Gov. Steve Beshear says a federal grant has been approved that will help veterans find local, affordable transportation services, but it may be a year before the program is in place.
“So many veterans that are struggling to get their bills paid and just making ends meet, transportation often goes first,” said Pat McKiernan, Kentucky’s Department of Veterans Affairs homeless outreach coordinator.
“They can’t afford to pay their car. They can’t afford to get their insurance. So therefore they’re focusing on just keeping the lights on, keeping the rent paid, and this kind of transportation is essential,” he said.
The $800,000 grant from the Federal Transit Administration will support a central call center in Frankfort, which will partner with regional transportation services in supporting the Kentucky Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative. In some cases Medicaid patients will receive free transportation, others may be directed to public transit, said Chuck Wolfe with Kentucky’s transportation cabinet.
But implementation of the program will depend on when the federal government releases the funds and that will be sometime next year, he said.
By then, Kentucky’s veteran population should swell as all troops come home from the Iraq War; and while Louisville’s Robley Rex VA said it can handle the expected increases, veterans showing up may be a separate issue.