MISSOULA – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has opened a new video telehealth site at the University of Montana designed to help student and faculty member veterans receive convenient VA care.

UM will house one of two Montana Accessing Telehealth through Local Area Stations (ATLAS) sites on its Missoula campus at the Military and Veterans Services Office, located at 1000 E. Beckwith Ave. The state’s other ATLAS site is at Montana State University in Bozeman.

“This is groundbreaking,” said Pat Beckwith, director of UM Military and Veteran Services. “No other universities in the nation provide VA telehealth services like this on their campuses. We are excited about this opportunity. It’s an innovative and collaborative way to better serve our military-affiliated students and staff.”

Beckwith said the ATLAS site will assist the 1,400 military-affiliated students who attend UM, which this year earned a Gold ranking for being a Military Friendly School from MilitaryFriendly.com.

“We appreciate the VA selecting our campus for this service,” said UM President Seth Bodnar, himself a military veteran. “We are working toward becoming the most military- and veteran-friendly campus in the nation, and this helps us build momentum toward that goal.”

ATLAS provides comfortable, private spaces equipped with high-speed internet access, site attendant support and the technology needed for video telehealth visits through VA Video Connect, VA’s secure videoconferencing app. The ATLAS sites give student and faculty veterans enrolled in VA care through the Montana VA Health Care System the option to connect with their VA providers at either campus.

ATLAS enables VA to provide services that do not require hands-on exams. These services include mental health appointments, nutrition counseling, select primary care visits and social work assistance. The sites eliminate potential barriers to care such as long travel times, transportation costs and poor internet connectivity – particularly in remote areas.

“One in 10 Montanans are veterans,” said Judy Hayman, the Montana VA executive director. “Across Montana, we have seen the power of partnerships to help connect veterans to the services they have earned. Our partners at (UM and MSU) are a strong example of how Montanans innovate to support our Veterans.”

Veterans who want to schedule an appointment at either Montana ATLAS site can call 877-468-8387. To learn more about the ATLAS site at UM, visit Military and Veteran Services Office at the University of Montana. For more on the ATLAS pilot program, visit the VA Office of Connected Care website.

- by UM News Service -

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