Luján, Rounds, and Johnson Introduce National American Indian Veterans Charter Bill
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), members of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, today led a group of 36 senators in introducing bipartisan legislation to create a congressional charter for the National American Indian Veterans (NAIV).
Congress grants charters to recognize patriotic and national organizations that operate solely for charitable, literary, educational, scientific or civil improvement purposes. The NAIV serves the needs and interests of Native American veterans in collaboration with its national leadership and 14 regional offices. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there are more than 140,000 Native American veterans in the United States. While congressional charters have been granted to Italian-American, Polish-American and Catholic-American veterans groups, as of today, no Native American veterans’ organization has received one.
Headquartered in South Dakota on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Reservation, the NAIV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to advocating on behalf of tribal veterans. Originally established in 2004, today the NAIV serves the needs of Native American veterans in all 50 states. The NAIV formed as a result of a request by former Senators Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.) during a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing in 2004.
“Native Americans have served our nation honorably in the Armed Forces – often times at higher rates than any other demographic,” said Luján. “I’m proud to introduce bipartisan legislation to create a Congressional Charter for the National American Indian Veterans Organization. NAIV is a crucial resource for Native veterans that delivers critical assistance and ensures that they have access to the benefits that they have earned. As a member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, I’ll continue fighting to fulfill the commitment our nation made to Native veterans.”
“Native Americans serve in our nation’s military at five times the national average, and this charter would give them the recognition they truly deserve and have earned,” said Rounds. “There are many congressionally-chartered veterans organizations, but none that solely represent the interests and needs of Native American veterans. Our bill would change that by recognizing the mission of the NAIV with a congressional charter. The NAIV works closely with Tribal Veterans Service Officers to make certain Native American veterans receive proper benefits and resources. Congress regularly looks to the NAIV for input when addressing issues facing Native American veterans. This charter will help give the NAIV a larger platform to continue advocating for and serving the more than 140,000 Native American veterans living in the United States.”
Companion legislation was introduced in the House by Representative Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), Sharice Davids (D-Kan.), Tom Cole (R-Okla.), Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.).