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On World AIDS Day, New Mexico activists say more money is needed for prevention; ND farmers still navigate corporate land-ownership policy maze; Unpaid caregivers in ME receive limited financial grants.

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken urges Israel to protect civilians amid Gaza truce talks, New York Rep. George Santos defends himself as his expected expulsion looms and CDC director warns about respiratory illness as flu season begins.

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Congress has iced the Farm Bill, but farmer advocates argue some portions are urgent, the Hoosier State is reaping big rewards from wind and solar, and opponents react to a road through Alaska's Brooks Range, long a dream destination for hunters and anglers.

Sen. Udall Targets Better Care for Veterans in Rural NM

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014   

SANTA FE, N.M. - U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., is co-sponsoring a bill that could improve access to health services for veterans living in rural areas.

Udall spokeswoman Jennifer Talhelm said the "Rural Veterans Improvement Act" would benefit the estimated 6 million veterans who live in rural communities, partly by improving their transportation options to Veterans Administration facilities in urban areas.

"Having to drive in some cases hours to get to Albuquerque or other VA locations so that they can get care. And if you have a job or if you aren't able to drive yourself, it's a real hardship."

Talhelm cited reports of some veterans in New Mexico having to drive four hours or more to get to a VA hospital, and added that many rural veterans also are frustrated by their lack of health-care options and the frequent turnover among staff at local clinics.

The bill prioritizes improving rural VA facilities and working in some areas with non-VA providers. It also puts more focus on hiring and retaining employees at rural health-care facilities and beefing up mental-health resources for vets suffering the effects of wars in the Middle East, Talhelm said - “veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from what are, unfortunately, the signature wounds of those wars, PTSD and traumatic brain injury."

The Rural Veterans Improvement Act is co-sponsored by Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev. Information about the bill from Udall’s office is online at tomudall.senate.gov.


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