Federal officials are announcing plans to build three Veterans Rural Health Resource Centers in the U.S., including one in Iowa City. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says with so many veterans returning to Iowa from Iraq, Afghanistan and other trouble spots, the Department of Veterans Affairs facility will be of great benefit.
Grassley says: "The center is intended to help the department better understand the issues facing increasing numbers of veterans living in rural areas. The department is then expected to take this information and develop special practices that can be replicated around the country." Grassley, a Republican, says he’s co-sponsored several pieces of legislation that are designed to make it easier for veterans living in rural areas to access health care.
Grassley says: "These proposals would take the Veterans Administration health care services on the road to veterans’ homes. That bill’s been introduced and then another bill, providing travel resource for veterans to get to medical care — that’s been passed by the Veterans Affairs Committee."
The Iowa City center will be a satellite office for the V-A’s Office of Rural Health and will serve the nation’s central region. It will be staffed with administrative, clinical and research staff who will be tasked with identifying disparities in health care for veterans living in rural areas and formulate practices and programs to enhance the delivery of care.
Grassley says: "The high number of National Guard and Reservists taking a major role in the War on Terror means many of them are coming home to rural areas where the nearest assistance may be hundreds of miles away, hence, these rural health centers are serving a very needed purpose."
Iowa’s other U.S. Senator, Democrat Tom Harkin says: "We have a moral obligation to the men and women who have served our country and providing them convenient, quality healthcare is a key part of that obligation. I am glad that the V-A is making health care for Iowa veterans a priority by focusing on the unique needs of those living in smaller communities and rural areas."