The features that draw Veterans to rural communities often separates them from quality health care. Many of America’s nearly 4.7 million rural Veterans struggle to access even basic levels of health services due to long drive times, provider shortages or hospital closures.
To help overcome these challenges, VA’s Office of Rural Health (ORH) operates field-based offices called Veterans Rural Health Resource Centers (VRHRCs). Through innovative research, VRHRCs identify solutions that bring care to wherever needed most.
You can find ORH’s VRHRCs located across the country, in Gainesville, Florida; Portland, Oregon; White River Junction, Vermont; Iowa City, Iowa; and Salt Lake City, Utah.
The Gainesville and Portland VRHRCs focus on several issues that affect rural Veterans. These issues include suicide prevention, substance abuse disorder and rural physician recruitment. Their work will support research taking place at other VRHRCs ranging from telehealth to community care coordination.
VRHRC’s work informs many ORH programs. This includes technology, partnerships and training to address a variety of challenges facing rural health care. From hiring physicians to bringing care to the patient’s living room, ORH initiatives are designed to help rural Veterans thrive regardless of where they call home.
You can learn more about the role of ORH’s Veterans Rural Health Resource Centers at its website: http://www.ruralhealth.va.gov/ or with the video below.
Thomas Klobucar, PhD, is the Executive Director for VA’s Office of Rural Health