Workshop scheduled May 7-8

Staff Writer
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

On May 7-8, The Veterans Administration and the Osage Nation of Oklahoma, with sponsorship from Osage Casinos, will host a Presumptive Conditions Campaign Event focused on identifying and assisting veterans across Osage Nation and Oklahoma who may have presumptive disabilities and who might be eligible for a VA pension claim. A presumptive disability is a condition that VA presumes are related to military service, although the condition may first appear after discharge from the military. These conditions may qualify for VA compensation payments.

“I’m happy to see the Osage Nation and VA collaborating to bring service information and support to rural Native communities like the Osage Nation,” said Maria DeRoin (Osage), Osage Veterans Memorial Commission Consultant and Central Communications Coordinator and a 20-year U.S. Navy veteran. “Living in rural areas means access to services and information is more difficult to come by and veterans and their families may not know their medical conditions are related to military service. This campaign is a very important step to help veterans in Indian Country get the services they need.”

Throughout 2018, VA is launching a nationwide campaign to roll out veteran disability enrollment claim events collaboratively with 20 tribal communities. The campaign, titled “Your Service. Our Mission: Bringing Benefits Home” kicked off March 21 in Navajo Nation and tribal communities in 11 states have already confirmed their participation.

VA realizes that reaching these veterans could have a direct, tangible impact on the lives of thousands of previously unreached veterans and their spouses. This will help VA enhance and improve the experience for all Veterans and their families.

“With the focus on veterans with presumptive disabilities and those who are pension eligible, VA is hopeful we can help Indian Country veterans access the full range of benefits they have courageously earned through their service,” said Stephanie Birdwell, director, VA’s Office of Tribal Government Relations.

In addition, spouses may be eligible for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation when a veteran dies as a result of these presumptive disabilities.

During the event, health information and other benefits will be available and provided by both Oklahoma City and Muskogee VA Medical Centers, Muskogee Veterans Benefits Administrations Regional Office, the State Department of Veterans Affairs, Disabled Veterans of America, local Vet Centers and Tribal Veteran Service Officers who will be on site to assist with filling out claims paperwork.

Services offered for this two-day event:

• Social Security Disability Determination Office

• Veterans Service Officers filling out disability claims

• VBA Regional Office staff reviewing claims on the spot with the hope of possibly approving several claims that same day

Other service area agencies will be on site to provide program services information that veterans may be eligible for

• Veterans Health Care System enrollment

The event is free and lunch is generously provided by sponsorship from Osage Casinos. Contacts are Mary Culley, VA Tribal Government Relations Specialist at (405) 626-3425, Mary.Culley@va.gov and Maria DeRoin, OVMC Consultant and Central Communications Coordinator, Osage Nation of Oklahoma, (918) 287-9729, mdderoin@osagenation-nsn.gov for additional information.