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Tribal Veterans Representative (TVR) Training Program: The Effect of Community Outreach Workers on American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans Access to and Utilization of the Veterans Health Administration

TitleTribal Veterans Representative (TVR) Training Program: The Effect of Community Outreach Workers on American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans Access to and Utilization of the Veterans Health Administration
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsKaufmann, LJ, Richardson, Jr., WJBuck, Floyd, J, Shore, J
JournalJ Community HealthJ Community Health
Date PublishedMar 2
ISBN Number1573-3610 (Electronic)<br/>0094-5145 (Linking)
Accession Number24585103
AbstractAmerican Indians and Alaska Natives serve at the highest rate of any US race or ethnic group, yet are the most underserved population of Veterans and do not take advantage of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits and services. Barriers to seeking care include stigma, especially for mental health issues; distance to care; and lack of awareness of benefits and services they are entitled to receive. In response to this underutilization of the VA, an innovative program-the Tribal Veterans Representative (TVR) program-was developed within the VA to work with American Indians and Alaska Natives in rural and remote areas. The TVR goes through extensive training every year; is a volunteer, a Veteran and tribal community member who seeks out unenrolled Native Veterans, provides them with information on VA health care services and benefits, and assists them with enrollment paperwork. Being from the community they serve, these outreach workers are able to develop relationships and build rapport and trust with fellow Veterans. In place for over a decade in Montana, this program has enrolled a countless number of Veterans, benefiting not only the individual, but their family and the community as well. Also resulting from this program, are the implementation of Telemental Health Clinics treating Veterans with PTSD, a transportation program helping Veterans get to and from distant VA facilities, a Veteran Resource Center, and a Veteran Tribal Clinic. This program has successfully trained over 800 TVRs, expanded to other parts of the country and into remote areas of Alaska.
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