Published On: June 14th, 2022|448 words|1.5 min read|
Hans Petersen is senior writer-editor for Digital Media, VHA Office of Communications. An Air Force Veteran, Hans also served two years in the Peace Corps and worked for 20 years in broadcasting before joining VA.
The digital divide is the gap between people who do and do not have access to the internet and internet-connected devices. This divide prevents many Veterans from receiving telehealth care.
Digital Divide Consult ensures all Veterans have access to VA care
If you would benefit from video telehealth services but don’t have internet access or a video-capable device, your VA care team can help through the Digital Divide Consult.
With the Digital Divide Consult, your VA provider can refer you to a VA social worker. The social worker can determine whether you are eligible for programs that can help you get the internet service or technology needed for VA telehealth.
VA’s telehealth services enable Veterans to meet with their trusted VA provider anytime, anywhere, without sacrificing the personalized care you expect from VA. More and more Veterans have turned to telehealth to save time while still benefiting from face-to-face interaction with their providers.
Caregivers and family members eligible
Veteran’s family members and caregivers can also be involved in the Digital Divide Consult.
During the pandemic, VA’s telehealth services were of critical importance. They enhanced options for Veterans to connect with the high-quality care they deserve. The Digital Divide Consult is another step VA is taking to ensure that all Veterans, regardless of where they live, have convenient access to VA care.
Nationally, VA provides more than 40,000 video telehealth visits into Veterans’ homes on a typical weekday. This exceeds the number of visits VA had offered over an entire month before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through the Digital Divide Consult, a VA social worker can determine if the Veteran is eligible for the following programs:
VA’s Connected Devices Program: Provides eligible Veterans with internet-connected tablets at no cost so they can access VA care through telehealth. VA helps with initial device setup and provides 24/7 tech support for VA-loaned devices.
Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) Lifeline program: Subsidizes the cost of broadband and phone services. Many Veterans are eligible for FCC Lifeline benefits. Those benefits include Veterans with low incomes and Veterans who participate in Medicaid, VA pension, VA Survivors Pension, and other federal programs.
FCC’sAffordable Connectivity Program: Provides eligible households with discounts toward home internet service. Households can also receive a one-time discount to purchase a computer or tablet.
EveryoneOnprogram: Works to connect people living in the U.S. with low-cost home internet service, affordable computers and tablets, and digital literacy training.