligation toward Indians; ICWA preempts conflicting state laws and does not violate the Tenth Amendment anticommandeering doctrine; and ICWA does not violate the nondelegation doctrine. The court also concluded that a Bureau of Indian Affairs Final Rule implementing ICWA is valid and constitutional.

Tribal leaders, Indian organizations, child advocates, and attorneys specializing in Indian law had been concerned that if the Texas ruling were upheld, it could have opened the door to constitutional challenges of other federal laws based on the special political relationship between AI/ANs and the U.S. government – including laws and regulations affecting health care, housing, criminal jurisdiction, gaming, and the environment.

Recent federal actions related to Medicaid and Native American Housing Block Grants have also signaled that a redefinition of “Indian” as racial could be used to take away benefits that fulfill the federal government’s trust responsibility to American Indian and Alaska Native people.

You can view the opinion here.

PRESS RELEASE: ICWA Held Constitutional in Big Win for Indian Country

NCUIH Previously Filed Amicus Curiae Brief in Support of ICWA

Washington, DC (August 12, 2019) — On Friday, August 9, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) constitutional, overturning an October 2018 decision from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas that held ICWA unconstitutional under the Fifth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, declaring that it creates a separate set of practices for a racial group. The Brackeen v. Bernhardt case was appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, where NCUIH joined nearly 400 Tribes and Indian organizations in filing an amicus curiae brief in support of ICWA’s constitutionality.

“All children and families thrive when kept together. That is why the United States Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act over 40 years ago as part of the federal government’s trust obligation owed to Indian Country. The decision to uphold ICWA is a win for all of Indian Country. We are grateful for the leaders in Congress who also filed a joint bicameral, bipartisan amicus brief in defense of ICWA  U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) along with U.S. Representatives Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Don Bacon (R-Neb.), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Tom Cole (R-Okla.), and Don Young (R-Alaska),” said NCUIH Executive Director Francys Crevier.

In its opinion, the Court rendered judgment in favor of the defendants (the federal government and four tribes) on all claims. The Court held that ICWA is constitutional because: it is based on a political classification that is rationally related to the fulfillment of Congress’s unique obligation toward Indians; ICWA preempts conflicting state laws and does not violate the Tenth Amendment anti-commandeering doctrine (the doctrine that prohibits the federal government from commandeering state governments or requiring states or state officials to adopt or enforce federal law); and ICWA does not violate the nondelegation doctrine (the principle that Congress cannot delegate its legislative powers to other entities). The court also concluded that a Bureau of Indian Affairs Final Rule implementing ICWA is valid and constitutional.

Tribal leaders, Indian organizations, child advocates, and attorneys specializing in Indian law had been concerned that if the Texas ruling were upheld, it could have opened the door to constitutional challenges of other federal laws based on the special political relationship between American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) and the U.S. government – including laws and regulations affecting health care, housing, criminal jurisdiction, gaming, and the environment.

NCUIH Youth Council: Meet Czarina Campos

Halito!

My name is Czarina Campos, and I am a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. I graduated from Arizona State University, and now work with the Indian Health Service. I have been an Urban American Indian my whole life, and super excited to be a part of the National Council of Urban Indian Health’s Youth Council for 2019-2020. I am looking forward to collaborating with the inaugural youth council on their campaign, as well as working with this year’s council members to continue helping other AI/AN youth.

I hope that by being on this council, I can show others how important it is to create and maintain a native network with friends, mentors and role-models, and staying connecting. It was hard for me to fully appreciate my culture being an urban Native American, and always being far away from my extended family back in Oklahoma, but then I see what my fellow native peers are accomplishing and their achievements inspire me to continue to give back and help future generations, and to become a role model for AI/AN communities.

With that being said, I want to encourage all AI/AN youth to attend the Inaugural Youth Council’s first event – a Native Youth Convening. This convening will introduce campaigns that were designed by native youth, and most importantly teach native youth on how to become an Indigi-Wellness Champion. Please sign-up at https://www.ncuih.org/youth-convening and join us on Tuesday, August 6th, 2019 from 3:00 PM- 5:00PM EST.

