As of 2014, approximately 3 million veterans who lived in rural areas of the country were enrolled in the VA health system. Veterans have increased health needs, including higher prevalence of diabetes, cancer, COPD, and PTSD compared to non-veterans, and may need to travel to specific locations like VA hospitals to receive healthcare services. Some veterans have to travel far distances and many hours from their rural home to their nearest VA hospital or clinic.
Veterans living in rural areas may face several barriers to receiving care as they are more likely to be over the age of 65 and may face financial challenges that make travel costs for healthcare appointments burdensome. Longer distances to healthcare facilities in rural areas also means veterans may not have immediate access to all types of healthcare providers, including specialists.
There are programs dedicated to veterans that focus on transportation. These include:
- Highly Rural Transportation Grants which support veterans in highly rural areas to travel to VA and VA-authorized healthcare facilities at no cost.
- The Disabled American Veteran (DAV) transportation program is a volunteer van program that transports veterans at no cost to VA healthcare facilities.
- The Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative (VTCLI) supports veterans in need of transportation to work, educational classes, and healthcare appointments by connecting them to resources available in their community.
Mobility managers coordinate transportation services for different populations and have been used to help meet the health and transit needs of veterans. Mobility Managers of the Veterans Transportation Service coordinate payments for transportation services to veterans, collaborate with other local organizations to fulfill veterans' transportation needs, and determine the most appropriate transportation option for veterans in their care.
Resources to Learn More
101 Webinar: Veterans Highly
Rural Transportation Grants
These slides review transportation programs supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The presentation provides a thorough overview of the impact of grant funding on rural communities.
Organization(s): National Rural Transit Assistance Program
Community Tools to Improve Transportation Options for
Veterans, Military Service Members, and Their Families
Comprehensive report providing detailed guidance on current status of transportation programs and describes the process of transportation program planning for veterans and military service members.
Author(s): Ellis, E., Menninger, H., Glauthier, R., et al.
Organization(s): Transit Cooperative Research Program
Veterans Transportation Program and Veterans
Lists the transportation programs offered to U.S. veterans through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. These include the Veterans Transportation Service, the Beneficiary Travel program, and the Highly Rural Transportation Grants.
Organization(s): U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs