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Letter: Maintain air ambulance services for veterans and rural communities – Grand Forks Herald

To the editor,

The veteran community in North Dakota – especially in rural, remote areas – faces numerous barriers to health care. Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is proposing cuts to emergency airlift services.

The VA’s proposal would force the closure of air ambulance bases, resulting in a devastating loss of vital medical care for veterans, especially in rural communities. In a state like North Dakota, where distances between hospitals are great, this is a matter of life and death.

However, the bipartisan VA Emergency Transportation Access Act, co-sponsored by Senator Kevin Cramer, would require the VA to assess impacts, consult with veterans and medical personnel before taking action, and ensure that reimbursement rates for air ambulance services reflect the true costs of transporting patients.

These air ambulances occur during what is known as the “golden hour,” the first period after a traumatic injury when proper medical care can lead to significantly better outcomes. Without the high quality of care provided by air ambulances, the lives of veterans and rural Americans are at risk, including many in North Dakota.

We commend Cramer for standing up for veterans and supporting the VA Emergency Transportation Access Act. We urge the rest of Congress to support this bill to ensure veterans have access to this critical care.

Elijah Hubbard
Washington, DC

Hubbard is a communications and public affairs associate for Save Our Air Medical Resources (SOAR), a national campaign to preserve access to air medical services across the country, especially in rural communities.

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