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Veterans Health Administration


National Rural Health Day Salutes Veterans

A man stands in a field

VA is delivering health care in areas where it was not previously available.

by Hans Petersen, VA Staff Writer
Thursday, November 21, 2013

More than six million Veterans live and work in America’s rural communities.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Rural Health is working hard to bring health care closer to home for rural Veterans. Since its inception in 2007, the Office of Rural Health has been dedicated to identifying and implementing innovative solutions to overcome barriers and bring rural Veterans health care closer to home.

Just a few reasons VA is celebrating National Rural Health Day this Thursday, November 21st:

Many rural residents, including the 3.1 million Veterans enrolled in the VA health care system, face some unique barriers to accessing health care, such as a lack of public transportation, geography, limited options for health care services, a lack of specialized care and an inadequate number of health care providers.

Many projects of the Office of Rural Health reduce and/or remove barriers through innovative uses of technology and telehealth. “The Veterans Health Administration is the largest integrated health care system in the United States,” said Gina Capra, Office of Rural Health Director, “yet rural Veterans have limited options for local VA specialty care and mental health services. Office of Rural Health supported telehealth and mobile clinic projects are delivering these services in areas where they weren’t previously available.”

All Veterans, regardless of where they live, deserve access to high quality health care.

Health care options for rural Veterans are also affected by the challenges of recruiting and retaining health care providers to rural areas. Though 20 percent of the population lives in rural America, only nine percent of physicians practice in these areas.

The Office of Rural Health is working on that, too.

The Rural Health Training and Education Initiative provides a rural health care delivery experience for residents and health professions trainees and the recently launched Rural Provider and Staff Training Initiative will implement innovative, cutting-edge training and educational programs based on local education needs for rural VA health care providers and their clinic staff.

In addition, the three Veterans Rural Health Resource Centers are exploring and developing collaborations with other federal agencies and community partners to expand and improve access to care, as well as improve the coordination of care for rural Veterans who receive services from both VA and a local community health care provider.

VA has the responsibility to ensure all Veterans, regardless of where they live, have access to the high quality health care they have earned.

For additional information about National Rural Health Day go to