Tester Statement on Appointment of Montana’s Chauncey Parker to VA’s Advisory Committee on Tribal and Indian Affairs

Senator nominated Parker to serve on Committee established by his law to improve VA’s outreach to Native American veterans in Montana

(U.S. Senate) – Following his efforts, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today released the following statement after the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) appointed Chauncey Parker to serve on the Advisory Committee on Tribal and Indian Affairs to improve support and outreach for Native American veterans in Montana:

“Mr. Parker has shown a strong commitment to serving veterans living in Indian Country, and I couldn’t be prouder to have nominated him to this important position. Native Americans serve our nation in uniform at one of the highest rates, and the VA Tribal Advisory Committee is a critical tool in helping us take better care of these folks when they return home. I look forward to working with Mr. Parker to deliver Montana veterans the care, benefits, and respect they’ve earned.”

In his capacity as Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Tester submitted a nomination package last year to VA Secretary Denis McDonough and urged him to appoint Chauncey Parker to the VA Advisory Committee on Tribal and Indian Affairs to represent veterans in the Billings Indian Health Service region, which covers all of Montana and Wyoming. The Committee was established by Tester’s VA Tribal Advisory Committee Act, which was signed into law in 2021 as part of an end-of-year package to better address the needs of Native veterans nationwide.

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

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. In 2021, Tester led his Committee colleagues in successfully securing a law to eliminate copayments for Native veterans accessing VA health care as part of a comprehensive end-of-year bill. The Senator also fought to secure his American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans Mental Health Act as part of the an omnibus federal funding package last December to deliver tailored outreach and culturally competent mental health care to Native veterans. He is also continuing his push this year to pass his Native American Direct Loan Improvement Act to help Native American veterans achieve homeownership.