The CNMI Veterans Affairs office recently met with military officials in Hawaii to discuss medical transportation for veterans in the CNMI.
Veterans Affairs executive director Stanley T. Iakopo noted that the 515th Air Mobility Operations Wing’s Colonel Craig Harmon, Wing Commander, Colonel Scott Wiederholt, Vice Wing Commander, and Chief Master Sergeant Chad Nixon, Command Chief in Hawaii, were receptive regarding opportunities for veteran’s medical transportation between Saipan, Tinian, and Rota through Hawaii for critical medical appointments.
“Our veterans are struggling to pay for airfare just to get to their medical treatment. Although it’s reimbursable, it can take way too long to get to get reimbursed from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The goal is to provide CNMI veterans with better transportation and access to health care providers for specific treatments,” Iakopo said.
Iakopo added that veterans with a permanent disability rating of 100% can fly for free under Space-A travel within the country.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres noted that establishing a community-based outpatient clinic for veterans in the CNMI has been an ongoing endeavor but, in the meantime, pursuing solutions for veteran medical transportation remains a critical priority.
“Our Veterans Affairs Office is really pushing forward and starting this discussion for the benefit of our veterans and all service members in our Commonwealth and the region. Health care remains a priority and this is a first step to a constructive and cooperative dialogue between our administration and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. I look forward to more conversations with our VA partners and garnering increased regional support for this effort,” Torres said. (PR)