OKMULGEE, Okla.- On Friday, Sept 22 the Muscogee (Creek) Nation hosted an event for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs at the Mvskoke Dome. The event was part of the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act (PACT) that expanded veterans’ healthcare and benefits.
The PACT act expansion was the largest in VA history, and specifically addressed the comprehensive damage caused by exposure to burn pits, Agent Orange, or other toxins while in the military.
During the event veterans were able to speak to representatives about claims and VA benefits one on one, and receive VHA toxic health screens. Screenings included questions about possible exposures and information about registry exams. Screenings can take anywhere from five-30 minutes.
Medical examinations were also available in a mobile medical unit. Services the unit offers are numerous and include basic X-rays, lab draws, EKGs, pulmonary function tests, dental exams and audiology screenings. These tests and services are then sent to the VA so that veterans can access them, as they would from their primary doctor. Processing time varies, but the unit’s turn around time can be as soon as the next day for radiology, labs can take up to 72 hours.
Mary Culley (Seminole/Creek), Regional Specialist with the VA’s Office of Tribal Government Relations, stressed the importance of female veterans getting their toxin screening and stated,
“We’re finding a lot of our Indian women when we go through the toxic screens, because you don’t think about it, because it’s just been a part of your daily life in the military, that they may have been exposed to bomb blasts. And that could be now what’s causing migraines, what’s causing aneurysms in the back of the head, not knowing where they got that from, so that’s coming up as part of the toxic screens when we come across females that had been exposed in some of those deployments areas.”
Culley also encouraged widows to apply for benefits, and emphasized the comprehensive expansion of the PACT act.
“It is important is for our widows to understand this also benefits them… even though their spouse passed away, say it’s Vietnam Vet and they may have been exposed to Agent Orange, just because back then their claim may have been denied because it may not have been an approved health related issues for that toxin, it could be now, because there’s 20 new additional health disparities associated with all these different toxins. And we’ve been finding widows and getting their widows compensation approved.” Culley said.
The event also offered other services in addition to the health screenings. Veterans could get their VA ID cards, connect with combat counseling services, and speak to representatives with the Social Security and Disability Administration. Also at the event were representatives from Veterans Upward Bound, an organization that helps veterans with college applications, funding, and support.
For any veteran or widow who missed the PACT event at the Mvskoke Dome, there are future events scheduled across eastern Oklahoma listed below.
Red Rock, Oklahoma
Hosted by the Otoe Missouria Tribe
Oct 11 & 12
Hosted by the Osage Nation
Hosted by the Choctaw Nation
For more information about PACT Act events, VA disability claims, or the mobile medical unit, contact Mary Culley at email@example.com or 405-626-3426.
For a guide to the PACT Act and VA benefits go to: PACT Act and Your Benefits