Linking American Indian Communities With Veteran Services

1697 words (7 pages) Essay

19th Jun 2018 Cultural Studies Reference this

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  • Richard Downs

I’m choosing to focus on helping to inform Minnesota American Indian Veterans on their opportunities for higher education and to help increase educational attainment rates, completion rates, and self-efficacy. I think it is important to raise awareness on the unique barriers faced by American Indian Veterans, especially those who live outside the metropolitan area or on reservations.

Veterans are a very important part of American Indian communities. They are highly regarded, and honored in many different ways. Serving in the military is common and highly regarded in the American Indian community. “Native Americans have the highest record of service per capita when compared to other ethnic groups” (defense.gov). During powwows, veterans carrying eagle feather staffs, tribal flags, the American flag, as wells as flags representing all branches of the military are the first dancers in the arena. After the first Grand Entry song, a flag song is sung, which is comparable to the Star Spangled Banner, followed by a victory song honoring the veterans. At community events, veterans do not get their own meals; rather other community members serve them.

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There are benefits and services available to American Indian veterans. Currently, tribal veteran service officers visit reservations in Minnesota on a monthly basis. For example, in the Upper Sioux community, veterans learn about the visits via monthly newsletters. The veterans who attend enjoy a lunch, and the representative meets with them during this time about any concerns or needs they have. This also occurs in the Twin Cities urban area. These representatives are beneficial in that they connect American Indian veterans to services and resources that they might need. However, not everyone who is eligible takes advantages of these services. Veterans may be disconnected either by communication or location and therefore not be aware of these opportunities. They may live in rural areas, but not near their home reservation. Another barrier may be lack of information. They may hear about these services, but not know everything that is available and do not attend, because they think it may not be beneficial to them. Some veterans may be aware of these opportunities and want to utilize them, but not be able to attend, possibly due to lack of transportation or funds. Some reservations such as the Upper Sioux Community have transportation services available for its members, but not all reservations may be able to offer this.

A combinatorial organization may be beneficial in linking American Indian communities with veteran services. This model has successfully worked in other areas. For example, the American Indian Cancer Foundation implements programming work to lower the burdens of cancer in American Indian communities. Many times, funding for these programs comes from grants from the government, such as the Centers for Disease Control. The CDC would be unable to implement programs directly to American Indian communities for many reasons, including knowledge of the communities and cultural competency, and lack of the trust in the government by Americans Indians. A linking organization, like AICAF, is necessary, because they have expertise working with and in American Indian communities, as well as extensive education and experience with public health. American Indians are more likely to participate in programs when they are familiar with the people implementing them and can relate to them. Using such a non-profit organization might be the answer to preventing American Indians from falling through the cracks and helping them to overcome life’s obstacles or barriers that cause them to either abstain from participating in educational degree programs or to complete them. In this approach to prevention, the purpose will be to devise a way to build collaborations between multi-cultural student departments, in conjunction with student-veteran offices at college/universities and link them directly to state and federal veteran liaisons or departments, while at the same time keeping in sync with the veteran’s community or tribal affiliation. Moreover, with suicide and substance abuse being major problems in the American Indian community, not to mention similar issues in the diverse aggregate veteran community, feelings of well-being will also likely increase as a result of such a program being successful.

A combination of websites, both private and government, such as the United States Census Bureau, will be used to obtain statistics and some background information. A multitude of books will be used to better understand the mindset and culture of American Indians such as Fixico’s (2003), “The American Indian mind in a linear world: American Indian studies & traditional knowledge”, whereas books like Bandura’s (1997) “Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control” will be used to understand veterans self-efficacy. The class’s text books will be used along with Kettner, Moroney, & Martin’s (2008) Designing and Managing Programs: An Effectiveness-based approach.” Additionally, relevant material from peer reviewed journals will be introduced and used to support the research.

References

Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York, NY: W. H. Freeman and Company.

Barsh, R. L. (2001). American Mosaic: Social Conflict and Cultural Contract in the Twentieth Century. Journal of American Studies, 35(3), 371-411. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.metrostate.edu/stable/pdfplus/27557003.pdf

Bureau of Labor Statistics US Department of Labor. (2014). The employment situation — December 2014. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf

Cohen, L., Chavez, V., & Chehimi, S. (2010). Prevention is primary: Strategies for community well-being (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

Conyne, R. K. (2008). Prevention program development and evaluation: An incidence reduction, culturally relevant approach. Las Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC: Sage.

