Our American Indian and Alaska Native veterans are the warriors and protectors of our Tribal communities. They are brave. They are honorable. They are the men and women who have sacrificed so much to keep our lands and our people safe. On this special day of recognition - Veterans Day - I humbly say thank you for your service.
At the Indian Health Service it is our mission to improve health care access and delivery, and this is especially true for veterans. Through a Memorandum of Understanding between the IHS and the Department of Veterans Affairs, both agencies will continue to coordinate, collaborate and share resources to ensure the caliber of care veterans receive at an IHS or VA facility is comprehensive and valuable.
Both agencies also signed a reimbursement agreement allowing VA to financially compensate IHS for direct health care provided to American Indian and Alaska Native veterans that are part of the VA's system. The VA reimbursement includes direct care service provided in the medical benefits package available to veterans, including inpatient hospital, outpatient hospital and clinic, ambulatory surgical and outpatient pharmacy services.
The IHS wants to hire veterans too. As part of its Veterans Hiring Initiative, the IHS will collaborate with the VA on federal recruitment events targeting veterans. Additionally, the IHS will partner with the Department of Defense on recruitment of separating active duty service members through the Transition Assistance Program. The IHS will also partner with Tribes in recruitment outreach efforts targeted at Tribal members who are active duty or veterans.
Robert G. McSwain, a member of the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians of California, is the Principal Deputy Director for the Indian Health Service (IHS). Mr. McSwain most recently served as the Acting Director for the IHS, and has more than 30 years of experience in Tribal health care.