Yakoke!

UIO Call to Action Toolkit: Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act

Call to Action: Ask Congress to Authorize the VA to Reimburse UIOs for Health Care

Representative Ro Khanna and Senator Tom Udall, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, introduced the Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act, a bill to improve health care access for Native American Veterans by providing Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) coverage for care that Native American Veterans receive at urban Indian health centers.  This legislation would include “urban Indian organizations” in the statute requiring the VA to reimburse Indian Health Service (IHS) and Tribal health facilities for services they provide to native veterans. To ensure that the Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act receives as much support as possible, we encourage you to contact your Member of Congress and request that they sign on as a cosponsor of this bill (if they have not already).

Write to Your House Member

Please use the following text below as a template to call or email to your Representatives. You should call and email your representative; you can find your representative here.

Dear Representative [ ],

On behalf of [program] and the communities we serve, we respectfully request you sign on as a cosponsor to the Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act recently introduced by Representative Ro Khanna and Senator Udall.  This bill is a critical language fix that would include “urban Indian organizations” in the statute requiring the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to reimburse Indian Health Service (IHS) and Tribal health facilities for services they provide to native veterans.

Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs) are an integral part of the American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) health care delivery system. However, due to an oversight in legislation UIOs are the only part of the IHS Indian/Tribal/Urban (I/T/U) system that do not receive reimbursement under the VA-IHS MOU reimbursement agreement. However, UIOs were created by Congress as a response to Tribes that wanted to ensure their members would receive quality health care off of reservations as part of the trust obligation.

The Department of Veterans Administration has stated that it cannot address the issue on its own, and that only Congress has the authority to correct this oversight. The Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act of 2019 would ensure that all three branches of the I/T/U system receive reimbursement for health care services delivered to AI/AN veterans.   At [Your Program] we offer [services you provide]. With reimbursement under the VA-IHS MOU reimbursement agreement we could [expand services/hire additional staff/etc].  We hope you will become a cosponsor of the Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act and show your support for the health of urban AI/AN Veterans.

For the sake of the health of American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans and the fulfillment of the U.S. trust obligation,  we request your support of this simple language fix. To sign on, please contact Mr. Will McKelvey (Will.Mckelvey@mail.house.gov ) 202-225-2631 from Congressman Ro Khanna’s office.

Sincerely, [Executive Director/CEO]

Write to Your Senator

Please use the following text below as a template to call or email to your Senators.  You can find your Senators here.

Dear Senator [ ],

On behalf of [program] and the communities we serve, we respectfully request you sign on as a cosponsor to the Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act (S.2365) recently introduced by Senator Udall and Representative Ro Khanna.  This bill is a critical language fix that would include “urban Indian organizations” in the statute requiring the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to reimburse Indian Health Service (IHS) and Tribal health facilities for services they provide to native veterans.

Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs) are an integral part of the American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) health care delivery system. However, due to an oversight in legislation UIOs are the only part of the IHS Indian/Tribal/Urban (I/T/U) system that do not receive reimbursement under the VA-IHS MOU reimbursement agreement. However, UIOs were created by Congress as a response to Tribes that wanted to ensure their members would receive quality health care off of reservations as part of the trust obligation.

The Department of Veterans Administration has stated that it cannot address the issue on its own, and that only Congress has the authority to correct this oversight. The Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act of 2019 would ensure that all three branches of the I/T/U system receive reimbursement for health care services delivered to AI/AN veterans.

At [Your Program] we offer [services you provide]. With reimbursement under the VA-IHS MOU reimbursement agreement we could [expand services/hire additional staff/etc].  We hope you will become a cosponsor of the Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act and show your support for the health of urban AI/AN Veterans.

For the sake of the health of American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans and the fulfillment of the U.S. trust obligation, we request your support of this simple language fix. To sign on, please contact Ms. Kim Moxley (Kim_Moxley@indian.senate.gov ) 202-224-2251 from Senator Udall’s office.

