More than a quarter of Arizona veterans and their families live in rural communities. Be Connected is partnering around the state to strengthen access to care and connection to resources for our veteran community.
One program that we launched in late 2019, in collaboration with the University of Arizona Center for Rural Health is called Rural Arizona Connects. The goal of this program is to improve the health and wellness of Arizona’s rural veterans, typically an underserved population without access to the same level and diversity of resources that veterans in metropolitan and larger cities have.
To achieve our goal to connect rural Arizona veterans to resources and support to address health, wellness, financial, employment and social needs, we started by sharing the Be Connected support line, 866-4AZ-VETS (866-429-8387). The support line is a direct connection to specially trained, Arizona-based navigators who know and understand veteran issues because most of our navigators are veterans themselves or are a member of a veteran’s family.
Additionally, the Rural Arizona Connects program provides training, materials and technical assistance to Arizona’s Critical Access Hospitals and Rural Health Clinics so they can engage and connect veteran and family member patients.
Additionally, the project included two roadside billboards featuring Be Connected in southern Arizona, near Benson and Wilcox. We also connected rural veterans by sending them a complimentary printed copy of The Connected Veteran magazine. The publication contained success stories of Arizona veterans who contacted the support line as well as a listing of the ways in which people can access support or refer someone they know to Be Connected to receive support.
The Rural Arizona Connects project was supported by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona’s Mobilize AZ public health initiative. The project will continue in 2021, focusing on strengthening support, connection to resources and access to care for Arizona veterans and their families.