U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced the availability of $30 million for a new Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative, which will soon make it easier for servicemen and women, their families, veterans and people with disabilities to access transportation services in their communities."Our nation is tremendously grateful for the sacrifices America's armed forces and their families are making," said Secretary LaHood. "This new initiative will help ensure that getting a ride to work, daycare or to a medical appointment is no longer an obstacle."
The Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative will award competitive capital assistance grants from to local transportation providers and other groups around the country so they may better coordinate and deliver important information through "one-call" or "one click" centers.
This approach means that with just one phone call, or through a familiar website, military families can readily learn, for instance, about the availability of commuter van services that travel to employment centers, vehicles equipped with wheelchair lifts that can provide rides to a local rehab center or buses that stop by the local mall. Typically, such information is not available in one convenient place. Better coordination will also help transit operate more cost-effectively by eliminating redundant service and outreach.
"Military families and veterans must be able to take full advantage of the transportation resources in their communities," said Peter Rogoff, administrator of the Federal Transit Administration. "Every service member who returns home or relocates to a new community should have a reliable ride to earn a reliable paycheck."
The initiative is being launched under the auspices of the federal Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility (CCAM), which is chaired by Secretary LaHood. CCAM is a permanent partnership of federal departments working together to better coordinate federal programs on behalf of people with disabilities, the elderly and low-income individuals.
In addition to the Department of Transportation, which is contributing $30 million from the Federal Transit Administration's Bus and Bus Facilities Program, two other CCAM member agencies are contributing money and support. The Department of Veterans Affairs' Transportation and Community Living Initiative is contributing up to $3 million for the VA health care network to coordinate veterans' transportation needs with community transportation systems. The Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy is contributing $250,000 for social media tools and training to include veterans and the military in community transportation decision-making. The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense are also lending critical support, in part through their extensive networks of community-based advocates. Additional in-kind support is provided by over a dozen national veteran service organizations.
The Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative reflects the Obama Administration's commitment to meet the needs of America's fighting forces through its Joining Forces program, which gives our service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned.