Skip to site content

Veterans

 

Military veteran

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) Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov 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.

Websites

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 Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK), Press 1.

For online support, visit the chat page at the Veterans Crisis Chat line Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov.

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 Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov.

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 Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov 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 Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov.

Veterans Benefits Administration

The Veterans Benefits Administration Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov provides not only compensation and pension information, but also education benefits and home loan information. Please visit the Veterans Benefits Administration Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov 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

For more information on available VA services and resources for Native American Veterans, visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Tribal page Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov and the Office of Rural Health Native Domain site Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov.

Multimedia

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 Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov. VA reimbursement for traditional Native American healing practices used in the treatment of PTSD is discussed.

Native American Veterans: Storytelling for Healing

Storytelling for Healing Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov, a website and DVD produced by the Administration for Native Americans Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov, provides resources and advice to Native American veterans adjusting to civilian life.

Mobile App: PTSD Coach

The PTSD Coach Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov 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 Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov, 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 Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov 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 PTSDExit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov.

Suicide Prevention Mini-Clinic

The Community Provider Toolkit, provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs, includes the Suicide Prevention Mini-Clinic Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov, 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.