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New Pilot Initiative Aimed at Connecting Veterans to Health Care

SHERIDAN  The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the State of Wyoming launched a new pilot program to connect Veterans in rural areas with telehealth and mental health resources.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) and Wyoming State Parks posted flyers at rest areas across Wyoming to help connect Veterans to VA resources while they are traveling. The flyers share information about Veterans’ telehealth options, the closest VA location, and the Veterans Crisis Line — empowering Veterans to access care based on their emergent, urgent, or routine health care needs.

VA collaborated with the State of Wyoming as an early adopter because of its status as the least populous state, per the 2020 U.S. Census. As the country’s tenth largest state, Wyoming maintains more than 6,900 miles of highways, to include the Interstate Highway System and State Highway System. VA worked closely with WYDOT to provide the information at 33 rest areas across the state.

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“WYDOT is happy to take part in any initiative that helps support and take care of our Veterans,” said Luke Reiner, WYDOT Director. “While Wyoming is the least populated state, we see a high volume of both tourist and commercial traffic on our highways. Many of those drivers could benefit from these services and this is a great way to ensure they know what options are available.”

A large part of this collaboration is also the focus on access to mental health care while Veterans are traveling. Wyoming State Parks supports the quality of life for all Wyomingites, so the endeavor is a fitting opportunity.

“Wyoming State Parks is actively working with the Department of Veterans Affairs in an effort to promote the mental health benefits of spending time outdoors,” said Deputy Director Nick Neylon, “and we look forward to developing other opportunities for Veterans around the state.”

This effort is also a reflection of the importance VA places on collaborating with community and governmental organizations where Veterans receive care. The Sheridan VA Health Care System provides that care to Wyoming Veterans in three quarters of the state, while the Cheyenne VA Health Care System provides care in the southeastern portion of the state.

“Serving the Veterans who served our nation is an all hands effort,” said Sheridan VA Health Care System Pam Crowell. “The Cheyenne VA Director Paul Roberts and I appreciate this collaboration with the State of Wyoming to ensure all Veterans are aware of care options, even when traveling through our great state.”

Rural health care is often limited because of various challenges with funding, care requirements, and expansive geography. This campaign will help connect Veterans with VA resources and maintain their continuity of care within the VA health care system based upon the “Anywhere-to-Anywhere” Telehealth Practice Authority using VA Video Connect.

After rolling out the project in Wyoming, VA plans to continue the initiative in other rural states.

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