The VA announced last Friday, April 24, that, effective immediately, it will determine whether a veteran is eligible for the Veterans Choice Program by using the actual driving distance from a veteran’s home to the closest VA medical facility. Until now, a straight-line (as the crow flies) distance has been used to make that call.
Now, some of you may not think this is a big deal, but anyone who has spent time in rural areas knows that, while the crow can fly directly across fields, forests, rivers, lakes, etc., the road usually has to take the long way around these obstacles, adding miles to a trip. This change will nearly double the number of veterans who can use the Choice Card.
The VA is already sending out letters to notify those veterans who are now eligible for the Choice Program. Any eligible veteran who has not received a Choice Card or who has questions about the program may call (866) 606-8198.
In addition, the VA is changing the way it calculates beneficiary travel mileage by using the fastest route instead of the shortest distance. This change, effective immediately, means that the way mileage is calculated for the two programs will be consistent.