Veterans Today: VA Grants Will Expand Transportation in Highly Rural Areas!
Veterans to Have Easier Access to Health Care. Veterans will have improved access to health care under a Department of Veterans Affairs initiative that supports new transportation services for those living in highly rural areas. VA began accepting applications this month for grants to help state Veterans Service Agencies and Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) operate or contract for transportation services to transport Veterans to VA medical centers and other facilities that provide VA care. A new regulation establishes the program that will administer these grants. Transportation will be provided at no cost to Veterans. VA wants to be sure that all Veterans, including those who live in rural and remote areas, can receive the health care they have earned through service to our country, said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. State Veterans Agencies and VSOs will now be able to employ innovative approaches to transportation services for Veterans in our highly rural areas. The end results will include better service and better health care for Veterans. VSOs and State Veterans Service Agencies may apply for grants up to $50,000 to fund transportation of Veterans to and from VA medical centers and other facilities that provide VA care. If specified in the application, the services may be provided under agreements with contractors, such as private bus or van companies. A highly rural area is defined as a country or counties with a population of fewer than seven persons per square mile. Many highly rural areas are found in the western and southwestern United States, but at least half of the states have at least one highly rural area. One of Secretary Shinseki's top three priorities is increasing access to VA care and services for Veterans wherever they live. VA is expanding access in a three pronged effort that includes facilities, programs and technology. Veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan are eligible for an extended period of eligibility for 5 years after they have left the service. For more information, please see the Federal Register.