November 16, 2012
Theme Is ‘Celebrating the Power of Rural’
WASHINGTON – Yesterday, the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Rural Health (ORH) joined the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) and other state/national rural stakeholders in celebrating the second annual National Rural Health Day.
“National Rural Health Day events help bring attention to rural America, putting the spotlight on the many positive aspects of rural life as well as the health care needs of those living in rural communities,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “With such a large percentage of enrolled Veterans residing in rural and highly rural areas, we celebrate the great strides VA has made to improve access to care and focus on this significant population.”
NOSORH created National Rural Health Day to showcase rural America and increase awareness of rural health-related issues.
“National Rural Health Day gives NOSORH and its partners the opportunity to ‘Celebrate the Power of Rural’ and showcase the good works of America’s 59.5 million rural citizens,” said NOSORH Director Teryl Eisinger. “It also allows us to highlight the unique health care issues being faced by rural citizens and promote the efforts of NOSORH, State Offices of Rural Health (SORHs) and their partners in addressing those issues.”
ORH was pleased to join in “Celebrating the Power of Rural” and to raise awareness about ORH’s mission to improve access and quality of care for the 6.1 million Veterans living in rural areas. Currently, 3.4 million rural Veterans are enrolled in the VA system, which represents 41% of the total enrolled Veteran population and 31.9% of those enrollees who served in recent conflicts. Men and women from geographically rural and highly rural areas make up a disproportionate share of Servicemembers. Many of these Servicemembers and Veterans are returning to their rural communities.
Through collaborations with VA program offices, other federal and state partners, and rural health communities, ORH has supported over 1,000 projects and implemented innovative programs that use state-of-the-art technology and evidence-based policies to support the unique needs of rural Veterans.
“ORH is committed to engaging in studies and analyses that identify best practices, and translating those best practices into policy and measurable impacts for rural Veterans,” said Byron Bair, M.D., acting ORH director. “We look forward to broadening our focus on rural women Veterans, finding and implementing innovative solutions to reduce health disparities, and continuing to close the access gap with telehealth and other cutting-edge technologies.”
Events recognizing National Rural Health Day and “Celebrating the Power of Rural” were held throughout the nation. Buck Richardson, CHEM and Jay Shore, M.D., MPH, joined Eisinger for a National Rural Health Day Webinar titled “Cultural Awareness to Help While Serving Native Veterans.” Richardson and Shore are both actively involved in the ORH Veterans Rural Health Resource Center – Western Regions “Native Domain” and working with American Indian/Alaskan Native Veterans.
Additional information on Rural Health Day can be found at www.celebratepowerofrural.org. For additional information about the VHA Office of Rural Health (ORH), please contact Nancy Maher at (202) 461-1774, Nancy.Maher@va.gov, or visit the ORH website at www.ruralhealth.va.gov.
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