Center for Minority Veterans strives to ensure equal access to care

Center for Minority Veterans strives to ensure equal access to care

Of today’s 19 million living veterans, recent statistics show racial and ethnic minority veterans represent nearly 22% of the veteran population with the number expected to rise to 35% by 2040.

While the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has made major strides in recent years to address the changing demographics in the veteran community, several key issues still face shortfalls.

The Center for Minority Veterans (CMV) was established in 1994 along with the Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans (ACMV) to address these shortfalls. Serving as the chief adviser to the Secretary of VA on the adoption and implementation of policies and programs affecting minority veterans, the CMV addresses the needs of Blacks, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans (American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians), Pacific Islanders, and women veterans who are minority group members.

Veterans often face difficulties accessing information and understanding the eligibility requirements and scope of services available to them. This information gap is acutely felt among minority veterans. Problems with outreach and trust among minority veterans seeking care through the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) often persists as a barrier to care.

Through the use of VA programs, benefits, and services for minority veterans, the CMV strives to educate veterans, their families and survivors through targeted outreach and effective advocacy. This includes providing information and culturally relevant programs to enhance veteran-centric services to minority programs, according to VA.

Another area impacted by inequity in care for racial and ethnic minority veterans involves clinical outcomes. Many clinical outcomes have significant racial gaps in data collected for conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular events, diabetes, and labor and delivery. The ACMV is working to close this gap by providing a biannual report to the VA secretary outlining recommendations, concerns and observations on VA’s delivery of services to minority veterans.

In October 2020, The American Legion’s National Executive Committee passed Resolution No. 6: Minority Veterans. This resolution urges VA to ensure that the health-care needs of all current and future minority veterans are met and increase the amount of outreach to minority veterans through awareness campaigns, benefits education and community organization. Additionally, the resolution states that VA must continue research that identifies causes of disparities in the health and care of minority veterans’ and as evidence-based treatments develop, provide interventions to reduce these disparities.

For more information about the Center for Minority Veterans, visit its website.