Thursday, May 21, 2015

Nation's 5.6 million rural veterans lack attention, resources, says Housing Assistance Council

Officials from the Housing Assistance Council said this week during their annual summit that public planners have too limited a view of the struggles of the nation's 5.6 million rural veterans to effectively reach them, Leo Shane reports for Military Times.

"Veterans in rural areas are generally older (median age 62) than the overall veterans population (median age 40) and more likely to own their own homes but less likely to have easy access to a variety of federal health care and employment offerings, according to group research," Shane writes.

"Jon Dieter, director of community services at Washington Longview Housing Authority, said recent national efforts to solve veterans' homelessness have led to a bounty of new housing resource partners in his state," Shane writes. "But when officials tried to expand those efforts from cities to rural regions, the available partners suddenly disappeared."

Deiter told Shane, "Like so many other things, you're just not going to find resources for rural veterans unless we push, pull and advocate for them. A lot of the problems we normally face with helping veterans become so much harder when we're in rural areas."

Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.) said one concern is limited transportation options to VA facilities, especially for older veterans, Shane writes. Farr said "waiting for mobile care centers to visit their towns is less practical than getting the department to pay for checkups with private-sector doctors." Farr told Shane, "So we need a different approach. Too often rural America gets screwed on these kinds of services." (Read more)

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