DoT grants to simplify how veterans find transportation options

Thursday - 7/5/2012, 6:53pm EDT

By Esther Carey
Special to Federal News Radio

Help is on the way for veterans and their families looking for assistance in finding affordable public transportation. The Transportation Department awarded $29 million to 64 projects in 33 states and the Northern Mariana Islands Monday that will give former military personnel easier access to work, school and medical care.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the projects are part of the Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative, overseen by the Federal Transit Administration. The initiative aims to help local transit agencies establish technology options that simplify access for veterans and others to schedule rides on existing transportation systems.

One of the grant recipients is in Dayton, Ohio, who is using $450,000 to make it easier for veterans and disabled persons to arrange rides by phone, smartphone or on the Web. Another example is a $1.4 million project in Lee County, Fla. which will include installing schedule information kiosks at various locations frequented by veterans, such as a new Veterans Health Administration outpatient clinic.

"America's war heroes deserve a chance to support their families, participate in their communities, receive job training and get to work," said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff in a release. "It's vitally important that we remove barriers to success by making transportation available wherever our veterans choose to live, work and receive care."

FTA received 81 proposals requesting $41 million for the initiative's second round of grant funding. During the first round in fiscal 2011, 55 projects received a total of $34.6 million. The Obama administration has promised about $1 billion a year in discretionary resources to expand and improve public transportation.

The Federal Interagency Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility, a permanent partnership of federal departments working together to better coordinate federal programs on behalf of people with disabilities, older adults and individuals with lower incomes, developed the grant program. LaHood is the chairman of the council.

This story is part of Federal News Radio's daily DoD Report brought to you by United Health Military and Veterans Services. For more defense news, click here.

Esther Carey is an intern at Federal News Radio.

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