Veterans living in rural parts of the country often have to travel lengthy distances for VA care, but federal lawmakers are taking steps to help ease that pain.
Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), along with Reps. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) and Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) introduced the Rural Veterans Transportation Enhancement Act on Friday. The bipartisan initiative would provide transportation for veterans living in rural areas to travel to VA medical appointments.
“Veterans should not have to worry about how to get to their health care appointments, but too often travel is a real burden, especially for veterans in rural communities,” Larsen said in a statement.
The bill would expand a pilot program that reimburses veterans, and eligible recipients, for travel to VA facilities for mental health and counseling, make permanent a program that empowers VA facilities to hire drivers and purchase vehicles to transport veterans to and from appointments.
“All veterans deserve the same access to quality health care, whether they live in Big Sandy or the Big Apple,” added Tester, ranking member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
Additionally, the measure would provide funding for national and state veterans organizations to explore new ways to provide transportation.