WASHINGTON – After pressure from Senator Hassan, acting on concerns raised by NH DAV, the Department of Veterans Affairs has cleared the New Hampshire application backlog for volunteers who drive veterans to medical appointments.
Senator Hassan has pushed VA officials to address the backlog issue, including at a hearing earlier this year, and the VA has now cleared the New Hampshire backlog. As follow up, Senator Hassan is leading a bipartisan push to address the backlog nationwide and make sure that it does not happen in New Hampshire in the future.
“After Senator Hassan started pushing the VA for action to address the volunteer driver backlog, our local VA worked to address this issue and make sure that volunteers can participate in this important program,” said Rick Borrazas, Commander, NH DAV. “But the problem persists throughout our region and the country, and we need to make sure that the New Hampshire backlog doesn’t happen again. I appreciate Senator Hassan pressing the VA Secretary to put forward a straightforward, timely volunteer process so that DAV volunteer drivers can help get veterans to their appointments now and in the future.”
In a letter to the VA Secretary, Senator Hassan along with Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) are pressing the VA for a permanent solution.
“In rural areas across the country, a pressing concern of veterans is access to transportation to get to and from appointments,” the Senators wrote to VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “This is especially true for veterans unable to drive themselves to and from medical appointments for financial or medical reasons. The VTN has stepped in to fill that gap, with the DAV [Disabled American Veterans] providing volunteer drivers, and even covering costs. Despite the difference these efforts make for veterans, the DAV continues to struggle to receive reciprocal support from VA, which is not certifying volunteer drivers in a timely manner.”
They continued, “We are calling on VA to quickly develop and disseminate a straightforward, standardized and timely process for certifying volunteer drivers…Once this process is finalized, VA should undergo a concerted effort to not only disseminate the updated guidance, but also seek out and recruit volunteers, especially those who began the certification process but discontinued it after facing too much bureaucracy to continue.”
Read the Senators’ full letter HERE.