Cherokee Nation, Eastern Oklahoma VA Sign Historic Agreement Enhancing Veteran Care

Choctaw Vinita Health Center
Five staff from the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System will be housed in the Vinita Health Center.

VINITA, OK – The Cherokee Nation and Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System recently signed a historic agreement to provide a VA clinic inside the tribe’s Vinita Health Center for area veterans. The tribe will provide 1,300 sq. ft. of leased space for the VA clinic, which is set to open around the new year. The VA clinic will serve both Native veterans and non-Native veterans in the region.

“The Cherokee Nation holds our veterans in the highest regard and believes in making access to health care a priority, especially for our warriors who bravely served this nation,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “By having a VA Clinic positioned in the corner of our state and tribal reservation, we know that we are helping ensure that need is met and will make it easier for many veterans.”

The Cherokee Nation partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs made the venture possible and could be a roadmap for how rural America works hand in hand with tribes to provide the best care possible for all veterans.

“For the first time in the Eastern Oklahoma Health Care System history, we are expanding access to health care in partnership within a tribal health care system,” said Dr. Kimberly Denning, Executive Director of the Eastern Oklahoma Health Care System. “As the veteran and tribal population in Eastern Oklahoma continues to grow, this meaningful partnership with Cherokee Nation will enable Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System to meet their needs.”

Five staff from the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System will be housed in the Vinita Health Center. The VA clinic will also include a waiting area, exam rooms, work areas, parking and will work hand in hand with the Vinita Health Center to accomplish lab and x-ray services for seamless care.

“The Cherokee Nation and VA worked tirelessly when the closure of the VA health clinic in Vinita was announced in 2021,” said Chief Hoskin. “I knew that my father, as the mayor, as a former state and tribal official and above all as a Navy veteran, would exhaust every effort to engage the VA on this issue. He found that the VA with the current Medical Center Director, Dr. Denning, was willing to listen and willing to explore a unique partnership, which is the reason we reached this historic agreement.”