VA Official Responds
The Intelligencer’s July 7 editorial, “U.S. Vets Agency Shirks Duty Again,” makes the false claim that the federal government is somehow hiding information about how veterans can get transportation to and from VA hospitals and clinics.
In reality, the VA directs grants to a service that results in thousands of free rides for West Virginia Veterans each year. The VA — working with state and local officials, Veterans groups and other organizations — also organizes a volunteer ride service that in 2018 saw 188 volunteers in your state contribute more than 93,000 hours to help veterans get where they’re going.
Veterans in West Virginia clearly know a lot about these services since they are using them in great numbers.
One reason for The Intelligencer’s confusion may be that contact information for individual drivers is coordinated locally, where it should be, and most veterans get in touch with these programs with the help of local VA staff or social workers.
Veterans who are still unsure how to get a ride need only call their local VA facility and ask for a mobility manager or transportation coordinator to help schedule a ride. Contact information for your closest VA facility can be found at www.VetRide.net.
The editorial also ignored how the new law the MISSION Act is making it even easier for veterans to get care closer to home. Under this historic and bipartisan law, veterans no longer need to spend hours in a car getting to a VA hospital.
If it’s too long of a drive, or the VA can’t offer the care a veteran needs, or if it’s simply in the best interest of a veteran to get care outside the VA, veterans can seek out community care right where they live. That means veterans are spending even less time in the car, and more time getting the medical attention they’ve earned.
The MISSION Act even established a new benefit that gives eligible veterans access to urgent and walk-in care at participating clinics in their communities. This is a huge step forward in terms of convenience for our patients, as eligible veterans do not need to get prior authorization from VA to visit an urgent care provider in VA’s network. To be eligible for urgent and walk-in care, veterans must be enrolled in the VA health care system and have received care through VA from either a VA or community provider within the past 24 months.
VA is encouraging veterans to visit missionact.va.gov to see what they are eligible for, enroll in VA health care and find VA medical centers and community providers in their neighborhood.
Editorials such as The Intelligencer’s –written without any apparent knowledge of current events or how VA operates — do a disservice to our nation’s veterans by putting doubts in their mind about seeking care. The Intelligencer would a better job of “helping others help veterans” by researching more thoroughly and presenting the facts.
Assistant Secretary, Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
Department of Veterans Affairs