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Congressman Tom Cole

Representing the 4th District of Oklahoma

Cole Joins Bipartisan Group to Introduce Legislation to Construct Veteran Nursing Homes on Tribal Lands

September 26, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C.  Today, Congressmen Tom Cole (OK-04), Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) and Ruben Gallego (AZ-07) re-introduced the bipartisan Nursing Home Care for Native American Veterans Act, legislation to encourage the construction of veteran nursing care homes on tribal lands by closing a loophole that prevents them from receiving federal construction and operations grant money. 

Tribal lands are excluded from a current law that provides a 65 percent construction reimbursement and per diem to veteran nursing care homes built on land owned by states, territories, or land the United States possesses. As a result, there are currently no veteran nursing homes located on tribal lands.

“In the long history of American arms, no racial or ethnic group has fought against, with and for the United States as much as Native Americans. That is still true today. A higher percentage of Native Americans enlist in the United States military than those from any other racial or ethnic group. I am proud to join my fellow Members of Congress to introduce legislation ensuring that Native veterans receive the benefits they have earned through their selfless service to our country,” said Cole.

“Native Americans serve in our armed forces in greater numbers per capita than any other ethnic group; they deserve access to the highest quality care when they return home. Due to the unique and often remote nature of tribal communities, Native American veterans experience restricted access to affordable care near their families and cultural support systems,” said O’Halleran. “Today, I am proud to re-introduce this important bill that will ensure veterans on tribal lands can access quality care close to home.” 

“American Indians and Alaska Natives have long gone above and beyond the call of duty in service to our country. These veterans deserve access to the full benefits they’ve earned no matter where they reside, which is why I’m proud to support this bill to make sure Tribal Nursing Homes receive the resources they need to care for our nation’s heroes,” said Gallego, Chair of the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples. 

Senate companion legislation was introduced by Senators Sinema (D-AZ) and Cramer (R-ND). The legislation is supported by the Navajo Nation, the Inter Tribal Association of Arizona, the National Congress of American Indians, and the National Indian Health Board.

Text of the bill is available here.

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