Very Rural Oregon Veterans Get A Lift

A unique medical transportation program for Oregon veterans has just cleared a major milestone. 500,000 miles. That’s more than the distance to the moon and back. Oregon’s Highly Rural Transportation Program has logged that many miles on the ground, driving vets to doctor appointments or medical facilities. The program, as its name implies, is for veterans living in the most remote parts of the state. According to the Census Bureau, “highly rural” is 7 or fewer people per square mile. Tyler Francke is spokesman for Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs. “Actually there are only 29 states in the country that even have one highly rural county by that definition,” says Francke. “In Oregon we have 10.” Each of those counties receives a VA grant of $50,000 to finance things like handicapped accessible vehicles and fuel. Francke says the average trip for a highly rural vet is 2 ½ hours. Over 2,300 Oregon veterans have been transported since the program started in 2014.