Sincerely, [Executive Director/CEO]

Press Release: Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation Introduced to Improve Health Care Access for American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans in Urban Areas

Washington, DC (August 2, 2019) — Today, Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Representative Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) introduced the Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act (S. 2365) which would improve health care access for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) veterans by providing Department of Veterans Affairs coverage for care that AI/AN vets receive from Title V Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs). The legislation allows AI/AN veterans better access to culturally-competent care and alleviates burdens on the VA system. In addition to Udall and Khanna, the bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and U.S. Representatives Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Don Young (R-Alaska), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.), Don Bacon (R-Neb.), and Deb Haaland (D-N.M.).   

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) passed a resolution in July supporting this legislative fix to help UIOs have the resources to better serve AI/AN veterans. The bill is also supported by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and VoteVets.

“The Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act is important legislation to ensuring that our veterans in urban areas are no longer left behind. Now, the Department of Veterans Affairs will have the explicit authority to reimburse the 41 Title V Urban Indian Organizations who are already providing critical resources for American Indian and Alaska Native veterans who have served the United States,” said NCUIH Executive Director Francys Crevier.

“The National Council of Urban Indian Health has made it a priority to ensure that Urban Indian Organizations are included in the IHS-VA MOU to help provide health care to American Indian and Alaska Native veterans. As a Native veteran myself, I understand the importance of coming home and knowing I have a safe space to receive care. Thank you to my own Representative Ro Khanna,  and we are grateful for the leadership of the 116th Congress in introducing this landmark legislation,” said NCUIH Vice President Sonya Tetnowski.

“At First Nations Community HealthSource, we never turn anyone – veteran or not – away. Native veterans in Albuquerque consider our facility a safe, accessible space to receive health care. With critical underfunding, this legislation would allow all Urban Indian Organizations to finally be reimbursed for the necessary care we already provide to our Native veterans,” said Linda Son-Stone, NCUIH Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of First Nations Community HealthSource, an Urban Indian Organization and member of NCUIH.

The NCAI resolution states: “The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) urges Congress to pass legislation that amends the Indian Health Care Improvement Act at 25 U.S.C. §1645(c) to insert UIOs after IHS and Tribal Organizations and require VA to reimburse for services provided to AI/AN veterans at all of the IHS, Tribal, and urban (I/T/U) system, in order to protect the health and welfare of AI/AN veterans living in urban centers, thereby honoring their sacrifices.”

Call to Action Toolkit: Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act

Call to Action: Ask Congress to Authorize the VA to Reimburse UIOs for Health Care

Representative Ro Khanna and Senator Tom Udall, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, introduced the Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act, a bill to improve health care access for Native American Veterans by providing Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) coverage for care that Native American Veterans receive at urban Indian health centers.  This legislation would include “urban Indian organizations” in the statute requiring the VA to reimburse Indian Health Service (IHS) and Tribal health facilities for services they provide to native veterans. To ensure that the Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act receives as much support as possible, we encourage you to contact your Member of Congress and request that they sign on as a cosponsor of this bill (if they have not already).

Write to Your House Member

Please use the following text below as a template to call or email to your Representatives. You should call and email your representative; you can find your representative here.

Dear Representative [ ],

As your constituent, I respectfully request you sign on as a cosponsor to the Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act recently introduced by Representative Ro Khanna and Senator Udall.  This bill is a critical language fix that would include “urban Indian organizations” in the statute requiring the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to reimburse Indian Health Service (IHS) and Tribal health facilities for services they provide to native veterans.

Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs) are an integral part of the American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) health care delivery system. However, due to an oversight in legislation UIOs are the only part of the IHS Indian/Tribal/Urban (I/T/U) system that do not receive reimbursement under the VA-IHS MOU reimbursement agreement. However, UIOs were created by Congress as a response to Tribes that wanted to ensure their members would receive quality health care off of reservations as part of the trust obligation.

The Department of Veterans Administration has stated that it cannot address the issue on its own, and that only Congress has the authority to correct this oversight. The Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act of 2019 would ensure that all three branches of the I/T/U system receive reimbursement for health care services delivered to AI/AN veterans.  We hope you will become a cosponsor of the Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act and show your support for the health of urban AI/AN Veterans.

