Yesterday U.S. Senator Tom Udall announced that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is launching a new initiative that supports innovative transportation services for veterans living in highly rural areas.
Veterans Service Organizations (VSO) and State Veterans Service Agencies can now apply for grants up to $50,000 to provide transportation options for rural veterans to VA medical centers and other facilities that administer VA care. If specified in the application, the services may be provided under agreements with contractors, such as private bus or van companies.
“All over New Mexico, I have been hearing about the challenges facing rural veterans in receiving timely, quality VA health services,” said Udall. “The Highly Rural Transportation Grants Program supports new ways to improve access to veteran care that will hopefully enhance transportation options, reduce wait times to receive treatment and cut down on unnecessary expenses, and I encourage eligible New Mexico organizations to apply.”
The VA announcement comes after Udall heard about the major needs of veterans in rural Northeastern New Mexico last week. In March, he met with veterans in Roswell about these issues and registered his concerns to VA Secretary Shinseki about the transportation challenges facing New Mexico veterans following that meeting.
A highly rural area is defined as a county or counties with a population of fewer than seven persons per square mile. Many highly rural areas are found in western and southwestern states like New Mexico, but at least half of the states have at least one highly rural area.
Applications must be submitted by 4 p.m. EST on September 9, 2013. Click here for more information, including instructions to receive a copy of the application package.