Larsen and Thornberry Introduce Bill to Improve Transportation Services for Rural Veterans

Sep 26, 2019 Issues: Health Care, Veterans

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02) joined Rep. Mac Thornberry (TX-13) to introduce bipartisan legislation to help rural veterans get to and from their medical appointments more easily.

The Rural Veterans Travel Enhancement Act will make permanent three successful initiatives providing veterans with transportation services and reimbursement for their travel to VA medical facilities. Not only do these initiatives ease the burden for veterans traveling lengthy distances for care, but they have proven to save taxpayer dollars and reduce the number of missed medical appointments at VA.

This legislation will also streamline the certification process for volunteers who sign up to help transport veterans to their 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,” said Rep. Larsen, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee. “The bipartisan Rural Veterans Travel Enhancement Act will give veterans access to much-needed health care, regardless of where they live.”

“Veterans have put their lives on the line for our country, and they deserve the best care we can provide when they get home,” said Rep. Thornberry, Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee. “Our veterans should have access to healthcare no matter where they live. We will never truly repay them for the sacrifices they have made, but it is important that we continue to take steps to better serve our veterans.”

The Rural Veterans Travel Enhancement Act of 2019 will:

  • Expand a pilot program that reimburses veterans and eligible beneficiaries for traveling to Vet Centers for mental health care and counseling.
  • Make permanent the Veterans Transportation Service (VTS) program, which allows local VA facilities to purchase vehicles and hire drivers to transport veterans to and from their appointments.
  • Extend a grant program that allows Veterans Service Organizations and state Veterans Service Agencies to explore new approaches to provide transportation or travel assistance for rural veterans.
  • Expedite medical screenings for volunteer drivers serving veterans through VTS.

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