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announces $215 Million in projects for Rural
WASHINGTON (May 21, 2009) - The Department of Veterans
Affairs (VA) has provided $215 million in
competitive funding to improve services
specifically designed for Veterans in rural
and highly rural areas.
"This funding signals a substantial
expansion of services addressing the health
care needs of our rural Veterans," Secretary
of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki said.
"These funds will allow VA to establish new outpatient
clinics, expand collaborations with federal
and community partners, accelerate the use
of telemedicine deployment, explore
innovative uses of technology, and fund
The selection process was competitive and
Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISNs), VA's regional
health care networks, and Veterans Health
Administration program offices were allowed
to submit up to eight proposed projects
These proposals were prioritized and then sent to the
Office of Rural Health (ORH), where
they were evaluated based on, methodology,
feasibility and intended impact on rural
After careful review, ORH selected 74
programs, many of which were either national
in scope or affected multiple states.
Program offices validated these proposals to
ensure that projects and programs were
consistent with the VA mission, strategic
direction, program standards, and did not
duplicate existing efforts.
The new funding is part of an ambitious VA
program to improve access and quality of
health care -- both physical and mental --
for Veterans in geographically rural areas,
with an emphasis on the use of the latest
technologies, recruitment and retention of a
well-educated and trained health care
workforce, and collaborations with non-VA
rural health community partners.
To address the unique issues facing rural
Veterans, the Department created an Office
of Rural Health in February 2007.
In the past two years, VA formed a 16-member national
committee to advise on issues affecting
rural veterans, opened three Veterans Rural
Health Resource Centers to study rural
Veteran issues, rolled out four new mobile
health clinics to serve 24 predominately
rural counties, announced 10 new rural
outreach clinics to be opened in 2009.