GW researchers find jump in community care for vets

Researchers at the Milken Institute School of Public Health found that community health centers are providing more care for veterans. Hatchet file photo by Desiree Halpern | Photo Editor
Researchers at the Milken Institute School of Public Health found that community health centers are providing more care for veterans. Hatchet file photo.

This post was written by reporter Siri Nadler.

Researchers at the Milken Institute School of Public Health found that community health centers across the country are increasingly providing services to more veterans, according to a University release.

The research found that in less than 10 years, the number of veterans receiving health care has increased by 43 percent, from 213,841 to 305,520.

The Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative based at Milken led the project and found that 89 percent of health care centers provided care for veteran patients in 2015. Many of these community centers provide various services beyond primary care to veterans, like dental and mental health services.

Dan Hawkins, the senior vice president of public policy and research at the National Association of Community Health Centers, said in a release that these findings are especially important because many of the health centers serve communities with many low-income veterans.

“Veterans have given so much to their – and our – country, so community health centers are committed to providing the very best care to them every day,” Hawkins said in the release.

Overall, U.S. community health care centers provide care for 1.4 percent of veterans. In Vermont, more than 10 percent of veterans received health care, and in Alaska, Maine and West Virginia, between 5 and 10 percent of veterans received health care. Thirty states and D.C. serviced between 1 and 5 percent of veterans and the remaining 16 states serviced less than 1 percent of that population, according to an infographic developed by the researchers.

Additionally, half of all health centers are certified as “Veterans Choice” providers by the Department of Veterans Affairs. This congressional program aims to enhance access to care for veterans facing long wait times or long travel distances, according to the release.

Feygele Jacobs, the CEO and president of the RCHN Community Health Foundation, said in the release that community health centers have a long history of serving veterans.

“As the Veteran’s Administration works to improve access to essential services through partnerships and collaborations, health centers are ready and able partners to meet the unique needs of those who have served our country,” Jacobs said in the release.

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