SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) – Many Oregon veterans living in rural areas will soon have an easier way to get to and from medical appointments, thanks to a program authorized by the Legislature that provided $500,000 in Lottery funding, including a Jefferson County project.
Last week, the Oregon Transportation Commission approved the first seven projects, totaling $230,000, under the Rural Veterans’ Healthcare Transportation Grant Program. The program is managed jointly by the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs and the Oregon Department of Transportation's Public Transportation Division.
One of the five recipients is Jefferson County, where $20,000 will go toward developing on-demand health care transit for veterans, expanding upon a 2013 pilot effort by Cascades East Transit.
The project, organizers said, "removes the barriers of geography and accessibility that have traditionally characterized providers in the area."
“These projects are an important investment in improving access to transportation for people who are often underserved,” said ODOT Public Transportation Division Administrator Karyn Criswell. “It’s helping fill a critical gap in rural communities around the state.”
“Our veterans deserve access to the best health care possible — wherever they choose to live,” said Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs Director Kelly Fitzpatrick. “This has always been true, but it has never been more critical than today, amid the threat posed by the continuing coronavirus pandemic.”
Public Transportation Division staff is preparing a second solicitation for the up to $220,000 in remaining funds. Certain counties and transit districts, along with all nine tribal governments, are eligible to apply for the funds. For more information, visit the Public Transportation funding programs page.