Assistant Secretary Washburn Announces New Initiative to Hire More American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans to Work for Indian Affairs

Source: Office of the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On the heels of President Obama’s historic visit yesterday to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of North and South Dakota, Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn today announced the implementation of a new initiative to hire more American Indian and Alaska Native veterans to work for Indian Affairs.

In building a 21st century workforce, we recognize the importance of attracting and retaining veterans in this organization,” said Assistant Secretary Washburn. “Individuals who have served in the Armed Forces have a proven track record for integrity, discipline and leadership, and are highly qualified candidates in a variety of occupations throughout Indian Affairs.”

To achieve the goal of hiring more American Indian and Alaska Native veterans throughout Indian Affairs offices and bureaus, Washburn announced plans to increase the number of Indian veterans hired from the current rate of 9 percent to 12.5 percent.

Indian Affairs bureaus, regional offices and agencies provide a wide range of direct services to American Indian and Alaska Natives and already utilize an Indian Preference policy in hiring. Nearly 100 percent of the positions in the Office of the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Education are staffed with American Indian and Alaska Native employees through Indian Preference. Indian Affairs officials are interested in hiring veterans prior to their discharge from the Armed Forces and are actively seeking members of the National Guard and reserves who are looking for careers that serve Indian Country.

Steps that will be taken to achieve the new initiative include:

  • Increasing participation in job fairs targeting veterans;
  • Establishing a presence on the website to highlight success stories of veterans already working in Indian Affairs;
  • Utilizing social media such as Facebook and Twitter to promote accomplishments of veterans in Indian Affairs and alert prospects of the availability of open positions;
  • Leveraging resources with other DOI agencies that have been successful in recruiting veterans to develop new strategies for attracting veterans to employment opportunities within Indian Affairs;
  • Working with local veterans groups, especially Native American veterans groups, in the field to publish employment opportunities with Indian Affairs;
  • Using the website to highlight positions of interest to veterans that will utilize their skills gained in military service; and
  • Developing a Senior Executive Service (SES) performance element targeting increases in veteran hires in positions within Indian Affairs offices and bureaus.

For more information about the DOI Indian Affairs’ hire the American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans Initiative, please visit our website at or call:

Nancy Nelson, Human Resources Specialist, Indian Affairs Office of Human Capital Management, at (202) 208-6175.

The Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs assists and supports the Secretary of the Interior in fulfilling the United States’ trust responsibility to the federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes, villages and individual trust beneficiaries. The Office of Human Capital Management (OHCM) oversees human resources management, policy and operations for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Indian Educationand the Assistant Secretary  Indian Affairs. The Office of Human Capital Management reports to the Deputy Assistant Secretary Indian Affairs – Management within the Office of the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs.

Not all Native American Veterans able to get adequate care

By Monica Brown, Tulalip News Writer

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released a comprehensive report in September 2012, of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) veterans.  There are over 154,000 AI/AN veterans in the U.S. with over 6,000 in Washington state.

“American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) Veterans have played a vital role in the United States military for over two hundred years. Recognizing their long history of distinguished service, this report seeks to provide comprehensive statistics on this important cohort of Veterans through an examination of AIAN Active Duty, Reserve, and National Guard data together with demographic, socioeconomic, and health status statistics for AIAN Veteran, “states the U.S. dept of veteran affairs.

Native Americans serve in the U.S. Armed Forces at a higher rate per capita than any other ethnic group and have had more female servicemembers than any other group of servicemembers.  The report, titled “American Indian and Alaska Servicemembers and Veterans,” shows that  AI/AN alos have higher unemployment rates and aren’t recieving health care.

The Veterans Health Administration Office of rural Health states, “Native Veterans face many challenges to receiving adequate care. These challenges include long distances to care with few transportation resources and limited access to specialty care. Rural Native Veterans must sort out an often confusing mix of local and federal health care providers with overlapping and sometimes inconsistent coverage across Native, local, state, and federal levels. Frequently, Native practices in health and healing are not well-integrated into care they receive from clinics or hospitals. Finally, rural Native Veterans often are among the most impoverished with little access to training opportunities and few viable prospects for employment—all factors which are closely tied to poor health outcomes,”

US Census Bureau populations
US Census Bureau populations

Here are some statistics from the study:

The unemployment rate of AI/AN vets is 7.1%

The unemployment rate for vets of all other races is 4.9%


15.3% of AI/AN vets who do not have health insurance

6.3%of vets of all other races who do not have health insurance


36.4% AI/AN vets who suffer from one or more disability

26.2% of vets of all other races who suffer from one or more disability


18.9% AI/AN vets who have a service-connected disability rating

15.6% of vets of all other races who have a service-connected disability rating