Veterans

Natives Veterans are highly regarded within tribal communities for their dedication and commitment to serving in the Armed Services throughout America’s history and up to the present day. American Indian and Alaska Native people serve in the US Armed Services at a higher rate than any other group. According to the 2010 Census, it is estimated that over 150,000 veterans identified as American Indian and Alaska Native alone. The US Department of Defense estimates there are currently over 24,000 active duty Native service members in the US Armed Forces.

Veterans returning home are entitled to the benefits that the federal government has made available. But as Native veterans return home and seek to access the benefits they are entitled to, veteran services and benefits for them fall short of their needs and are less adequate than those provided to their non-Native counterparts. NCAI proudly seeks fair and dignified treatment of all veterans and also advocates for federal support and funding for American Indian and Alaska Native veteran programs and services.The NCAI Veterans Committee meets annually at both NCAI’s Mid-Year Conference and Annual Convention and has been tracking the development of Native memorials in tribute to the military service of Native people.

NCAI is currently working to secure resources to enable tribal communities to establish Veteran Treatment Courts, an important tool in supporting veterans; to increase the number of tribal Veteran Service Officers; to increase funding for VA tribal home-loan programs and the homeless veteran initiative; and to educate the Department of Defense about appropriate (and inappropriate) references to Native people.

In addition, NCAI has been working with federal agencies and the Department of Defense to monitor and keep the most accurate information regarding Native veterans and active-duty service members.