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The Veterans Administration and the State of Wyoming launch a campaign to raise awareness about veteran health care options

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The Veterans Administration and the State of Wyoming have launched a new campaign that connects veterans that are traveling with telehealth and mental health resources. The collaborative effort also aims to raise awareness of these resources for veterans who live in rural areas by posting flyers in public areas such as rest areas throughout the state with information about them, including the nearest VA location, the veteran’s crisis line, and telehealth options.

“It’s not so much that there's a new program in place, this campaign is just to help get the word out,” said Kristina Miller, public information officer for the Sheridan VA. “That's something that we are always trying to share more information on because there are so many people in our communities that don't think they can receive care through this virtual means. And it is, especially in this day in age, [it’s] really easy.”

The awareness campaign is part of a larger regional initiative that includes states with smaller populations.

“This endeavor actually is a multi-state effort,” she added. “[The] Sheridan VA Health Care System is part of a regional network for the Rocky Mountain area. And that entity was looking at how we could reach veterans that were traveling.”

The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) and the Wyoming State Parks, Trails, and Historic Sites are the two state agencies that are participating in the campaign.

“WYDOT is happy to take part in any initiative that helps support and take care of our veterans,” said WYDOT Director Luke Reiner in a release. “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.”

Miller said that because of the reach that these state agencies have, it was decided that partnering with them could help further get their message out.

“We know for instance, here in Wyoming, we have a lot of snowbirds who take advantage of a warmer weather when the snow flies and then there's also of course, veterans that travel through our wonderful state where they're going to Yellowstone National Park or one of our other great tourist destinations,” she added. “What we wanted to do is make sure that veterans know that no matter where their travels are taking them, VA health care is available to them, wherever they're at, even if it's camping.”

Miller said efforts to distribute flyers statewide is underway and will be posted at all of the rest areas across the state in addition to restaurants, bars, and other eateries where they’re publicly visible.

“So that if a veteran is traveling, whether for pleasure or long term travel of some other sorts, they know that they can access health care while they're traveling through telehealth resources, because what we don't want is veterans to have to alter plan to work around health care, we want health care to be available to them no matter where they're at, even if it's in between destination[s],” she added.

Telehealth services have become more popular in recent years with both private health care providers and the VA investing in this technology. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the options veterans have to make an in-person appointment at a VA facility or outreach clinic for care even if they’re outside their home area. Miller emphasized that a wide array of health care services are readily available for those who seek them out, which includes mental health services in addition to other more specialized medical areas such as rheumatology, which has become a common source of telehealth visits that Sheridan facility offers veterans. The State of Montana is also partnering with the VA to offer a pilot program similar to what’s being carried out in the Cowboy State.

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
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