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VWWP receives grant to expand service to veterans in Southwest Virginia

RICHMOND—The Virginia Wounded Warrior Program (VWWP) in partnership with the Virginia Department of Health is one of three programs in the country to be awarded federal funding via the Flex Rural Veterans Health Access Program. The two other grants were awarded to Montana and Alaska.

The grant will provide approximately $300,000 per year for three years to expand services to veterans living in rural areas throughout Southwest Virginia. The U.S. Health Resources Services Administration targets these grants to states with significant veteran populations. The money will be used to expand the existing VWWP in Region 3, Southwest Virginia. Particular emphasis will be placed on coordination of behavioral health and primary care in areas without ready access to services provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). In addition to hiring a full time regional coordinator and more resource specialists, the VWWP plans to develop services that utilize innovative technologies such as telemedicine and telepsychiatry.

Catherine Wilson, Executive Director of the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program, said, “The fact that we now have significant data to support the needs of veterans and families in Virginia contributed greatly to the strength of our grant proposal and to our ultimate success.”

Earlier this month, the VWWP released the results of a statewide study conducted by the Virginia Tech Institute on Policy and Governance entitled, Assessing the Experiences, Supportive Service Needs and Service Gaps of Veterans in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The study revealed that veterans, particularly those who live in rural areas, want and need more information about the services available to them through the VA and other sources. Many indicated they would like to get their medical care from community providers who have been trained to understand how to treat the unique needs resulting from military service. Members of the National Guard and Reserves, many of whom live in rural areas, have experienced higher rates of multiple deployments during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. The Virginia Tech research reveals that these historically high rates of multiple deployments result in greater health, financial, employment, and personal strain on service members.

Department of Veterans Services Commissioner Paul Galanti praised the VWWP for its success in obtaining federal resources to complement services funded by state appropriations. Since its inception in 2008, the VWWP has augmented state funding with grants totaling nearly $770,000.

Galanti commented, “We know that the VA, the state, local governments, and community providers must work together to meet the needs of veterans and their families affected by combat stress and traumatic brain injuries. We are fortunate to have the support of the Virginia Department of Health as well as many other public and private agencies and organizations in helping us develop timely, effective and responsive services for veterans and their families.”