WASHINGTON, D.C.-U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has announced $29 million in grants to provide improved access to local transportation for veterans and their families, wounded warriors, and other military personnel, helping them find affordable rides to work, school, shopping, medical care, and other destinations in their communities. The grants will support 64 projects in 33 states and the Northern Mariana Islands.
“Ensuring that our veterans and military families have access to quality, convenient transportation is just one way we can thank them for their service,” said Secretary LaHood. “With these transportation grants, we will help connect veterans and military families with the jobs and training opportunities they deserve, as well as the medical care and other services they need, all located close to home.”
In the CNMI, the Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority will build and equip a One-Call/One-Click Center to coordinate current specialized transit and future public transportation services for hundreds of veterans and military personnel who live on the islands.
The Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative, funded and managed by the Federal Transit Administration, supports efforts by local governments and transit agencies to implement technologies-ranging from “smart phone” applications to real-time transit bus locator information-that make it easier for veterans and others to access and schedule rides on available buses, vans, taxis, and other transportation systems. The unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is more than 12 percent, more than four percentage points above the national average.
“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, who was in Lee County, Florida, for the announcement. “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 eligible proposals requesting $41 million for this second round of the Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative grants, reflecting strong demand for the program. In FY2011, FTA awarded $34.6 million for 55 veterans' transportation projects around the country.
The Obama Administration has committed roughly a $1 billion a year in discretionary resources to help communities around the nation build and expand light rail, commuter rail, bus rapid transit, and other forms of public transportation to connect American families, including our nation's returning veterans, with jobs, education, medical care and other vital services.
The Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative was developed by 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. The Council is chaired by LaHood. (DOT)