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Chapter 7 CONCLUSION At the time of this writing (2010), the issue of mobility for our veterans is characterized by A large number of veterans with substantial transportation needs, VA transportation expenses that are rapidly approaching $1 billion per year, and Numerous opportunities for improvements. The Department of Veterans Affairs offers some trips, primarily for medical purposes, to veterans who meet certain qualifications including degree of impairment, length of service, and financial status; veterans need other non-VA means of transportation for other (nonmedical) trips. VHA's costs for medical transportation have quintupled since FY 2001; its current costs of approximately $750 million per year make its Beneficiary Travel program the third-largest federal program for persons with special travel needs. VBA's Automobile Assistance program currently adds about another $66 million per year to VA's total expenses for transportation for veterans. A number of innovative community efforts for mobility improvements offer inspiration for possible approaches for large mobility improvements elsewhere. These efforts include special fares for veterans, joint dispatching, service contracts, feeder services, sharing vehicles, training drivers, and 79

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others. Above all, community transportation providers will need to be proactive in reaching out to veterans' organizations if significant improvements in coordination with veterans' transportation programs are to be achieved. To improve the mobility of veterans, broad scale, long-term efforts will be needed from key stake- holders at all levels: local, state, and federal. The continued involvement of relevant federal agencies is suggested. The new attention of the Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility to the issue of improving mobility for veterans is beneficial. States and localities can assist by supporting and expanding the kinds of innovative programs already under way. More immediate improvements can be initiated and implemented by local transportation providers. Instances of coordination of transportation services between community transportation providers and VA or VSOs are extremely limited at this time; where they do occur, they suggest the possibility of substantial benefits for all parties. There are significant opportunities for community transportation providers to increase their services to veterans, a market segment that they now seldom serve, and there are substantial opportunities for the VA and other groups serving veterans to increase the cost-effectiveness of their services. All of these improvements could substantially increase the mobility of veterans. 80