Smoke signals. (Grand Ronde, Or.) 19??-current, July 15, 2012, Page 5, Image 5

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    Smoke Signals 5
JULY 15, 2012
VA holds Tribal Government Relations event
By Ron Karten
Smoke Signals staff writer
The U.S. Department of Veterans
Affairs' Office of Tribal Government
Relations held its second West
ern Region Conference at Spirit
Mountain Casino on Tuesday and
Wednesday, July 10-11.
Helping coordinate the confer
ence on the Grand Ronde end was
Member Services Specialist Reina
Nelson, who said that the goal
of the conference was "creating
awareness to Tribal veterans and
facilitators of the programs avail
able from all four legs of Veterans
Affairs." Those legs are: Veterans
Benefits Administration, National
Cemetery Administration, VA
Health Care and Veterans Housing
Oregon Department of Veterans
Affairs Director Jim Willis put the
goal of the conference another way:
"To collaborate, educate and net
work to serve this population."
In welcoming the crowd that
came from the Western Region's six
states of Oregon, Washington, Ida
ho, Nevada, California and Alaska,
Grand Ronde Vice Chairman Reyn
Leno, a Vietnam War-era Marine
veteran, said, "One of the biggest
things, I always have to think, is
for veterans to tell you their needs.
They won't tell you until they need
it bad. (Overcoming that resistance)
will be your hardest job."
Michelle Cooper, a Tribal member
and Iraq veteran living in Corval
lis, came "to learn about benefits
and what's available" in terms of
vocational rehabilitation, housing,
mental health and other services.
"I think the VA is really compli
cated to the average veteran," she
said. "A lot of vets don't have any
clue what's available to them."
For Louis Bickford, an Ojibwe
veteran from California, the two
government-to-government confer
ences held so far have been "invalu
able," he said.
"It brings together all the re
sources we need; more than just VA
compensation pension and health
care, but also Social Security SAM
SHA (Substance Abuse and Mental
Health Services Administration),
and county and state programs."
Bickford is founder and volunteer
director of the National First Na-
'- ! i - ' .,:.ss3sraiuMi
Photo by Michelle Alaimo
Tribal Vic Chair Reyn Leno gives a welcome speech at the U.S. Department
of Veterans Affairs' Office of Tribal Government Relations second Western
Region Conference at Spirit Mountain Casino on Tuesday, July 1 0.
tions Veteran Service Organisa
tion. The two-day program included
workshops on many veteran issues,
including disability, success stories,
health care and homelessness, as
well as a session on understanding
American Indian worldviews.
Led by Seattle Indian Health
Board's Annette Squetimkin-An-quoe,
a Colville Indian who leads
the Washington Urban Indian To
bacco Prevention and Control Co
alition, the session described "what
it means for us to be in balance, in
health and able to heal."
Also in attendance was Mark
Johnston, director of the Tribe's
Health & Wellness Clinic, who was
on hand because "the Tribe and
the local VA have been working on
an agreement for three months,"
he said. "The agreement is part of
the Affordable Care Act requiring
the VA to negotiate agreements
with Tribes to reimburse them for
health care services provided at
Tribal clinics for eligible veterans.
Ultimately, the agreement should
create better access to health care
services to all eligible veterans and
provide added revenues for the
CTGR Health and Wellness Center
that can be used to enhance the
health care services we provide."
The concept of the Veterans Af
fairs' Office of Tribal Government
Relations began with an executive
order in 2000 from President Bill
Clinton, but the office did not exist
until the Obama administration
ordered it in 2009.
Posting the colors was a Grand
Ronde Honor Guard, including
Tribal Elder Gene LaBonte, La
Bonte's cousin Ronda Metcalf, who
is a project director for the North
west Portland Area Indian Health
Board, and veterans Bob Duncan
and Al Miller.
"It just isn't a matter of honoring
vets one day," said Leno. "We have
to honor them every day." U
r, ' V
P ' -J" I- Jt'
Clockwise from left. Tribal Elder Wink Soderberg, Reina Nelson, Tribal Member Services specialist, and Michelle
Cooper attended the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Office of Tribal Government Relations second Western
Region Conference at Spirit Mountain Casino on Tuesday, July 1 0. Also in attendance was Tribal Vice Chair Reyn Leno,
front. Soderberg, Cooper and Leno are veterans and Nelson helped coordinate the conference.
Lamprey harvest lasts until July 31
Are you an enrolled Tribal member interested in harvesting lamprey
for personal use? The state Department of Fish and Wildlife has an
nounced the 2012 harvesting schedule for lamprey on the east side of
Willamette Falls. Enrolled Tribal members may harvest lamprey for
their personal use between June 1 and July 31, 2012, while following
established guidelines. Contact the Natural Resources Department at
47010 S.W. Hebo Road in Grand Ronde or call 503-879-2424 for more
information and specifics.
Youth Center seeks volunteers
The Tina Miller Community Center Thrift Store, 110 B. St., Willamina,
which helps fund the after-school and weekend youth community center located
in the old high school gym, is seeking volunteers who can help run the store,
in addition to donated items and customers. The store accepts clothes, books,
knickknacks, etc., as donations. It is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through
Saturday and closed on Sunday and Monday. Donations also can be left at
the Wildwood Hotel and Restaurant in Willamina. For more information on
volunteering, call 503-876-7897. The youth center and thrift store that funds
it are nonprofit and 100 percent self-sustaining and volunteer-run.
Bernando teaches Wawa in Portland
Tribal member Eric Bernando teaches weekly Chinuk Wawa language
classes from 5:30 to 8:20 p.m. Wednesdays at the Portland office, 4445
S.W. Barbur Blvd., Suite 101.
For more information, contact Bernando at
or at 503-709-3017. D
for Tribal members
The Portland Office has transportation
day to Grand Ronde once a month for
medical, dental appointments or
enrollment cards. We need a minimum
of 3 people to sign up. Please call Lisaj
t If.;
" f : r I
Please call in advance for the scheduled monthly date
Ad created by George Valdez