(Music) (Klobucar) Of the 8.9 million
enrolled Veterans in the VA healthcare system, 3.2 million
of them live in rural areas of
the United States. The Office of Rural Health is
interested in ensuring that our
Veterans living in rural areas of the
United States have the same level of access as every other
Veteran to the care and the services they deserve. (Capra) Rural Veterans face
healthcare challenges that many Veterans
face. What sets rural Veterans apart is the issue of access to
healthcare. One of the most significant challenges they face
is transportation. They may have to travel quite a distance to
get to the specialist or even the primary care provider that
they need to see. (Klobucar) And, in the
communities where they live,
there are significant shortages of doctors and nurses
and other healthcare providers. So, the Office of Rural Health
is working to improve and increase access to care for
rural Veterans through our promising practices program,
through rural provider training programs that train doctors and
nurses who then go serve in rural communities, and a variety
of other initiatives including telehealth, or telemedicine,
delivering care over distance using technology. (Martz) It’s really gone over
quite well. Some of the older Veterans that
you would think would be a little reluctant have really
embraced it and found it to be quite to their liking. And,
we’re constantly finding new ways to use telehealth with
telepsychology, telepsychiatry. We know that in rural
communities, there is often an absence of mental health
providers sufficient to meet the need in those communities.
(music) So, for mental healthcare specifically, VA’s
Office of Rural Health has funded programs that have helped
in the following ways. 100,000 rural Veterans have obtained
mental healthcare through telehealth technology; 778 rural
clergy members have been trained to better recognize
post-traumatic stress disorder in returning service members and
Veterans; and 97 mental health student trainees have completed
clinical rotations at rural VA facilities. Again, it’s about
access to services and about delivering that care to Veterans
when they need it and where
they are. (Scheib) I live in the
country outside of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. This is extremely
convenient for me; I don’t have to drive and hour-and-a-half
down to Martinsburg compared to just driving like 20 or 30
minutes to here. My healthcare providers are extremely nice,
which to me makes a world of difference – the nicer they are,
the better things go. “Have a good day.” (Capra) At the Department of
Veterans Affairs. Veterans are our number one
customer; they are our priority. And so, success is Veterans
being able to access their care in their rural community;
success is rural Veterans being able to access the specialists
that they may need; and success is really bringing together all
the best pieces of a community and the larger VA healthcare
system to support and care for
that rural Veteran. (music)