Skip to main content

Rural Veterans and Access to Healthcare – Models and Innovations

These stories feature model programs and successful rural projects that can serve as a source of ideas and provide lessons others have learned. Some of the projects or programs may no longer be active. Read about the criteria and evidence-base for programs included.

Effective Examples

Rural Telemental Health (RTMH) Program
Updated/reviewed July 2018
  • Need: To provide high-quality mental healthcare to rural veterans.
  • Intervention: The Rural Telemental Health (RTMH) program, stationed at the Portland VA Medical Center, reaches rural veterans in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington via telehealth.
  • Results: From 2010 to 2013, 1,754 veterans received diagnoses, therapy, medication management, and other mental health services.
Patient Care Connect
Updated/reviewed December 2017
  • Need: Cancer patients living in the Deep South encounter multiple barriers in accessing regular cancer treatment.
  • Intervention: The University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center developed a program that uses lay patient navigators to support and direct patients to appropriate resources to overcome barriers to accessing care.
  • Results: The program has become a model for improving cancer care quality, decreasing unnecessary utilization (ER visits and hospitalizations), removing barriers to care, and enhancing patient satisfaction.

Promising Examples

STAIR (Skills Training in Affective and Interpersonal Regulation)
Updated/reviewed January 2019
  • Need: To increase access to telemental health services for rural veterans, especially women, with a history of trauma.
  • Intervention: STAIR (Skills Training in Affective and Interpersonal Regulation) is a 10-week program designed to reduce PTSD and depression symptoms and increase emotional regulation and social functioning in clients.
  • Results: Therapists reported that clients attended more sessions when offered via teleconferencing, and clients reported satisfaction with the program.

Other Project Examples

Military Medics and Corpsmen Program
Updated/reviewed September 2019
  • Need: To help veterans transition into civilian healthcare careers.
  • Intervention: MMAC and healthcare employers in urban and rural Virginia provide employment and education opportunities to veterans seeking civilian medical credentials.
  • Results: MMAC has accepted 543 applicants into the program, 155 of whom have already found employment via the MMAC program.
Telehealth Collaborative Care
Updated/reviewed August 2019
  • Need: To increase access to specialty care for rural veterans living with HIV.
  • Intervention: The Telehealth Collaborative Care (TCC) study connects these patients with HIV specialists via clinical video telehealth or video on demand and works to create shared care relationships with primary care teams in rural areas.
  • Results: TCC provides HIV specialty care to 600 rural veterans in Georgia and Texas and has expanded to include Indiana, Ohio, Mississippi, and Florida.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy ASPIN's Certified Recovery Specialist Program
Updated/reviewed July 2019
  • Need: Improved approach in addressing the behavioral health and primary care disparities of Indiana's underserved rural counties.
  • Intervention: A network was established that trained community health workers (CHW) to be certified health insurance enrollment navigators and provide mental health services.
  • Results: This year, ASPIN trained 61 CHWs, cross-trained 37 behavioral health case managers as CHWs, and 26 individuals in the Indiana Navigator Pre-certification Education.
Tele-ICU for Veterans
Updated/reviewed June 2019
  • Need: To enhance care for patients in critical condition.
  • Intervention: Two VA facilities in Oklahoma and Ohio are connected through audiovisual equipment using smart technology in order for providers to monitor patients and consult with clinical staff at the bedside.
  • Results: From April 2018 to April 2019, there were 5,933 video assessments performed on ICU patients at the Oklahoma facility by tele-ICU staff. This resulted in 7,379 hours of patient care time.
Community Clergy Training to Support Rural Veterans Mental Health
Updated/reviewed May 2019
  • Need: To educate rural clergy and chaplains about the ways they can help improve veterans' access to physical or mental healthcare by referring them to available resources.
  • Intervention: Trained VA Chaplains and U.S. Army Reserve Chaplains provide free interactive training sessions to rural community clergy partners.
  • Results: Since 2010, more than 4,000 clergy members, chaplains, behavioral health professionals, and others supporting rural veterans have participated in a Community Clergy Training Program (CCTP) event.
funded by the Health Resources Services Administration Implementation of a Nursing Veterans' Initiative to Transform Education (INVITE)
Updated/reviewed May 2019
  • Need: To support rural veterans pursuing a career in nursing.
  • Intervention: The INVITE program improved the curriculum and reworked admission requirements to better support veteran students' experiences in the College of St. Scholastica undergraduate nursing program.
  • Results: The number of veterans pursuing nursing has more than doubled since program implementation, and all students have reported an increased interest in serving rural communities.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Indiana Veterans Behavioral Health Network
Updated/reviewed April 2018
  • Need: To address the lack of mental healthcare options for rural veterans.
  • Intervention: A telebehavioral health hub network was created to connect community mental health centers to the VA Medical Center.
  • Results: More than 3,000 telehealth appointments have been made, saving hundreds of veterans time and money.

Last Updated: 9/5/2019