For the sake of the health of American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans and the fulfillment of the U.S. trust obligation,  we request your support of this simple language fix. To sign on, please contact Mr. Will McKelvey (Will.Mckelvey@mail.house.gov ) 202-225-2631 from Congressman Ro Khanna’s office.

Sincerely, [Your Name and Address]

Write to Your Senator

Please use the following text below as a template to call or email to your Senators.  You can find your Senators here.

Dear Senator [ ],

As your constituent, I respectfully request you sign on as a cosponsor to the Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act (S.2365) recently introduced by Senator Udall and Representative Ro Khanna.  This bill is a critical language fix that would include “urban Indian organizations” in the statute requiring the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to reimburse Indian Health Service (IHS) and Tribal health facilities for services they provide to native veterans.

Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs) are an integral part of the American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) health care delivery system. However, due to an oversight in legislation UIOs are the only part of the IHS Indian/Tribal/Urban (I/T/U) system that do not receive reimbursement under the VA-IHS MOU reimbursement agreement. However, UIOs were created by Congress as a response to Tribes that wanted to ensure their members would receive quality health care off of reservations as part of the trust obligation.

The Department of Veterans Administration has stated that it cannot address the issue on its own, and that only Congress has the authority to correct this oversight. The Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act of 2019 would ensure that all three branches of the I/T/U system receive reimbursement for health care services delivered to AI/AN veterans.

We hope you will become a cosponsor of the Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act and show your support for the health of urban AI/AN Veterans.

For the sake of the health of American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans and the fulfillment of the U.S. trust obligation, we request your support of this simple language fix. To sign on, please contact Ms. Kim Moxley (Kim_Moxley@indian.senate.gov ) 202-224-2251 from Senator Udall’s office.

Sincerely, [Your Name and Address]

Social Media

Twitter

    • From your Twitter account, tweet to your Senators and Members of Congress.
      • Find your Senators’ handles here.
        • Example tweet: “Dear [@ Senator’s handle], please sign on to Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act to support Native Veterans! #urbanIndianhealth @ncuih_official”
      • Find your Members of Congress here.
        • Example tweet: “Dear [@ Member’s handle], please sign on to Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act to support Native Veterans! #urbanIndianhealth @ncuih_official”
    • Retweet

Facebook

Press Release: Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation Introduced to Improve Health Care Access for American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans in Urban Areas

Washington, DC (August 2, 2019) — Today, Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Representative Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) introduced the Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act (S. 2365) which would improve health care access for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) veterans by providing Department of Veterans Affairs coverage for care that AI/AN vets receive from Title V Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs). The legislation allows AI/AN veterans better access to culturally-competent care and alleviates burdens on the VA system. In addition to Udall and Khanna, the bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and U.S. Representatives Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Don Young (R-Alaska), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.), Don Bacon (R-Neb.), and Deb Haaland (D-N.M.).   

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) passed a resolution in July supporting this legislative fix to help UIOs have the resources to better serve AI/AN veterans. The bill is also supported by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and VoteVets.

“The Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act is important legislation to ensuring that our veterans in urban areas are no longer left behind. Now, the Department of Veterans Affairs will have the explicit authority to reimburse the 41 Title V Urban Indian Organizations who are already providing critical resources for American Indian and Alaska Native veterans who have served the United States,” said NCUIH Executive Director Francys Crevier.

“The National Council of Urban Indian Health has made it a priority to ensure that Urban Indian Organizations are included in the IHS-VA MOU to help provide health care to American Indian and Alaska Native veterans. As a Native veteran myself, I understand the importance of coming home and knowing I have a safe space to receive care. Thank you to my own Representative Ro Khanna,  and we are grateful for the leadership of the 116th Congress in introducing this landmark legislation,” said NCUIH Vice President Sonya Tetnowski.

“At First Nations Community HealthSource, we never turn anyone – veteran or not – away. Native veterans in Albuquerque consider our facility a safe, accessible space to receive health care. With critical underfunding, this legislation would allow all Urban Indian Organizations to finally be reimbursed for the necessary care we already provide to our Native veterans,” said Linda Son-Stone, Chief Executive Officer of First Nations Community HealthSource, an Urban Indian Organization and member of NCUIH.

