ANDOVER, Mass. & KANSAS CITY, Mo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--For the first time ever, U.S. Veterans will be able to receive U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) health services at their local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) or American Legion (Legion) Posts through a multi-site pilot program dubbed ATLAS (Accessing Telehealth through Local Area Stations).
This first-of-its-kind telehealth initiative is the product of an alliance between the VFW, VA, global health care leader Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) and The American Legion, which allows Veterans to conduct virtual appointments with their VA providers without having to travel to a distant VA regional medical facility or outpatient clinic.
“Our goal is to make sure every Veteran has access to health care,” said VA Secretary, Robert Wilkie. “ATLAS eliminates another health care hurdle for Veterans living in rural areas or with limited Internet access, and it’s a great example of how public and private organizations can work together to solve the challenges of health care.”
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The program launched its first installation at VFW Post 6786 in Eureka, Montana. Other initial sites will be in Linesville, Pennsylvania at VFW Post 7842 and Los Banos, California at VFW Post 2487/American Legion Post 166. The first American Legion site will be in Springfield, VA at Post 176.
“VFW Post 6786 in downtown Eureka addresses the access challenge for local Veterans,” said VFW National Commander William J. “Doc” Schmitz. “Sitting inside state-of-the-art, private, Internet-connected health care pods developed and donated by Philips, Veterans will benefit from virtual appointments in familiar surroundings conducted by VA medical professionals. This removes geographic and digital barriers and is the latest way today’s VFW Posts are innovating to address the needs of our Veterans and their families.”
About a quarter of the nation’s nearly 20 million U.S. Veterans live in remote or rural areas. These rural areas provide challenges to delivering health care such as long travel times to facilities or limited Internet connection. Many rural Veterans may also live with multiple chronic, service-related disabilities or mobility limitations which further hinder their ability to easily access health care.
“I am very proud and honored to have our VFW Post as an ATLAS site,” said VFW Post 6786 Commander Rick Weldon. “Our Veterans currently expend a great deal of time and effort to reach the nearest VA clinic. ATLAS provides a solution to this issue that benefits both Veterans and VA staff.”