VA implements Tester transportation plan to improve access to care for rural veterans

Senator proposed grants to increase travel options for Montana veterans

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester today announced that the Department of Veterans Affairs is implementing his plan to upgrade transportation services for rural veterans so they can more easily access the quality health care they earned.

The VA is now accepting grant applications from veterans service organizations, such as the Disabled American Veterans, looking to provide transportation to veterans in rural areas. Tester wrote and passed the legislation directing the VA to provide the grants to the service organizations.

“All veterans earn the same quality of care no matter where they live, and it’s my responsibility to reduce the barriers to care that rural veterans face,” said Tester, Montana’s only member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “Folks like the DAV do great work to make sure that the distance between a veteran and their doctor’s office won’t keep them from receiving the care they earned, and this announcement will help them provide more critical transportation services.”

Senator Max Baucus also supports the initiative.

“I hear from veterans across the state that getting to and from doctors’ appointments is a real challenge – these grants will help bridge the gap. Because Montana has more veterans per capita than nearly anywhere else in the nation, we’ve got to look under every rock to make sure we’re not only providing our veterans with the health care they’ve earned, but making sure they can access that care regardless of where they live,” said Baucus who championed Relief for Rural Veterans in Crisis legislation to improve rural veterans’ access to critical health services.

The VA grants are reserved for organizations that serve veterans in areas where the population is less than seven people per square mile. Montana’s average population density is 6.2 people per square mile.

Tester and Baucus also announced today that the VA will provide Volunteers of America Northern Rockies with more than $700,000 to help homeless and at-risk veterans and their families in Montana.

Following a recent hearing of Tester’s subcommittee on government efficiency, the Senator introduced a comprehensive veterans’ health care bill to benefit rural veterans and veterans suffering from mental health conditions like PTSD.