Pappas, Young, Stefanik Introduce Legislation to Permanently Authorize the VA’s Highly Rural Veteran Transportation Program

June 8, 2021
Press Release
Legislation arrives ahead of the program’s expiration at the end of FY 2022

Today, Congressman Chris Pappas (D-NH), Chair of the House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Congressman Don Young (R-AK), Dean of the House and U.S. Army Veteran, and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Chair of the House Republican Conference introduced legislation to permanently reauthorize the Highly Rural Veteran Transportation Program within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This critical program allows State Veterans Service Agencies and Veteran Service Organizations to provide no-cost transportation services to VA or VA-authorized health care facilities to veterans in highly rural areas. Other original cosponsors include Representatives Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-OR), Cindy Axne (D-IA), Pete Stauber (R-MN), Yvette Harrell (R-NM), and Aumua Amata (R-AS).

Under current law, this program must be reauthorized every two years by Congress. With so many veterans relying on the Highly Rural Veteran Transportation Program to secure the health care benefits they have earned, it is critical to provide peace of mind and certainty by permanently reauthorizing it.

“The zip code or county in which a veteran lives should not determine their level of access to the care and services they have earned through their service to our country,” said Congressman Pappas. “This bipartisan legislation to permanently authorize the Highly Rural Veteran Transportation Grant program is so critical to guarantee that the 4.7 million veterans living in the most rural parts of our country have access to no-cost transportation to get care at the VA or VA-authorized facilities. I remain committed to working in a bipartisan fashion to make it easier for those who have worn the uniform of our country to receive care and to ensure that veterans do not have to fight another battle to live a healthy, full life when they return home.”

“I am committed to ensuring that the rural veterans who put their lives on the line for us are not forgotten,” said Congressman Young. “Since its creation, I have always supported reauthorizing the Highly Rural Veterans Program. It is no secret that too often, we as a Congress have engaged more in partisan bickering than legislating. A program as important as this one should not be used as a negotiating tool or to gain political leverage. Our veterans are not props, and they deserve the certainty and peace of mind that comes with permanent reauthorization. Our heroes face enough challenges as it is, and they should never have to worry about whether they will be able to find transportation to their medical appointments. Today, I am very proud to introduce legislation to permanently authorize the Highly Rural Veterans Transportation Program, which is crucially important to veterans across our vast state. I want to thank Congresswoman Stefanik and Congressman Pappas for their partnership on this bill. I look forward to our continued work together on behalf of those who sacrificed for our freedom. As a veteran myself, I want my friends on both sides of the aisle to know how important this cause is to me. I call on my colleagues to support this bipartisan legislation, and to help up get it across the finish line.”

“As the proud home to Fort Drum, the Navy’s Kesselring Site, the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base, and more veterans and retirees than any other Congressional District in New York State, critical, high-quality care for our veterans is of the utmost importance and much needed,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “This bill will ensure the Highly Rural Veterans Transportation Grant Program is permanently funded so veterans in the North Country and rural areas across America continue to receive the care they both need and deserve.”  

Read the full bill text here.