VINITA, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation and Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System recently signed an agreement to provide a VA clinic inside the tribe’s Vinita Health Center for area 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, Eastern Oklahoma Health Care System executive director.

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

“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,” Denning said.

“The Cherokee Nation and VA worked tirelessly when the closure of the VA health clinic in Vinita was announced in 2021,” said Chuck Hoskin, Jr., Cherokee Nation Chief. 

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

Cherokee Nation Communications Office

The Cherokee Nation Chief credits his father, former Vinita Mayor Chuck Hoskin and the local VA Leadership, with spearheading the effort to maintain a level of VA services to Vinita after the closure of the local VA health clinic was announced amidst VA expansion elsewhere in the region.

Hoskin said a VA Clinic positioned in the corner of our state ensures tribal needs are being met. 

Five Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System staff members 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 tribe will provide around 1,300 square feet of leased space for the VA Clinic, which will open in late December or January. The VA clinic will serve both American Indian veterans and veterans.

The tribe and VA will celebrate the partnership with an upcoming celebration for veterans and guests later this year.