Native Veterans represent the highest proportion of rural Veterans in the country. The often isolated and dispersed nature of rural Native Veterans presents significant barriers for access and quality of care. In response to these challenges, the Office of Rural Health established the Veterans Rural Health Resource Center-Western Region (VRHRC-WR) Native Domain to serve as a national resource on healthcare issues for rural Native Veterans.
Native Veterans from American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander populations have a proud tradition of military service and sacrifice. Native Veterans serve at the highest rate per capita of any ethnic group in the U.S. Armed Forces and are the most rural of all Veteran groups. Studies demonstrate they also disproportionately suffer the consequences of service, including higher rates of disorders related to combat exposure, such as PTSD and substance disorders.
Given the considerable cultural, social and geographic diversity of rural Native Veterans, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) programs and activities targeted at this population may benefit from policy strategies that embrace a national scope while maintaining a local focus.
All work produced from the Native Domain will be considered with regards to a national scope with a local focus. A national scope involves VHA engaging at a system-wide level in a collaborative, coordinated and cohesive effort to attend to the needs of these Native populations. A local focus refers to the adaptation of national efforts—including policy, best practices, partnerships, programs and dissemination—to the environments of rural Native Veterans at the level of individual tribes, villages, islands and communities.
The Native Domain’s goals are to conduct policy analysis, collect best practices, foster clinical demonstration projects, coordinate and partner with agencies and Native communities, and disseminate information about these populations.