The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs has received another federal VA grant to invest a half-million dollars into the transportation needs of veterans living in highly rural Oregon counties.

Distance and transportation to and from appointments are routinely cited by rural veterans as the main obstacles to obtaining health care. Oregon has 10 counties that are considered “highly rural” by the U.S. Census Bureau: Grant, Baker, Gilliam, Lake, Harney, Malheur, Morrow, Sherman, Wallowa and Wheeler. More than one-fifth of Oregon’s veteran population lives in one of these highly rural areas.

“It’s not enough to just provide quality health care for veterans. We must also ensure that all veterans have access to it — no matter where they choose to live,” ODVA Director Cameron Smith said. “We are proud to collaborate with our local partners to continue to reduce barriers for rural veterans to access care at the VA and in the community.”

For the past three years, Oregon has received the maximum award of $50,000 for each participating county. ODVA, in partnership with each county or transportation district, leverages these dollars in conjunction with existing programs and innovative new approaches to medical transportation in order to get the maximum value from each grant.

Tapping into existing programs has enabled these grant dollars to make a significant and immediate impact for rural veterans in need of medical transportation services. Last year, the 10 participating counties drove over 274,600 miles as part of this program and spent a total of 9,871 hours on the road.

Free transportation to and from medical appointments (not just those at VA facilities) is available to any veteran living in one of the participating highly rural counties. Services include door-to-door pick-up and drop-off in ADA-compliant vehicles, with assistance in loading or unloading at no cost to the veteran.

For more information about the Highly Rural Transportation program in Grant County, call 541-575-2370. A complete list of the appropriate contacts can be found on ODVA’s website at http://wp.me/p60SnD-Nf.

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