The NCAI resolution states: “The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) urges Congress to pass legislation that amends the Indian Health Care Improvement Act at 25 U.S.C. §1645(c) to insert UIOs after IHS and Tribal Organizations and require VA to reimburse for services provided to AI/AN veterans at all of the IHS, Tribal, and urban (I/T/U) system, in order to protect the health and welfare of AI/AN veterans living in urban centers, thereby honoring their sacrifices.”

PRESS RELEASE: Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation Introduced to Improve Health Care Access for American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans in Urban Areas

The Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act has broad support across Indian Country.

Washington, DC (August 2, 2019)—Today, Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Representative Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) introduced the Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act (S. 2365) which would improve health care access for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) veterans by providing Department of Veterans Affairs coverage for care that AI/AN vets receive from Title V Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs). The legislation allows AI/AN veterans better access to culturally-competent care and alleviates burdens on the VA system. In addition to Udall and Khanna, the bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and U.S. Representatives Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Don Young (R-Alaska), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.), Don Bacon (R-Neb.), and Deb Haaland (D-N.M.).   

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) passed a resolution in July supporting this legislative fix to help UIOs have the resources to better serve AI/AN veterans. The bill is also supported by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and VoteVets.

“The Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act is important legislation to ensuring that our veterans in urban areas are no longer left behind. Now, the Department of Veterans Affairs will have the explicit authority to reimburse the 41 Title V Urban Indian Organizations who are already providing critical resources for American Indian and Alaska Native veterans who have served the United States,” said NCUIH Executive Director Francys Crevier.

“The National Council of Urban Indian Health has made it a priority to ensure that Urban Indian Organizations are included in the IHS-VA MOU to help provide health care to American Indian and Alaska Native veterans. As a Native veteran myself, I understand the importance of coming home and knowing I have a safe space to receive care. Thank you to my own Representative Ro Khanna,  and we are grateful for the leadership of the 116th Congress in introducing this landmark legislation,” said NCUIH Vice President Sonya Tetnowski.

“At First Nations Community HealthSource, we never turn anyone – veteran or not – away. Native veterans in Albuquerque consider our facility a safe, accessible space to receive health care. With critical underfunding, this legislation would allow all Urban Indian Organizations to finally be reimbursed for the necessary care we already provide to our Native veterans,” said Linda Son-Stone, NCUIH Secretary Chief Executive Officer of First Nations Community HealthSource, an Urban Indian Organization and member of NCUIH.

The NCAI resolution states: “The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) urges Congress to pass legislation that amends the Indian Health Care Improvement Act at 25 U.S.C. §1645(c) to insert UIOs after IHS and Tribal Organizations and require VA to reimburse for services provided to AI/AN veterans at all of the IHS, Tribal, and urban (I/T/U) system, in order to protect the health and welfare of AI/AN veterans living in urban centers, thereby honoring their sacrifices.”

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About the National Council of Urban Indian Health

The National Council of Urban Indian Health (NCUIH) is the national organization devoted to the support and development of quality, accessible, and culturally-competent health services for American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) living in urban settings. NCUIH envisions a nation where comprehensive, culturally competent personal and public health services are available and accessible to AI/ANs living in urban communities throughout the United States.  NCUIH is the only organization that represents all 41 Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs) federally funded by the Indian Health Service.

Press Release from Rep. Ro Khanna

RELEASE: KHANNA, UDALL INTRODUCE BIPARTISAN, BICAMERAL BILL TO IMPROVE HEALTH CARE ACCESS FOR NATIVE AMERICAN VETERANS

August 2, 2019

Press Release

Bill will ensure equal access to culturally competent care for urban Native veterans in cities across the United States

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Representative Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, announced introduction of the Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act, a bill to improve health care access for Native American Veterans by providing Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) coverage for care that Native American veterans receive at urban Indian health centers.  This legislation would help Native American veterans acquire culturally competent care, while at the same time helping relieve the burden on the VA system.

