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Veterans Affairs aims to expand efforts with Indian Health Service





The Department of Veterans Affairs is seeking to expand its efforts with the Indian Health Service, according to the Trump administration.

The two agencies have been working together to ensure Indian veterans receive they care to which they are entitled. In some cases, that consists of receiving services at IHS facilities closer to their homes rather than going to VA locations farther away.

"We know our number one priority is to provide veterans access to the high quality care they've earned in a VA faclity or as close to home as possible," VA Secretary David Shulkin, who also served in the Obama administration, told the House Committee on Veterans Affairs on Tuesday evening. Shulkin's testimony about working with the IHS was first reported by the Associated Press.

Separately, the VA has been working with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to address homelessness among veterans. Key lawmakers are calling on the Trump administration to put more efforts into a component known as Tribal HUD-VA Supportive Housing or Tribal HUD-VASH.

“Tribal HUD-VASH grants are intended to provide rental assistance, case management, and clinical and supportive services for Native American veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness,” Sen. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico), the chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana), a former chair and vice chair of the panel, wrote in a February 15 letter to Shulkin. “We are concerned the current level of support from VA is not allowing for the timely implementation of the program or achieving the goal of reducing Native American homelessness in tribal communities.”

Tribes received HUD-VASH grants for the first time in 2016.

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