Monday, November 11, 2013

Transportation for Veterans in Southern Nevada

By Whitney E. Gray

When servicewomen and men return from deployment abroad, they may have different needs, abilities, and skills from when they left. Veterans who are re-entering their communities must complete the same life activities as before, such as working and caring for family members, but service-related disabilities may make these tasks harder to take on. For veterans who are no longer able to drive, accessible transportation is crucial to make sure they can access medical care, get to work, and re-integrate into community life.

To better serve veterans, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) has developed the Veterans Medical Transportation Network (VMTN). VMTN provides free door-to-door medical-related transportation services to various Veterans Administration (VA) clinics and primary care physician offices. With one call, all veterans eligible to receive treatment as part of the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System (VASNHS) or who have a medical appointment may use the service along with a family member or caregiver accompanying them to their appointment.
An RTC bus. Photo via Clark County’s website.

The RTC also offers the Downtown & Veterans Medical Center Express (DVX) transit service to the VASNHS in North Las Vegas from the RTC’s transit hub, the Bonneville Transit Center in downtown Las Vegas, where riders can connect with other VMTN shuttles.

To help solidify and expand services for veterans, RTC applied for and received two grants from the Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative (VTCLI) in 2011 and 2012.  Through VTCLI, the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration, is awarding $29 million to help veterans, military families, and others connect to jobs and services in their communities by improving access to local transportation options. Ken Thompson, coordinator of technical and information services at Easter Seals Project ACTION, provides technical assistance to VTCLI grantees both online and over the phone to address questions about project implementation and outreach to the veteran community.

VTCLI grantees, as well as other communities, are encouraged to use the VTCLI Route to Community Engagement Toolkit. This eight-step process is designed to help transportation professionals and local military leaders reach out to veterans, military family members, and active duty service personnel to obtain information on their transportation needs and recommendations on how to meet those needs. For more resources to help your community enhance transportation services for veterans, visit ESPA's webpage on veterans' transportation

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