VA Reaches Out to Rural Veterans

Telehealth is one of the areas of expansion in care for rural vets.

Nearly half of all veterans enrolled n the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care System are "rural" residents, as determined by the U.S. Census. With veterans so far from major metropolitan areas, the VA is implementing new measures and technology to guarantee that all veterans receive the service they deserve.

A recent article on the Department of Veterans Affairs website detailed some of the difficulties faced, as well as remedies. According to the article, individuals living in rural areas face some unique barriers to access health care, including limited options for health care services, a lack of specialized care and an inadequate number of health care providers working in rural areas, or a lack of health insurance. One major challenge being addressed by the Office of Rural Health is the need to travel long distances to health care facilities.

Dr. Mary Beth Skupien, Director of the Office of Rural Health, says, “We have the commitment to use technology to bring care closer to the Veterans, either in their community or their home.”

In a time when the Department of Health and Human Services estimate that half of the adults living in rural areas are suffering from chronic health conditions, it's more important than ever for the VA to reach out to rural veterans, especially those with additional health complications associated with combat exposure, such as PTSD. This is why providing access to health care for rural Vets is an ongoing priority with VA. There are currently more than 800 VA community-based outpatient clinics (CBOCs). Almost half of these clinics are located in rural areas.