Office of Rural Health (ORH)
About the VHA Office of Rural Health
The mission of ORH is to improve access and quality
of care for enrolled rural and highly rural Veterans by
developing evidence-based policies and innovative
practices to support the unique needs of enrolled
Veterans residing in geographically remote areas.
Our mission and programs are carried out under
the leadership of Gina Capra, M.P.A., Director.
Read other Office of Rural Health staff
Currently, 3.2 million rural Veterans are enrolled in the VA system. This represents 36% of the total enrolled Veteran population based on the 2010 US Census. Men and women Veterans from geographically rural areas make up a disproportionate share of service members and comprise about 30% of the enrolled Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) Veterans; many of whom are returning to their rural communities.
Individuals living in rural areas have traditionally been underserved with regard to health care access. The reasons for this are multiple and varied, but mainly stem from the need to travel long distances to health care facilities, lack of health insurance, lack of specialized care and an inadequate number of health care providers working in rural areas. As a result, rural populations tend to be in poorer health; in fact, a study by the Office of Health and Human services estimates that half of the adults living in rural areas suffer from a chronic health condition. With regard to rural Veterans, there are the additional health complications associated with combat exposure such as PTSD, depression, and traumatic brain injury.
In order to better serve rural Veterans, VA created the Office of Rural Health in 2007. Located in the Office of the Assistant Deputy Undersecretary for Policy and Planning of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the mission of ORH is to improve access and quality of health care for all Veterans through a combination of community based clinic expansion, increased partnerships with non-VA rural providers, increased use of telemedicine and information technology and a new effort to recruit and retain health care providers to rural areas.
View the ORH Fact Sheet for more information about rural Veterans and the Office of Rural Health.
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