Last week, Nevada senators Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto announced that they sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging the Administration to take a closer look at how proposed closures of veterans’ affairs’ health facilities could impact Nevada veterans. In the letter, they asked the president to refrain from applying recommendations that could destabilize rural Nevadan veterans’ access to VA healthcare.

“We are deeply concerned that the proposed closure of these VA health facilities would negatively impact local veterans, while also backtracking on the progress Congress and the VA have made over the past decade to improve care for veterans. The proposed changes could increase wait times for critically important medical appointments and increase the distance veterans will have to travel to seek care,” both Nevadan senators wrote in their letter. “While telehealth is listed as an option for care, some rural communities do not have access to a reliable high-quality internet connection, which could negatively impact access to telehealth.”

The veterans’ healthcare facility threatened to be closed are in Winnemucca and the Diamond View Clinic in Susanville.

The letter continues, “Community care is a wonderful option for so many of Nevada’s veterans, but it should remain just that- a choice. Taking away the choice of VA care could leave Nevada’s rural veterans without access to any health care at all. In addition to having to grapple with Nevada’s doctor shortage, many of our veterans who receive care from these facilities face difficulties accessing public transportation to reach medical appointments because they live in rural communities.”

Currently, the VA Sierra Health Care System offers a shuttle in Hawthorne to take veterans to their doctors’ appointments or closest VA hospital in Reno. The DAV shuttle runs on Tuesdays and Fridays out of Hawthorne that also services Yerington, Silver Springs, and Walker Lake. As of March 22, the VA Sierra Health Care System confirmed that its transportation options for veterans in Mineral County will continue with no disruption (however, the Winnemucca service that also includes Lovelock, Imlay, and Mills City is temporarily unavailable).

The Mineral County Care & Share senior services program also helps provide transportation and nutrition services for seniors ages 60 and older. Funded through the Aging and Disability Services Division of the State of Nevada, transportation for Mineral County seniors is free, but a mandatory donation is required to utilize those types of services for anyone under 60.

The VA Sierra Health Care shuttle is ran by volunteers and is kept at the Mineral County Sheriff’s Office. For more information about scheduling a ride from Mineral County to a VA location in Reno, call 775-945-9001. For more information about volunteering to be a van driver, call 775-829-5660. It is recommended when using the DAV shuttle to try to schedule your appointments between 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.