VA’s Office of Rural Health (ORH) and its five satellite offices identify challenges that impact rural Veterans and so that it can develop innovative solutions to implement system wide.
VA provides health care and services to more than 8.4 million Veterans nationwide. That includes nearly 3 million Veterans in rural communities. The wellness needs of these rural Veterans are as unique as the communities they call home. Those needs range from chronic disease management to mental health to acute care.
Rural communities offer their residents a host of benefits. The features many Veterans find comforting – such as greater privacy, less traffic and more personal space – can present serious challenges to delivering quality health care.
Medical facility closures, provider shortages, long drives to care sites and other factors can separate rural Veterans from the support they need.
Office of Rural Health improves health of Veterans nationwide
These disparities led Congress to establish the VA Office of Rural Health (ORH). ORH researches, innovates and disseminates studies and programs that improve the health and well-being of rural Veterans nationwide.
Through its five Veterans Rural Health Resource Centers, the Office of Rural Health explores new ways to improve the lives of rural Veterans. Researchers at each resource center conduct studies, pilot test solutions, and oversee the spread of programs that identify and address health care gaps in rural communities.
This allows the office to better understand challenges impacting rural Veterans and design innovative solutions that help them thrive.
Most pressing issues impacting rural Veterans
ORH-funded research and programs continue to address the most-pressing issues impacting rural Veterans nationwide, such as:
- Rural Veteran suicide.
- Firearm injury prevention.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatment.
In fiscal year 2020, ORH funded $300 million to programs that support rural Veterans and the providers who serve them. These initiatives collectively impacted millions of rural Veterans across the country.
Learn more about how the Office of Rural Health uses innovation to improve the well-being of rural Veterans by watching this video. We also encourage you to visit www.ruralhealth.va.gov to learn how ORH programs support the health of rural Veterans nationwide.
Thomas Klobucar is executive director of the Office of Rural Health.