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Indigenous Veterans Oral Health Week

Inclusivity in Action: Indigenous Veterans Oral Health & Wellbeing

November 13-17, 2023

Hosted by: The American Institute of Dental Public Health
In Partnership with:
Southern Tribal Plains Health Board, Native Oral Health Network  

Indigenous Veteran Oral Health Week is a vital step towards recognizing and addressing oral health disparities while celebrating the contribution of Indigenous veterans to our nation’s history. Join us during this week as we elevate community voices and action for Indigenous veterans. The Southern Plains Tribal Health Board (SPTHB) and the Native Oral Health Network (NOHN) in partnership with the American Institute of Dental Public Health (AIDPH) are hosting this week dedicated to raising awareness, promoting culturally responsive care, and advocating for improved oral health for Indigenous veterans. We’re hosting a webinar as part of the week’s activities on November 17th at 1:00 pm CT, register here today.

The full-color horizontal version of the NOHN logo.

A Legacy of Service

Indigenous people have a long history of service to the United States, spanning over two centuries. Their commitment to protecting the nation has remained steadfast through both peacetime and war. Today, there are over 24,000 active duty American Indian and Alaskan Native service members and more than 183,000 veterans proudly identify as Indigenous. In fact, Indigenous people have served with distinction in every major conflict, from the Revolutionary War to the present day, and serve in the US Armed Services at a higher rate than any other group.


  1. Raise Awareness: Inform the public, healthcare providers, oral health professionals, and Indigenous communities about the unique oral health needs and challenges faced by Indigenous veterans. This includes highlighting the disparities in oral health outcomes within this community. 
  2. Promote Culturally Responsive Care: The week seeks to emphasize the importance of providing oral health care that respects and integrates Indigenous cultural values, practices, and preferences. Primary activities include educating oral health providers on the specific needs of Indigenous veterans and encouraging them to adopt culturally responsive and humble approaches in their practice. 
  3. Advocate for Improved Oral Health: Indigenous Veterans Oral Health Awareness Week serves as a platform for advocacy. It aims to mobilize individuals, organizations, and communities to take action to address the disparities in oral health care faced by Indigenous veterans. Advocating for expanded access to care, increased funding for IHS, and greater support for oral health initiatives specifically tailored to this population.

The Week in Review:

Honoring Indigenous Veterans

Begin the week by acknowledging and honoring the service and sacrifices of Indigenous veterans. Share stories, photos, and testimonials from Indigenous veterans. Highlight their contribution to the nation and their unique oral health needs. 

We encourage you to share stories and photos of Indigenous veterans in their communities.

Cultural Responsiveness for Oral Health Providers

Focus on the importance of cultural responsiveness and humility in oral health care. Highlight how oral health providers can better understand and address the unique cultural needs of Indigenous veterans to provide effective care. 

We encourage oral health providers to commit to cultural training and share their experiences or insights. 

Understanding Indigenous Veterans’ Oral Health Needs

Dive deeper into the oral health needs of Indigenous veterans. Discuss common issues and challenges they face, such as access to care, trauma-informed care, and oral health disparities. Share the lack of data and available resources to fully define the need and informed interventions. 

Our goal is to have improved research, data, and funding to support Indigenous veterans and their oral health.

Intersecting Healthcare Needs for Veterans & Indigenous People

Emphasize the importance of providing care that is centered around the unique needs and experiences of veterans, including Indigenous veterans. Explore the role of specialized oral health clinics for veterans, including those that cater specifically to Indigenous veterans. Discuss the benefits and challenges of such clinics. 

We encourage healthcare providers to undergo training in veteran-centered care and pledge to prioritize the needs of veterans in their practice.

Advocacy in Action

Join our webinar where a panel will explore the issue of oral health disparities among Indigenous veterans while sharing resources, stories, and the historical context of Indigenous military service. Through engaging dialogue and shared insights, attendees will gain perspective in supporting the oral health and well-being of Indigenous veterans and understand actionable next steps toward advancing oral health equity. Grassroots efforts and community-driven initiatives that aim to improve Indigenous veterans’ oral health. Discuss the power of local action and tribal-driven initiatives to support oral health and well-being. Register here.

We encourage you to attend the webinar and share the registration link with your networks.


We know that stories are an important tool in helping to make an emotional connection through which we gain a deeper understanding of other people’s experiences. Please share your experiences in your own community voice that you feel would be helpful for the broader oral health community to understand the context around Tribal veterans and their oral healthcare experiences. Thank you!

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