Service to the community and the nation are important Native traditions; American Indian and Alaska Native people serve at a higher rate than other groups. Upon returning to civilian life, many veterans suffer from depression, anxiety, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). If left untreated, veterans experiencing mental health issues may think about or attempt suicide.
The Indian Health Service and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have partnered to improve access and service delivery to American Indian and Alaska Native military veterans. In October 2012, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the IHS and the VA was renewed to continue coordination, collaboration, and resource sharing.
Veterans Crisis Line
If you are a veteran, or if a family member or loved one is a veteran, confidential support is only a call, click, or text away.
The Veterans Crisis Line is staffed by qualified VA responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text messaging. For confidential help, contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK), Press 1.
For online support, visit the chat page at the Veterans Crisis Chat line .
The Veterans Crisis Line also provides SMS text messaging service. Text a message to 838255 to receive support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Locate VA Suicide Prevention Coordinators and Crisis Centers, Medical Centers, Outpatient Clinics, and Benefit Administration Offices through an interactive map or by zip code through the Veterans Crisis Line's resource locator .
Veterans Health Benefits
The first step in obtaining access to VA Health Benefits is to apply for enrollment. Veterans who served in a theater of combat operations after November 11, 1998, may complete an application for enrollment by telephone. VA staff members will collect the needed information and process the enrollment application for an enrollment determination. To apply, call 1-877-222-8387 (VETS), Monday through Friday, between 8 AM and 8 PM Eastern time.
Veterans may also apply in-person at a VA health care facility (visit the VA Locations page for a map of VA health care facilities). For additional information on how to enroll for benefits, or to obtain information on Long Term Care, please visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Health Benefits .
Veterans Benefits Administration
The Veterans Benefits Administration provides not only compensation and pension information, but also education benefits and home loan information. Please visit the Veterans Benefits Administration or call 1-800-827-1000 to begin the process to obtain benefits and services.
Veterans Center Programs
Veterans Centers offer a broad range of services, from counseling and outreach to referrals, for Veterans and their families. Services for a Veteran may include individual and group counseling in areas such as PTSD, alcohol and drug assessment, and suicide prevention referrals. All services are free of cost, and are strictly confidential. Please call the Veterans Center Call Center at 1-877-927-8387 (WAR VETS) to find the nearest location.
Office of Rural Health (ORH) Native Domain
Getting to Know Our American Indian/Alaska Native Veterans
Thomas Bird Bear (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara) from the VA Office of Tribal Government Relations, reported on his visits to VA and IHS facilities in the Southwest in this blog entry . VA reimbursement for traditional Native American healing practices used in the treatment of PTSD is discussed.
Native American Veterans: Storytelling for Healing
Mobile App: PTSD Coach
The PTSD Coach mobile app (pictured) can help Veterans learn about and manage symptoms that commonly occur after trauma. The National Center for PTSD is dedicated to research and education on trauma and PTSD, and works to ensure that the latest research findings help those exposed to trauma. Produced by the Veterans Affairs' National Center for PTSD , in partnership with the Department of Defense National Center for Telehealth and Technology, the app features reliable information on PTSD and treatments that work, tools for screening and tracking symptoms, convenient skills to help handle stress symptoms, facts and self-help techniques based on research, and direct links to support and help.
Publications, Reports and Presentations
PTSD Among Ethnic Minority Veterans
An article published by the VA's National Center for PTSD discusses the differences in PTSD rates between ethnic minorities and the white population, and what mental health professionals need to do to properly serve minority veterans.
Psychological Trauma for American Indians Who Served in Vietnam
PTSD effects on Native American veterans were examined in a study by the National Center for PTSD.
Suicide Prevention Mini-Clinic
The Community Provider Toolkit, provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs, includes the Suicide Prevention Mini-Clinic , which features tools and links for suicide prevention for veterans, family, and providers.
American Indian Combat Veterans
A presentation [PDF - 155 KB] given at the 2012 IHS National Behavioral Health Conference examined the effect of childhood experiences on Native American veterans in civilian life, and cited treatment options for Native veterans, as well as barriers to treatment.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Impacts on Children, Families, and Communities, and Hopeful Treatments
A presentation [PDF - 301 KB] given at the 2012 IHS National Behavioral Health Conference provided a diagnostic and historical overview of PTSD, identified impacts, and examined special treatment issues and proven treatments.