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VA Recognition as a Tribal Organization


Native Americans have been vital to the Armed Forces for more than 200 years. After serving, these Veterans need access to local representatives to help with benefits claims. Many do not have easy access to these services.

VA has regulations governing which organizations can help Veterans and survivors with their benefit claims. This used to be limited to federal, state, and local or regional organizations. As of March 2017, Tribal organizations may have similar recognition as state organizations. This allows Tribal organizations to help Veterans and survivors in their communities with claims.


We encourage Tribal organizations to seek formal recognition. This expands support to the Veterans in their communities. It also provides culturally appropriate support to Veterans where they live and keeps Veterans from driving great distances to seek help.


To qualify, Tribal organizations must:

  • Have a primary purpose of serving Veterans
  • Be primarily funded for the purpose of serving Veterans
  • Demonstrate significant service commitment to Veterans
  • Be capable of providing complete claims service
  • Provide written notice if limitations exist
  • Be proactive about training and monitoring representatives
  • Not accept payment for services
  • Be the only Tribal organization recognized for that Tribe

While we only recognize one organization per tribe, several tribes can create one organization and apply.

How to Apply

To request VA recognition, Tribal organizations must submit a letter to the Secretary of VA. This letter should address all qualifications, as set by VA.

Request letters must include:

  • An explanation of purpose
  • Identification of sponsoring Tribal governments
  • A description of services
  • An approximate number of Veterans and family members who will receive services
  • A statement that confirms whether the organization intends to represent claimants before VA regional offices and the Board of Veterans’ Appeals
  • A statement that the organization will not charge for services
  • A statement listing all documents included

Request letters must also include all necessary supporting documents. Review “A ‘How-To’ Guide for Requesting VA Recognition as a ‘Tribal Organization’” for the information you need to apply. You can also email the Office of Tribal Government Relations at or visit their website.