Veteran Caregivers in Rural Areas Face Unique COVID-19 Challenges

Veteran Caregivers in Rural Areas Face Unique COVID-19 Challenges
VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, bottom left, and others attend a 2019 demonstration of a remote telehealth exam room from Philips. (VA photo)

Access to health care is increasingly challenging in rural areas during the COVID-19 crisis, presenting problems for veteran caregivers in those areas who seek support and resources.  

 

To begin to address this critical need of so many veteran caregivers, MOAA’s valued partner, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation (EDF) presented Supporting Rural Veterans and Caregivers Amid COVID-19, a highly informative July 14 webinar moderated by Rashi Romanoff, the foundation’s vice president of programs and partnerships. Panelists were Dr. Steven Lieberman, acting principal deputy undersecretary for health, Veterans Health Administration (VHA); Dr. Thomas Klobucar, executive director of VA’s Office of Rural Health, VHA; and Nathan Naylor, vice president of veterans health care, at Philips North America.

 

Each speaker provided insights into key efforts in support of military caregivers and veterans, particularly in rural areas. Among the highlights:

  • 57% of VA health care enrollees live in rural areas. When it comes to securing their benefits, enrollees may face provider shortages, limited broadband Internet access, and transportation concerns.

  • VA’s efforts to address these issues focus on enhanced training and increased telehealth. One example: Project ATLAS, or Accessing Telehealth Through Local Area Stations, connects patients and providers through virtual clinics. Partners in the project include the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, Philips, and Walmart, as well as veterans service organizations like the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

  • The overarching mission is making VA health care more accessible for veterans and their caregivers, with effective telehealth available from caregiver living rooms through remote doctor consultations.

 

 

Aside from key insights focused on the needs of rural veterans and caregivers, especially during COVID-19, the following resources were also offered:

 

Join MOAA and the Elizabeth Dole Foundation in our ongoing support of veterans and caregivers during these difficult times by visiting HiddenHeroes.org or accessing Tips for Lifelong Caregiving, a website from MOAA and the foundation highlighting caregiver resources.

 

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About the Author

Capt. Pat L. Williams, USN (Ret)
Capt. Pat L. Williams, USN (Ret)

Williams serves as MOAA's Program Director, Engagement and Transition Services. She served 35 years in the Navy in multiple high visibility leadership positions. She is a Certified Professional in Human Resources.