Tester Statement on Inaugural VA Advisory Committee on Tribal and Indian Affairs and Appointment of Montana’s Jestin Dupree

Committee established by Tester-passed law will improve VA’s outreach to Native American veterans nationwide

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has appointed its first-ever Advisory Committee on Tribal and Indian Affairs, including Jestin Dupree of Poplar, Montana. In response, Chairman Tester released the following statement:

“Native Americans serve our nation in uniform at the highest rates, and it’s critical these veterans are well represented at VA and empowered to shape Department policy to meet the needs of all veterans living in Indian country,” said Tester. “This is a groundbreaking moment for Native veterans in Montana and across the country, and I couldn’t be prouder to have Mr. Dupree serve on this first-ever Committee. Mr. Dupree is well-qualified for this position, and I look forward to working with him and the Committee to ensure we are living up to our promises to our Native American veterans.”

The Advisory Committee on Tribal and Indian Affairs will provide advice and guidance to the VA Secretary on all matters relating to American Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native veterans. It will also report recommendations to Congress for legislation to improve Native American veterans’ access to VA health care and benefits.

Chairman Tester’s VA Tribal Advisory Committee Act established the VA Advisory Committee on Tribal and Indian Affairs, which was signed into law earlier this year as part of an end-of-year package to better address the needs of Native veterans nationwide.

As a member and former Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Tester has consistently led the effort to better address the unique barriers Native American veterans face when accessing VA services and expand communication between the VA and Tribes. Tester’s Native American Veteran (PACT) Act was also signed into law this year, successfully eliminating copayments for Native American veterans accessing VA health care, bringing parity between services provided at VA and at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Indian Health Service (IHS).

Mr. Dupree serves on the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes Council as an Executive Board member and is a U.S. Army veteran. Following his appointment, Dupree will serve a two- to three-year term on the Committee.