Native Americans currently account for 1.7 percent of total troops, both enlisted and officer, though Native Americans account for just 1.4 percent of the United States population. According to Indian Country Today, “Native Americans have the highest per-capita involvement of any population to serve in the U.S. military.” Service and commitment continue beyond the military, as many tribal leaders and service providers are Veterans. This large group of past and current service members continues to give to their communities and their country, even when they and their families are in need of service and/or support.
One exciting resource is SAMHSA’s Tribal Technical Assistance Center (TTAC), which provides training and technical assistance for tribes and tribal organizations that provide behavioral health services. Past relevant technical assistance efforts have included collaborative webinars highlighting tribal Veteran prevention and wellness efforts, opportunities to share and discuss tribal wellness best practices, and disseminating targeted prevention resources. TTAC staff has supported virtual and onsite training efforts to assist tribes with behavioral health strategic planning and developing social marketing campaigns to reduce the impact of stigma and support a strengths-based, resiliency-focused outreach for Veterans and their families. These interactions have provided opportunities for healing and the sharing of health-promotion resources. Other notable efforts include facilitating Veterans’ groups in developing mission and vision statements and focus groups on how to attract women Veterans and younger Veterans to existing Veterans’ groups. TTAC has also supported other Veteran-focused wellness events and Veteran digital storytelling events that celebrate the role of cultural values and perspectives in healing with Native American Veterans.
Authors: Barbara Aragon, Seprieono Locario, and Barb Smutek—SAMHSA Tribal Technical Assistance Center
The Indian Health Service and VA have partnered to improve access and service delivery to American Indian and Alaska Native military Veterans.
Native American Veterans Association serves and honors men and women who have served active duty and their families.