Data.gov. (n.d.). Education. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.data.gov/education/

Data.gov. (n.d.). Inventory. (2014). Retrieved from https://inventory.data.gov/dataset/032e19b4-5a90-41dc-83ff-6e4cd234f565/resource/38625c3d-5388-4c16-a30f-d105432553a4

Fixico, D. L. (2003). The American Indian mind in a linear world: American Indian studies & traditional knowledge. New York, NY: Routledge.

Kettner, P. M., Moroney, R. M., & Martin, L. L. (2008). Designing and managing programs: An effectiveness-based approach (3rd ed.). Las Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore: Sage.

Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.minnesotaveteran.org & http://www.mn.gov/mdva

Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs: Tribal Veterans Service Officers. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.mnveteranservice.org/maps/tvso/index.html

National Congress of American Indians. (2014). Education. Retrieved from http://www.ncai.org/policy-issues/education-health-human-services/education

National Native Veterans Association. (2011). The voice of the Native American Veteran. Retrieved from http://www.nnava.org/

Reyhner, J. & Eder, J. (2004). American Indian education: A history. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.

United States Census Bureau. (2014). Education. Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/geo/education/

United States Department of Veterans Affairs. (n.d.). Education and training. Retrieved from http://benefits.va.gov/gibill/school_resources.asp

United States Department of Veterans Affairs. (2014). National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.va.gov/vetdata/Report.asp

U.S. Department of Defense. (n.d.). American Heritage Month: 20th Century Warriors: Native American Participation in the United States Military. Retrieved from http://www.defense.gov/specials/nativeamerican01/warrior.html

Westermeyer J, Canive J, Thuras P, Thompson J, Crosby R, & Garrard J. (2009). A Comparison of Substance Use Disorder Severity and Course in American Indian Male and Female Veterans.American Journal on Addictions, 18(1), 87-92. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.metrostate.edu/stable/pdfplus/27557003.pdf

  • Richard Downs

I’m choosing to focus on helping to inform Minnesota American Indian Veterans on their opportunities for higher education and to help increase educational attainment rates, completion rates, and self-efficacy. I think it is important to raise awareness on the unique barriers faced by American Indian Veterans, especially those who live outside the metropolitan area or on reservations.

Veterans are a very important part of American Indian communities. They are highly regarded, and honored in many different ways. Serving in the military is common and highly regarded in the American Indian community. “Native Americans have the highest record of service per capita when compared to other ethnic groups” (defense.gov). During powwows, veterans carrying eagle feather staffs, tribal flags, the American flag, as wells as flags representing all branches of the military are the first dancers in the arena. After the first Grand Entry song, a flag song is sung, which is comparable to the Star Spangled Banner, followed by a victory song honoring the veterans. At community events, veterans do not get their own meals; rather other community members serve them.

There are benefits and services available to American Indian veterans. Currently, tribal veteran service officers visit reservations in Minnesota on a monthly basis. For example, in the Upper Sioux community, veterans learn about the visits via monthly newsletters. The veterans who attend enjoy a lunch, and the representative meets with them during this time about any concerns or needs they have. This also occurs in the Twin Cities urban area. These representatives are beneficial in that they connect American Indian veterans to services and resources that they might need. However, not everyone who is eligible takes advantages of these services. Veterans may be disconnected either by communication or location and therefore not be aware of these opportunities. They may live in rural areas, but not near their home reservation. Another barrier may be lack of information. They may hear about these services, but not know everything that is available and do not attend, because they think it may not be beneficial to them. Some veterans may be aware of these opportunities and want to utilize them, but not be able to attend, possibly due to lack of transportation or funds. Some reservations such as the Upper Sioux Community have transportation services available for its members, but not all reservations may be able to offer this.

