The Alabama Veterans Rural Health Initiative aims to better understand the health care needs, health status, and barriers to care for rural veterans. Following extensive community outreach, Veteran Community Outreach Health Workers assessed 203 veterans residing in rural counties of Alabama who either: 1) had never enrolled in VA health services, or 2) had not used those services in at least two years. While 71.4 percent of participants reported having utilized non-VHA primary care within the past year, 33.5 percent reported an inability or delay in obtaining needed health care for one or more services: primary care, specialty care, mental health care, addictions treatment, dental care, or prescription medication. The most commonly cited barrier was cost. Among all participants, 56 percent screened positive for at least one Axis I mental disorder. Rurally residing, non-VHA utilizing veterans appear to have fairly good access to primary care, but need dental care, prescription medication, and mental health care.

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