While they had complaints for the VA administrators, lawmakers were more likely to offer the advocates suggestions for potential solutions. “Have we given thought to a possible joint facility with the VA and the IHS (Indian Health Service) so that the Navajo people could benefit from the economy of scale and to make it a much fuller array of services?” asked Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif. “The best way to justify that would be to open it up to both the IHS beneficiaries as well as VA beneficiaries.” Nygren said that sounded like a “great idea.” Nygren also pointed to other initiatives, including a potential partnership between the Navajo Nation and a new medical school planned for Northern Arizona University, in order to help provide the nation with doctors and nurses. He said he is working with Rep. Eli Crane, R-Oro Valley, to “find out if there is some sort of program that can be worked out (with NAU) that can be geared towards Navajo nurses and doctors that are closer to Navajo.” After the hearing, Nygren said a VA medical center would help “the physical, mental and emotional health of our veterans” while a VA benefits center “is a great way for our veterans to really start utilizing some of the benefits that the VA does have to offer.” “It would be nice to have another Navajo person be able to sit down with them and talk to them and walk them through everything because sometimes, it can be a lot of culture shock when you’ve got to travel to these other places and you’re not sitting across the table from someone that looks like you,” Nygren said.
Proud to have Navajo Nation President @BuuVanNygren at today's @HouseVetAffairs hearing as my guest.— Rep. Eli Crane (@RepEliCrane) January 11, 2024
It's critical that Congress works to better serve tribal veterans who have sacrificed so much for the whole of our nation. Thanks to Chairman @RepBost for holding this hearing. pic.twitter.com/QXS7LumPR8
Rural Access: Is VA Meeting All Veterans Where They Live? (docs.house.gov) For more stories from Cronkite News, visit cronkitenews.azpbs.org.
Note: This story originally appeared on Cronkite News. It is published via a Creative Commons license. Cronkite News is produced by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.
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