CalVet advocates for Native American veterans.
Governor Gavin Newsom has proclaimed November as Native American Heritage Month, and the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) sees this as the perfect time to reaffirm its commitment and dedication to the state’s Native American veterans.
“We recognize the rich diversity of the Native American peoples and their long history here,” the Governor wrote in his proclamation. “Since time immemorial, Native Americans stewarded this land, from the redwood forests and salmon of California, to the buffalo and sweet grass of the Great Plains, to the Three Sisters cultivated and cherished from sea to sea. They built communities, fostered rich cultures and spoke some 300 different languages and dialects.”
California has 109 federally recognized tribes, making the state home to a large number of Native Americans. They’ve served in every war on this continent, including the War of 1812, the Civil War, as well as in every war and conflict since.
Even so, Native American veterans continue to be among the most underserved. At CalVet, Native American veterans are an integral part of the agency’s Minority Veterans Affairs Division. Many live in rural communities far from U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities and therefore have a limited number of options when it comes to veteran specific community-based care.
To support change, CalVet, the VA, and the Office of Tribal Government relations have co-sponsored three Tribal Veteran Advocate training sessions, and plan to continue that partnership to train and connect more tribal veterans and their families to access their earned benefits.
“We will continue to incorporate the needs of the Native American veteran community in our statewide plan to deliver high qualify advocacy and service to all California’s veterans,” said CalVet Secretary Vito Imbasciani MD.
Earlier this month, Dr. Imbasciani, along with newly appointed Deputy Secretary for Minority Veterans Affairs Xochitl Rodriguez Murillo, participated on a panel for the California Tribal Nations Conference.
Dr. Imbasciani has also participated in Native American Day ceremonies at the State Capitol, and spoke at the dedication of “The Gift,” a statue honoring American Indian and Alaska Natives, at the Riverside National Cemetery in May.