“Go Vets” Program Encourages Veterans to Connect with Transportation Options and Each Other

By: Hannah Mullin, Senior Programs Specialist, Alta Planning + Design

Nearly 21,000 Veterans live in Jackson County, Oregon alone, representing about 10 percent of the population.

While there are many great services for Veterans in the area, including medical facilities and employment assistance, transportation to and from these services can be a major challenge.

When Veterans lack transportation, or are unaware of the options available to them, it can limit employment opportunities, social interactions, and access to healthcare. In short, transportation problems are quality of life problems for people who have served our country.

The Rogue Valley Transportation District (RVTD) recognized this, and with Alta’s strategic support, implemented Go Vets, a three-month program developed by Veterans, for Veterans to lower the barriers to accessing transportation options.

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Knowing that Veterans are the best experts on what their own needs are, RVTD hired Veterans as outreach ambassadors. These leaders brought their own ideas and insights about messages and outreach tactics that would be effective, and they reached Veterans through barbecues, organized bus rides, and door-to-door outreach.

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“When it comes to transportation, Veterans need a champion,” said Paige West, RVTD’s Planning & Strategic Programs Manager. “We need to make transit, biking, and walking more approachable by tailoring travel training tools specifically for them. And information is only a piece of why this program worked. Veterans are our heroes, yet being on a crowded bus and navigating through public places can be intimidating. The value of having someone, especially a fellow Veteran, be available in person to work with Go Vets participants was invaluable. It’s the main reason this program was so successful.”

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One of the ways Alta supported the program was by working with RVTD to design a travel training brochure. The brochure helped Veterans understand how riding the bus can increase their independence and freedom; how RVTD’s Veteran travel training program can help them learn skills to overcome challenges to riding the bus; and what trip planning tools are available to them.

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The team also created a custom map, showing bus and bike routes in the area. The map highlighted Veteran services in the area and provided a description and contact information for each service.

In addition to materials design and strategic advising, Alta supported the transit district with program evaluation. Survey results from before and after the program indicated that Go Vets succeeded in helping Veterans get to medical appointments, work, and social opportunities. Furthermore, the survey revealed a 39 percentage point decrease in Veterans missing medical appointments, a 26 percentage point decrease in Veterans missing work/employment programs, and a 41 percentage point decrease in Veterans missing social or recreational opportunities due to a lack of transportation.

“It’s not only important to think about the impact of mobility limitations and how we can help, but this type of program is also a way to start a conversation and open supportive partnerships with broader groups.” said Jessica Roberts, Principal at Alta.

Interested in implementing a similar program for Veterans in your community? Contact Senior Programs Specialist Hannah Mullin to get started.

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