Minn. gets $1M grant to improve transportation for vets

Veterans transportation press conference
Jean Wood, director of the Minnesota Board on Aging, center, explains how the state will enhance an existing website and call center to include information on transportation services at a press conference in St. Paul, Minn. on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011. Wood is joined by Tom Sorel, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Transportation, MnDOT's Mike Schadauer, and Peter Rogoff, head of the Federal Transit Administration.
MPR Photo/Laura Yuen

Minnesota is one of more than 30 states receiving a grant aimed at helping veterans and their families stay mobile in their communities.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation received $1.2 million to better connect military families in rural areas with transportation.

Peter Rogoff, the head of the Federal Transit Administration, said the program grew out of a desire to better serve returning veterans.

"Our fighting men and women are more likely to die of suicide after they return home than they are in the battlefield overseas," Rogoff said. "That means the battle for the lives of our American servicemen and women are being fought right here at home."

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It's important that veterans can get to doctor's appointments and job training, Rogoff said.

"Transportation is often the big hindrance to people getting the services they need," Rogoff said.

The grant won't put more wheels on the road, but will update a statewide call center and website to include information on transportation services. The resources are aimed at veterans, but will be open to all.

MnDOT officials say they'll focus their efforts first in southwest Minnesota. The state plans to expand into west-central and northeastern Minnesota over the next few years.