MISSOULA — Veterans living in rural areas of Northwest Montana will be able to receive VA health services without having to travel long distances for the first time ever.
Thanks to an alliance between the Veterans of Foreign Wars, VA, global health care leader Philips and the American Legion, veterans can conduct virtual appointments through a pilot program dubbed "ATLAS" -- which stands for Accessing Telehealth through Local Area Stations.
The program launched its first installation at VFW Post 6786 in Eureka on Wednesday. Veterans will benefit from virtual appointments in familiar surroundings conducted by VA medical professionals under the new program which removes geographic and digital barriers.
“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 which present challenges to delivering health care such as long travel times to facilities or limited Internet connection.
“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.”