Veterans are having a difficult time accessing VA resources – even in cities where VA resources are relatively abundant. However many Vets live in Rural Areas.  

From the Veterans Health Administration – Office of Rural Health

Of the 22 million veterans in the U.S., 5.3 million veterans – or 24%  – live in rural America.   3.2 million of these rural vets are enrolled in the VA Health care system, 35% of the total enrollees.  Moreover 2.8 million VA patients are affected by a service-related injury.  Of THOSE 36% of those patients (over 1 million) come from rural areas.

Unfortunately very few of the VA’s resources are in Rural areas, and even where there are resources:vets38

  • Often the Vet is still more than a 40 mile drive away from that resource
  • Many of those resources are not equipped to deal with the most common chronic ailments

Congress has tried to alleviate Veterans Care Access issues – both rural and non-rural – with the implementation of the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 (also known as VA Care Choice)

To reiterate – rural Veterans are all too often not accessing benefits that they have earned and that should be available because:

  1. They may be unaware of what benefits they have earned, and how to access them
  2. There is no easy way to find caregivers who can provide those services in accordance with VA rules
  3. They live further than the 40 miles from a qualified facility.

This often results in Veterans paying too much for Healthcare Services that are readily available to them – or more often getting no care at all.

The VA wants to address these Rural Access issues via partnerships with rural communities and hospitals, and enabling and extending Telemedicine/mHealth solutions to caregivers in rural areas.  The VA is asking for help from non-profit Veterans Service Organizations (VSO’s) wherever possible.

Some links to VA HealthCare Access related articles and resources:

VA Office of Rural Health: About Rural Veterans

http://www.ruralhealth.va.gov/about/rural-veterans.asp

Military Times: VA Plans to stand down to review medical access issues

http://www.militarytimes.com/story/veterans/2015/11/06/va-stand-down-mcdonald/75309660/

Journalist’s Resource: US Veterans Affairs Department challenges to providing care for Service Members

http://journalistsresource.org/studies/government/health-care/veterans-affairs-department-health-care-hospitals