“Native Americans serve in the military at a higher rate than any other population, and over 70 percent of Native Americans live in urban areas. Urban Indian organizations, like the Indian Health Center of Santa Clara Valley, fill a crucial gap in the health care system for Native Americans that do not have access to more remote facilities run by the Indian Health Service. To honor their service to the United States, we must ensure that Native veterans have access to the care that best fits their cultural and health needs,” said Rep. Khanna.

“We owe all veterans a debt for their service to our country, and this legislation will ensure more Native veterans have equal access to timely, culturally-competent care regardless of where they choose to live after leaving their military service. I am proud this bill continues my work toward equitable and effective health care for all Native communities,” said Senator Udall. 

The Indian Health Service (IHS) is the primary federal agency responsible for providing health care to Native Americans through a series of federally operated facilities, tribally run facilities, and urban Indian health centers operated by urban Indian organizations. Federal law allows the VA to reimburse federally-operated and Tribally-operated IHS facilities for services they provide to Native American veterans.

However, the law does not currently allow urban Indian health centers to participate in the same service reimbursement agreements as other two branches of IHS. This exclusion limits the ability of those urban facilities to maintain and expand services sought by Native American veterans and other Native American patients.  The Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act will correct this exclusion and allow Native American veterans to have access to the timely, culturally competent care they deserve.

In addition to Udall and Khanna, the bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and U.S. Representatives Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Don Young (R-Alaska), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.), Don Bacon (R-Neb.), and Deb Haaland (D-N.M.).

“All veterans deserve to have access to the benefits and services they have earned, but limitations in the law are preventing Native American veterans from seeing providers at urban Indian health centers. We’re putting a bill forward that will ensure Indian health programs are eligible for reimbursements from the VA, so that Native American veterans get the services they need in a timely manner while giving the VA more options to deliver services in a timely manner,” said Rep. Haaland, Co-Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus.

“Native American veterans have earned the right to quality, culturally-sensitive health care. Our country is indebted to Native veterans in this respect and more. I stand beside Rep. Khanna as he calls attention to the unique shortfalls that exist for Native veterans in our healthcare systems. The majority of Native Americans live in urban areas, and yet problems persist in VA and Indian Health Service reimbursements that reduce patients’ access to care. The Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act will close gaps in health equity for Native veterans. I hope to quickly see its passage through the U.S. House,” said Assistant Speaker Luján.

“Native Americans have served our nation in uniform at a historically high rate, but too often these veterans face barriers and roadblocks when it comes to receiving the care and benefits they’ve earned. Our bipartisan bill provides Native American veterans in Montana with the health care and services they need when returning home from military service. It also expands Native American veterans’ access to care by streamlining reimbursements to clinics that provide essential care to these men and women in uniform,” said Senator Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

“Right now, dozens of clinics around the country that serve Native veterans-including several in Minnesota-aren’t being reimbursed for care they provide like their federally or tribally operated counterparts. Clinics that serve Native veterans in urban areas should be reimbursed just the same as clinics in any other community. These are clinics that treat things like mental health–including PTSD–chronic diseases, and addiction. And they do so in a culturally sensitive way meaning that Native vets often seek care at these facilities instead of at the VA. Our bill would make a simple fix to make sure clinics get the same level of reimbursement no matter where they’re located,” said Senator Smith.

“I am proud to be an original cosponsor of the Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act. This bill will amend the Indian Health Care Improvement Act to authorize urban Indian organizations to enter into arrangements for the sharing of medical services and facilities,” said Rep. Gosar.

“I have long supported giving veterans a choice in how they access their health care. Alaska Native veterans and veterans from Native communities across our country deserve to seek care at facilities that are close to their homes and from doctors who they feel most comfortable with. This legislation is simple: if a Native veteran accesses care from an Urban Indian Organization clinic, then that clinic should be reimbursed by the VA for services provided. Our veterans risked everything to keep our country safe, and this legislation is an important part of ensuring that our heroes receive the care they have earned. I am grateful to Representatives Khanna, Moore, and Gosar for their leadership on this issue and look forward to working with them to get it past the finish line,” said Rep. Young.

