New grant will assist rural Veterans

Volunteers of America of North Louisiana is one of five organizations throughout the country chosen by the Department of Veterans Affairs for a pilot program to assist Veterans and their families who are transitioning from military service to civilian life in rural or underserved communities.

The Rural Veterans Coordination Pilot (RVCP) is a two-year program that awards up to $2 million. Volunteers of America intends to reach more than 400 Veterans by connecting them to quality medical and mental health services, as well as other critical resources such as housing and employment assistance.

More than 43,000 veterans live in the rural areas covered by the program, which includes 26 parishes/counties in North Louisiana, Southern Arkansas and East Texas.

“We are very excited to reach this population because they have been grossly underserved,” said Gary Jaynes, Director of Veteran Services for Volunteers of America North Louisiana.

Volunteers of America will bring veterans in rural areas to existing resources (through referral and transportation initiatives) and take resources directly to veterans (through telemedicine technologies and peer case management). In collaboration with Overton Brooks VA Medical Center, the program will also bring health care to veterans through telemedicine. With a mobile “health service center” equipped with telemed technology as well as a medical professional, Volunteers of America will be able to connect veterans with doctors and other health professionals to attend to routine health procedures.

VA will use the pilot program to evaluate the effectiveness of using community-based organizations and local and State government entities to improve services to transitioning Veterans and their families.

“We want to do everything that we can do to support our Veterans and their families,” said VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald. “We are looking forward to working with these organizations. This 2-year pilot will not only be beneficial to those Veterans we currently serve, but to future Veterans as we learn best practices to replicate it in other rural communities.”

Also selected are:

  • Maine Department of Labor – State Entity;
  • Westcare Washington, Inc. – (Washington State to include Oregon) – Non-Profit Organization;
  • New Mexico Department of Veterans’ Services – State Entity; and
  • Nebraska Association of Local Health Directors – Non-Profit Organization

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