Veterans Affairs discuss memorandum

Tribal veteran, Rod Grove, speaks on behalf of the veterans from the Southern Ute Indian Tribe at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs meeting in Towaoc, Colo.
Scott McIntyre, tribal health consultant, discusses the health care needs for tribal veterans.
Councilman Howard D. Richards, Rod Grove, Scott McIntyre, and Lola Osawe from the Southern Ute Health Center represented the Southern Ute Indian Tribe.
Damon Toledo | The Southern Ute Drum
Damon Toledo | The Southern Ute Drum
Damon Toledo | The Southern Ute Drum

The topics of health care and available services for veterans were lively during a U.S. Department of Veterans Affair meeting held in Towaoc, Colo. on Wednesday, Aug. 20. Medical Center Directors and Executive Leaders met in the Ute Mountain Ute Casino Convention Center to discuss the benefits of various Indian health centers around the four corners, including updated services that are ensured to benefit the number of native veterans. Some of these benefits include disability compensation, pensions, life insurance, and behavioral health. It has been the Veterans Affairs established goal to serve the honoring men and women who are America’s veterans.

Scott McIntyre, health care consultant for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, spoke on behalf of the Southern Ute Health Center in regards of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Indian Health Service. The MOU was signed in Dec. 2013 and ensured Veteran Affairs services were made available at the Southern Ute Health Center, providing a better convenience for local veterans in Ignacio and the surrounding area.

“One of the biggest reasons for the MOU was to make sure that veterans had the availability for [health services]”, said McIntyre. “Many of the veterans were going to Albuquerque or Grand Junction which resulted with issues trying to get back and forth. The Southern Ute Indian Tribe has approximately 75 veterans with many who use the Durango outpatient center but also want to use the Southern Ute Health Center’s primary care.”

McIntyre added that the Southern Ute Indian Tribe decided to pursue the MOU because it made more sense when taking care of veterans.

“It makes sense to take care of the membership of Native American vets in your area and provide them another alternative to access care,” he said. “We’re still reaching out to more veterans…some who also have an alternative resources such as Blue Cross or other insurances. It’s nice to be at home, hear the voice, and see the face you know. I think that’s important for us to serve our veterans in that manner.”

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