Improving Veteran Mobility in Small Urban & Rural Areas

(Center Identification Number: 79050-02-A)

Background

The need for veteran transportation is growing rapidly. Currently, for every fatality in Iraq, there are 16 wounded or injured soldiers. This represents an injury rate five times greater than the Vietnam War (Walsh 2010). Forty percent of veterans live in rural areas that often present transportation challenges. Many rural area veterans must travel extremely long distances to receive medical care, and veterans living in rural areas are reported to be in poorer health than veterans living in urban areas (Westat and Rubino 2011). Also, many wounded veterans require assistance regarding mobility for life essential activities as well as employment.

Research Objective

The objective of this research is to identify veterans with mobility needs currently living in rural North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana.  The cost of providing different transportation options will be quantified in relation to meeting their medical needs as well as other life essential activities.

Research Approach/Methods

Task 1

Conduct a literature review of pertinent information related to veteran mobility needs and the role of transportation in addressing those needs.

Task 2

Develop a survey that can be targeted towards veterans who have various mobility needs. Based on literature review findings, determine what questions will address the mobility gaps that currently exist.

Task 3

Develop a survey to gain information from a transportation provider perspective related to their current veteran transportation services and costs. Questions will also focus on what needs transportation providers have related to veteran mobility.

Task 4

Conduct conference calls and/or focus group meetings with specific veteran groups and transportation providers to gather more specific information related to veteran mobility services and gaps that currently exist. Also, determine the adverse effects associated with veteran transportation providers not being able to serve locations that are not considered medical.

Task 5

Determine applicable costs associated with providing transportation services to veterans via different modes. These modes may include:

  • Transit agency demand-response services
  • Veteran medical transportation providers
  • Human service agency services
  • Volunteer drivers using vans from an agency
  • Volunteer drivers using their own vehicles
  • Veterans being transported by friends and family
  • Veterans transporting themselves using their own vehicles, among others

Task 6

Quantify the costs associated with the previous mobility options. Develop a matrix to determine which costs relate to which services and the overlaps that may exist among transportation providers.

Task 7

Develop a simulation model to determine the most feasible transportation options for veterans and their families to consider when making mobility decisions. Costs will also be considered from a transportation provider perspective. The costs associated with the different modes mentioned in task 5 will be estimated, and all available costs will be estimated for veterans and their families as well as transportation providers. This will allow both the veterans and providers to make more informed decisions while considering multiple transportation options.

Task 8

Develop a report based on findings from the literature review, survey results, meetings, and simulation model.

Contributions/Potential Applications of Research

The need for greater veteran mobility in rural and small urban areas is increasing. Findings from this research will highlight these mobility needs and gaps. Costs for veterans and transportation providers will also be quantified. Results will allow policy makers to make better informed decisions regarding veteran mobility issues in rural and small urban settings.

Project Schedule

July 1, 2012 to December 2013

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