Navajo Nation first tribe to achieve accreditation to file VA benefits claims

FARMINGTON — The Navajo Nation Veterans Administration was formally recognized by the head of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for being the first tribal nation program to receive accreditation to help veterans submit federal benefits claims directly to the VA.

VA Secretary Denis McDonough recognized the tribal government program’s status during a visit to Gallup on June 28.

“We’ve been negotiating this with President Nez and his team. They are the first tribe to take up this new authority,” McDonough said. “I’m thrilled that we can announce that today and as importantly, put it into action.”

He added that this is part of the VA’s work to make sure tribal nations have a seat at the table, this includes having veteran service officers on tribal lands who can submit veterans’ benefits claims to the VA.

McDonough’s visit came a day after it was announced that a group of bipartisan senators ended the review process on recommendations by the VA to close outpatient clinics in several states, including those in Gallup, Española, Las Vegas and Raton.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez noted that the accreditation achieved by the tribal government’s VA will greatly help Navajo veterans, many who face difficulties in traveling to VA centers outside the tribal land.

“Today marks a milestone with our partnership with the VA also our Navajo Nation VA,” Nez said.Last month, Nez’s office announced that the Navajo Nation VA met the criteria and standards to be accredited through the federal VA’s Tribal Representation Expansion Project.There are now five Navajo […]

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