Congressman Donnelly Commends VA on Creation of Rural Health Advisory Committee
Today, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake announced the creation of a 13-member Rural Health Advisory Committee to assess current VA programs for rural veterans and identify barriers to good health care and make recommendations to the secretary for improvements. Congressman Joe Donnelly, a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, introduced legislation last year to create a similar committee focused on the unique health care needs of rural veterans.
"I was happy to learn that the VA is creating a Rural Health Advisory Committee to help veterans residing in rural areas," Donnelly said. "Over 40 percent of our veterans returning home from operations in Iraq and Afghanistan come from rural communities, and they often lack sufficient access to services provided by the VA. Ensuring high quality and accessible services for all those who serve and have served our country is one of my top priorities. This new advisory committee will provide expert advice on how we can do better for veterans in rural America."
H.R. 2190, The Advisory Committee on Rural Veterans Act, would establish an advisory committee comprised of government officials, outside experts and members of the general public who are representatives of rural and disabled veterans. The legislation was approved by the House of Representatives last year by a vote of 421 to 0.
"The idea for this legislation came from the Veterans Advisory Board that I meet with regularly." Donnelly said. "The advice and feedback I receive from the veterans on my board has been invaluable in conducting my work as a member of the Veterans' Affairs Committee. I believe strides will be made in providing care to rural veterans now that the Secretary has a similar committee. I commend the VA for not waiting for my bill to become law before acting to improve care for rural veterans."
"This distinguished panel includes strong advocates for the needs of VA patients in rural areas," Secretary Peake said. "This is an important step in expanding access to VA's world-class health care system for veterans."