Veteran Charles Murray, 66, used to lug his heavy, 12-year-old laptop three miles on his bike to the local library in San Antonio. He endured the weight of the eight-pound laptop in his backpack, pedaling in the Texas summer heat because he couldn’t afford bus fare.
Once he arrived at the library, which was closed due to the pandemic, he would sit on the outdoor patio and use its Wi-Fi to conduct his VA telehealth appointments. Murray did not have broadband to participate in video visits from his home.
Murray isn’t alone in not having reliable internet access. According to the Federal Communications Commission, 15% of Veteran households do not have a way to connect to the internet at home. That’s why VA Telehealth Services has developed the Digital Divide Consult and the connected device program. The programs help qualifying Veterans receive VA-loaned equipment.
Murray’s VA clinical psychologist ordered a Digital Divide Consult for him. The consult determined his eligibility for programs to get the internet service he needed for VA telehealth.
“You need the internet right now, especially during the pandemic, to take part in health care, employment and education,” said Dr. Kevin Galpin, executive director of VA Telehealth Services. “It’s important that every Veteran has the ability to stay connected.”