VA grants secured by Tester will improve health care for rural veterans

Senator’s initiative will improve transportation options for Montana veterans

(HAVRE, Mont.) – Senator Jon Tester is ringing in the new year by announcing that Montana veterans will soon have more ways to get needed medical care, thanks to a law he authored.

Tester said that the VA will provide grants to veterans service organizations that help veterans in extremely rural areas reach VA medical centers.  Many veterans, especially in rural states like Montana, have difficulty making it to appointments or receiving needed services.

Tester, Montana’s only member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, made these grants a critical part of his bipartisan Rural Veterans Healthcare Improvement Act.  The law strengthens services and benefits for veterans’ healthcare providers.     

“Better access to care will improve veterans’ lives and allow this country to meet its obligations to the men and women who served in the military,” Tester said.  “Folks like the Disabled American Veterans do an incredible job of helping fellow veterans get to Fort Harrison and other VA facilities.  Now is our chance to help them make their van service even better.  The VA needs to keep making progress in its responsibility to better serve veterans in rural and frontier communities.”

Grants will be used to purchase vans and provide other travel assistance for veterans seeking medical care.  They will only be awarded to veterans’ service organizations and state veterans’ service agencies to serve regions with fewer than seven people per square mile – a level that applies to all but nine counties in Montana and all reservations.    

Tester’s work on behalf of Montana’s veterans ranges from health care access to education benefits to job creation.  He most recently authored the bipartisan VOW to Hire Heroes Act that creates more job opportunities for veterans.

The VA is currently accepting feedback on its proposal and plans to make its first grants to veterans’ groups this year.