During the past several years, there has been growing recognition that America’s military service members, veterans, and their families need more and better transportation services. World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War veterans are aging, and service members from the 10-year-long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been leaving their families to serve multiple tours of duty, often returning with significant physical and emotional injuries. Many of these people who have served our country are often challenged by lack of mobility and inadequate access to healthcare, employment, education, training, shopping, social, and other activities. In particular, military service members and veterans from rural areas and small towns have mobility problems because travel distances are longer and fewer transportation services are available. The health, economic and social well being, and overall quality of life of our military community are being seriously affected as a result. This situation causes considerable costs to military service members, veterans, and their families; to the government; and to our entire society.
Important efforts have been made to support, provide, and improve transportation services for military service members, veterans, and their families, with special emphasis on healthcare-related trips. These include efforts by (1) the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA); (2) volunteer initiatives from the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and other veterans organizations; (3) public transportation providers in rural, urban, and metropolitan areas throughout the United States; and (4) the new Federal Interagency Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility (CCAM), Veterans’ Transportation and Community Living Initiative (VTCLI) which helps individuals connect to a variety of community transportation service options needed to access healthcare, employment, education, and other services. (This initiative can serve as an incubator of new ideas to improve mobility for America’s military service members, veterans, and their families.)
Although progress has been made, the need for research that supports improved mobility for America’s military service members, veterans, and their families is still great. Additional research is needed to further define the mobility needs, further improve transportation services, make more efficient use of resources, and provide improved access to healthcare, employment, education, training, shopping, social, and other activities.