Salem VA Medical Center hoping to serve more veterans with new transportation program

By Alison Wickline - Reporter

SALEM, Va. - The Salem Veterans Affairs Medical Center has a new battle plan to help veterans get to and from home base.

"Since we started the project, we have noticed that we are definitely providing transportation to an increased number of veterans than we were ever able to previously provide it to," said Katelyn Peters, a social worker at the Salem VA.

Last year, VA Medical Center staff began looking at ways to maximize transportation options and not overlap with other community transportation agencies. Now the VA offers two transportation programs for veterans in need. 

Some veterans may find themselves eligible for beneficiary travel. By meeting ability and income requirements, veterans can either be transported or reimbursed for mileage if their appointment is approved. 

"If it's deemed medically justified by a VA health care provider for specialized transportation such as a wheelchair van or stretcher, we can also set up that transportation for our eligible veterans, as well," said Ashley Bradley, social work supervisor for the Salem VA.

But the main overhaul is the new fixed route bus system. The Salem VA runs routes to four different clinic locations -- Wytheville, Danville, Lynchburg and Staunton -- during the week. The buses can hold up to 32 passengers and, with that space, allow caregivers to ride along. VA staff members say the program has received a positive response so far, but they are still in the transition and trial period. They recommend that veterans with questions about the new system contact them. 

"Any veteran who needs assistance with transportation should go through a social worker. We can help them find out if they're eligible for transportation," said Megan Spence, a social worker at the Salem VA.

If you have questions about the transportation options, you can reach the Salem VA Medical Center at 540-982-2463 or click here to visit the website.

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