A combinatorial organization may be beneficial in linking American Indian communities with veteran services. This model has successfully worked in other areas. For example, the American Indian Cancer Foundation implements programming work to lower the burdens of cancer in American Indian communities. Many times, funding for these programs comes from grants from the government, such as the Centers for Disease Control. The CDC would be unable to implement programs directly to American Indian communities for many reasons, including knowledge of the communities and cultural competency, and lack of the trust in the government by Americans Indians. A linking organization, like AICAF, is necessary, because they have expertise working with and in American Indian communities, as well as extensive education and experience with public health. American Indians are more likely to participate in programs when they are familiar with the people implementing them and can relate to them. Using such a non-profit organization might be the answer to preventing American Indians from falling through the cracks and helping them to overcome life’s obstacles or barriers that cause them to either abstain from participating in educational degree programs or to complete them. In this approach to prevention, the purpose will be to devise a way to build collaborations between multi-cultural student departments, in conjunction with student-veteran offices at college/universities and link them directly to state and federal veteran liaisons or departments, while at the same time keeping in sync with the veteran’s community or tribal affiliation. Moreover, with suicide and substance abuse being major problems in the American Indian community, not to mention similar issues in the diverse aggregate veteran community, feelings of well-being will also likely increase as a result of such a program being successful.

A combination of websites, both private and government, such as the United States Census Bureau, will be used to obtain statistics and some background information. A multitude of books will be used to better understand the mindset and culture of American Indians such as Fixico’s (2003), “The American Indian mind in a linear world: American Indian studies & traditional knowledge”, whereas books like Bandura’s (1997) “Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control” will be used to understand veterans self-efficacy. The class’s text books will be used along with Kettner, Moroney, & Martin’s (2008) Designing and Managing Programs: An Effectiveness-based approach.” Additionally, relevant material from peer reviewed journals will be introduced and used to support the research.

References

Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York, NY: W. H. Freeman and Company.

Barsh, R. L. (2001). American Mosaic: Social Conflict and Cultural Contract in the Twentieth Century. Journal of American Studies, 35(3), 371-411. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.metrostate.edu/stable/pdfplus/27557003.pdf

Bureau of Labor Statistics US Department of Labor. (2014). The employment situation — December 2014. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf

Cohen, L., Chavez, V., & Chehimi, S. (2010). Prevention is primary: Strategies for community well-being (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

Conyne, R. K. (2008). Prevention program development and evaluation: An incidence reduction, culturally relevant approach. Las Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC: Sage.

Data.gov. (n.d.). Education. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.data.gov/education/

Data.gov. (n.d.). Inventory. (2014). Retrieved from https://inventory.data.gov/dataset/032e19b4-5a90-41dc-83ff-6e4cd234f565/resource/38625c3d-5388-4c16-a30f-d105432553a4

Fixico, D. L. (2003). The American Indian mind in a linear world: American Indian studies & traditional knowledge. New York, NY: Routledge.

Kettner, P. M., Moroney, R. M., & Martin, L. L. (2008). Designing and managing programs: An effectiveness-based approach (3rd ed.). Las Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore: Sage.

Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.minnesotaveteran.org & http://www.mn.gov/mdva

Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs: Tribal Veterans Service Officers. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.mnveteranservice.org/maps/tvso/index.html

National Congress of American Indians. (2014). Education. Retrieved from http://www.ncai.org/policy-issues/education-health-human-services/education

National Native Veterans Association. (2011). The voice of the Native American Veteran. Retrieved from http://www.nnava.org/

Reyhner, J. & Eder, J. (2004). American Indian education: A history. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.

United States Census Bureau. (2014). Education. Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/geo/education/

United States Department of Veterans Affairs. (n.d.). Education and training. Retrieved from http://benefits.va.gov/gibill/school_resources.asp

United States Department of Veterans Affairs. (2014). National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.va.gov/vetdata/Report.asp

U.S. Department of Defense. (n.d.). American Heritage Month: 20th Century Warriors: Native American Participation in the United States Military. Retrieved from http://www.defense.gov/specials/nativeamerican01/warrior.html

Westermeyer J, Canive J, Thuras P, Thompson J, Crosby R, & Garrard J. (2009). A Comparison of Substance Use Disorder Severity and Course in American Indian Male and Female Veterans.American Journal on Addictions, 18(1), 87-92. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.metrostate.edu/stable/pdfplus/27557003.pdf

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