WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, Ranking Member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, announced this afternoon a new federal grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs to assist rural Maine veterans. The $50,000 grant to the Maine VFW will help provide transportation for about 1,100 veterans in Piscataquis County.
"This funding provides critical support in helping our rural veterans more easily access high-quality healthcare," said Michaud. "One of the biggest challenges facing our veterans in rural areas is receiving good care close to home -- rather than traveling hours to Togus. That's why I've worked hard to bring and keep Project ARCH in Maine, and expand the CBOCs in the state. But we also must think about what else we can do to actually get veterans in the doors of these clinics -- and providing funding for transportation options, like this grant does, is a big part of that."
Michaud has a long record of working successfully to improve access to high-quality healthcare for Maine's rural veterans. Michaud included a provision in a law that brought Project ARCH (Access Received Closer to Home) to Maine in 2008, resulting in the program coming to Cary Medical Center in Caribou in 2011. Michaud successfully secured ARCH's renewal recently as part of the 2014 VA reform legislation, which he played a lead role in negotiating.
Michaud also has worked to increase access to healthcare for rural veterans beyond the ARCH program. He authored a provision of law which directed the VA to develop a business plan for enhanced access to outpatient care for Maine veterans. As a result, Michaud was able to work with the VA and Maine veterans to bring Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs) to Lewiston and Bangor, and a new health care access point to Houlton.
Last month, Michaud announced that Maine was receiving a $2 million grant as part of VA's Rural Veterans Coordination Pilot (RVCP). The investment aims to help rural veterans and their families as they transition from military service to civilian life. The RVCP was originally included in the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010. Michaud helped pass the legislation and served as the Ranking Member of the Health Subcommittee at the time.