The number of veterans seeking care at Community Health Centers is growing dramatically. According to new data, the number of health center patients who are veterans grew by 43 percent in less than a decade to 305,000 from 214,000. Researchers at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at The George Washington University looked at data from 2008 to 2015. They say that nearly 9 in 10 health centers serve veterans, who are able to access a wide range of services in addition to primary care. For instance, 78 percent of health centers offer dental care, 83 percent provide mental health services, 21 percent offer substance abuse treatment.
Half of all health centers are certified by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as Veterans Choice providers under the special program established by Congress in legislation to improve access to community-based health care. The law was aimed at veterans who faced long wait times or traveled long distances for services at VA facilities.
“Our nation’s heroes should never have to stand in line for health care,” said Tom Van Coverden, President and CEO of NACHC. “We know the struggle veterans often face in medically underserved communities, where there are few or scarce options for care. Community Health Centers are proud to make a difference and reach out to veterans and their families with quality primary health care services when and where they need them.”
Community Health Centers not only serve veterans, they are also working hard to recruit and hire veterans as part of a national initiative NACHC launched more than three years ago. That effort has resulted in more than 5,000 veterans being hired at health centers around the country.
NACHC also recently joined with nearly 500 partner corporations and public sector agencies and signed an agreement with the U.S Army PaYS program [press release].