“This partnership supports eligible Native American veterans in Nebraska and provides access to quality health care closer to their home. Passing this legislation would promote accessible public-health services by increasing care coordination, collaboration, and resource-sharing between the agencies,” said Rep. Bacon.

“This legislation would ensure that all tribal health programs serving Native veterans can be reimbursed by the VA. Native American veterans bravely served our country. We need to ensure they are taken care of and receive care that meets their unique cultural and social needs,” said Rep. Moore.

As of 2018, the VA had partnered with 188 federally-operated and Tribally-operated IHS facilities to provide direct care and reimbursement for services ranging from primary care to behavioral health. These agreements have resulted in improved access to care for more than 9,300 Native American veterans.

With the Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act, 37 urban Indian nonprofit IHS facilities operating in 19 states will be able to partner with VA on similar reimbursement agreements, including the First Nations Community HealthSource in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the Indian Health Center of Santa Clara Valley facility in San Jose, California.

“At First Nations Community HealthSource, we never turn anyone – veteran or not – away. Native veterans in Albuquerque consider our facility a safe, accessible space to receive health care,” said Linda Son-Stone, Chief Executive Officer of First Nations Community HealthSource. “With critical underfunding, this legislation would allow all Urban Indian Organizations to provide more services for the necessary care we already provide to our Native veterans. Thank you, Senator Udall, Representative Haaland, and all of the legislators who made Native veterans a priority.”

“The National Council of Urban Indian Health has made it a priority to ensure that Urban Indian Organizations are included in the IHS-VA MOU to help provide health care to American Indian and Alaska Native veterans,” said Sonya Tetnowski, Vice President of the National Council of Urban Indian Health and CEO of the Indian Health Center of Santa Clara Valley. “As a Native veteran myself, I understand the importance of coming home and knowing I have a safe space to receive care. Thank you to my own Representative Ro Khanna, and we are grateful for the leadership of the 116th Congress in introducing this landmark legislation.”

The bill is supported by the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), National Council of Urban Indian Health (NCUIH), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of American, and VoteVets.

“The Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act is important legislation to ensuring that our Native veterans in urban areas are no longer left behind,” said Francys Crevier, NCUIH Executive Director. “Now, the Department of Veterans Affairs will be able to fully work with the 41 Title V Urban Indian Organizations that are integral to the Indian Health Service IHS/Tribal/Urban system who are already providing critical resources for American Indian and Alaska Native veterans who have served the United States as part of their dual trust obligation not only for veterans but also for American Indians and Alaska Natives.”

The full text of the legislation can be found HERE.

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About the Office

Congressman Khanna represents the 17th District of California, which covers communities in Silicon Valley. Visit his website at khanna.house.gov. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @RepRoKhanna.

NCUIH Youth Council: Meet Adon Vazquez

I am an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians from North Carolina. I am a sophomore at Wayne State University and I have strong commitment when comes to supporting native youth. I am a peer mentor at American Indian Health and Family Services of Southeastern Michigan (AIHFS). I’m very grateful to be a part of the inaugural youth council for the National Council of Urban Indian Health.

What is the NCUIH Youth Council? We are a council dedicated to reducing substance abuse and suicidal burden among Native youth by building a global network in which American Indian and Alaska Native youth can share and exchange ideas, knowledge, resources, and support services. Basically, we want to help Urban and Tribal Native youth in their cultural, spiritual, and physical health journeys by providing resources and helping to develop resiliency tactics.

Our first major event as a council is our Youth Convening. Here, we will introduce you our 2 hashtag campaigns we have coming up. These campaigns are designed BY Native youth FOR Native youth. They are aimed to help build a national network of support while simultaneously showing Native youth that you are not alone, our culture is the armor that protects us, and to embrace your indigeneity.

If you are looking be a part of this national network and learn how to be become an Indigi-Wellness Champion – Join us this Tuesday, August 6th, 2019 from 3:00 PM- 5:00PM EST for our Virtual Native Youth Convening.

Register here → https://www.ncuih.org/Youth-Convening

So I ask…. How do you stay resilient?