Cherokee Nation, Veteran Affairs Open VA Clinic

Cherokee Vinita VA Clinic

VINITA, OK – Through a historic partnership, the Cherokee Nation and U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System have opened a VA Clinic inside the tribe’s Vinita Health Center. The 1,300 sq. ft. of leased space with a VA Primary Care Team, serves both Native and non-Native veterans in the region.

“Today marks a significant moment for the Cherokee Nation and the VA coming together, finding solutions for veteran care and creating a roadmap for how rural America can work hand-in-hand with tribes to serve as a model for others across the state,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.  “We hold all veterans in the highest regard, and every day we strive to ensure they have the services they need within reach, which they now have within the doors of the Vinita Health Center thanks to this historic partnership.”

The VA clinic includes a waiting area, exam rooms, work areas, and parking and will work with the tribe’s Vinita Health Center to accomplish lab and x-ray services for seamless care.

“This first of its kind VA healthcare facility is a testament to our partnership with Cherokee Nation and our commitment to providing exceptional care to veterans,” said Dr. Kimberly Denning, Executive Director of the Eastern Oklahoma Health Care System. “This clinic will not only address the immediate healthcare needs of veterans, but also foster a culture of preventative care and well-being.”

When the closure of the former VA health clinic in Vinita was announced in 2021, the Cherokee Nation and VA quickly engaged to find a solution and close the gap. Former Vinita Mayor Chuck Hoskin, a Navy veteran, engaged with Denning and Assistant Directors Eugene Schmidt and Greg Norton who were willing to explore the unique partnership to ensure VA services were maintained in the area.

“As a veteran and a lifelong resident of Vinita, I know how important it is for Veterans to have access to healthcare close to home,” said Chuck Hoskin, former Vinita Mayor. “I’m grateful for the work of Chief Hoskin, Deputy Chief Bryan Warner, Deputy Speaker of the Council Victoria Vazquez and Cherokee Nation Secretary of Veterans Affairs S. Joe Crittenden, and the forward-thinking VA leadership Dr. Denning and Assistant Directors Eugene Schmidt and Greg Norton, to make this historic tribal-federal partnership a reality. I appreciate all of the expansion and modernization efforts VA is undertaking, but it is particularly meaningful to me that they were willing to find a way to keep a presence in Vinita.”

The Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System serves about 53,000 veterans. The new Vinita VA clinic is one of five outpatient clinics operated by the VA. 

“The Cherokee Nation continues to expand services for our Cherokee Warriors and to ensure veterans have access to overall wellness – mind, body and spirit – through the efforts of our Office of Veterans Affairs and other tribal departments,” said Cherokee Deputy Chief Bryan Warner. “The men and women who have served this country and their tribal Nation deserve the best care possible. The Cherokee Nation and VA share this mission of caring for our Veterans, and this collaboration is a great example of how we are doing that in the spirit of Gadugi, by working together.”