November 20, 2019

Hoeven Holds Legislative, Oversight Hearing on Native Veterans with VA Secretary Wilkie


Senator Hoeven at November 20, 2019 SCIA Oversight & Legislative Hearing


WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, today held an oversight hearing on “Recognizing the Sacrifice: Honoring a Nation’s Promise to Native Veterans” which included testimony from Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie, the first sitting VA Secretary to testify before the Indian Affairs Committee. Additionally, the Committee held a legislative hearing to receive testimony on S. 1001, the Tribal Veterans Health Care Enhancement Act and S. 2365, the Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act of 2019.


“Today, the Committee received testimony from the Honorable Robert Wilkie, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He is the first sitting Veterans Affairs Secretary to testify before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs since becoming a permanent Committee 35 years ago,” said Hoeven at the oversight hearing. “Native Americans continue to serve in the armed services at a higher per capita rate than any other ethnic group in the United States. The hearing today will examine how the United States can fulfill its promise to Native American veterans for the sacrifice that they made in defense of our country. The many contributions Native Americans have played in the country are historic.”


“In addition, we heard about the importance of two bills that will help ensure the United States fulfills the promises made to the men and women of the armed services,” said Hoeven at the legislative hearing. “One of today’s witness is the Honorable Mark Fox, Chairman of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation in my home state of North Dakota. Chairman Fox is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and we thank him for his testimony and for his honorable service.”


The committee received testimony regarding:


S. 1001, which would authorize the Indian Health Service to cover the cost of copayments for American Indian or Alaska Native veterans receiving medical care or services from the VA upon an authorized referral from the Indian Health Service.  


S. 2365, the Health Care Access for Urban Native Veterans Act of 2019, which would provide uniformity to the reimbursement process that the VA and the Indian Health Service agree upon for health care services provided to Indian Veterans.


The Committee received testimony from two panels:


Panel I


The Honorable Robert Wilkie, Secretary, U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, Washington, DC


Panel II


Dr. Kameron Matthews, Deputy Undersecretary for Community Care, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, DC


Rear Admiral Chris Buchanan, Deputy Director, Indian Health Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, Rockville, MD


The Honorable Mark Fox, Chairman, Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, New Town, ND


The Honorable Jestin Dupree, Councilman, Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes, Popular, MT


For witness testimony and video of the oversight and legislative hearings, click here.