The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) today begins a new initiative to help provide transportation to veterans living in rural areas. The rule, which was adopted by the VA, mirrored legislation authored by Congressman Gallego -- The Rural Veterans Healthcare Accessibility Improvement Act. The rule and the legislation will provide Veterans in rural communities transportation, giving them access to medical care.
"As a country, we can always do more for those who have sacrificed so much," said Congressman Pete Gallego. "The start of this new initiative is important for the heroes who have served our country -- and will be especially meaningful in the rural parts of the district."
Today the VA will begin accepting application for grants for up to $50,000 in order to help state Veterans Service Agencies and Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs). With these grants, agencies will be able to provide transportation services for Veterans to VA medical centers and other facilities that provide VA care.
"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."
With nearly 30 percent of our nation's more than 22 million Veterans living in rural areas, this policy is necessary in order to maintain the health and well-being of our Veterans. In addition, Veterans living in rural areas account for 41 percent of the total population receiving health care through the VA, so this initiative affects more than a segment of the Veterans population, but nearly half of all Veterans.
The VA is defining a highly rural area as a county or counties with a population of fewer than seven persons per square mile. For more information, please see the Federal Register.