In an effort to reach more rural veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs is adding telehealth diagnostic facilities at selected Walmarts and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts.

The VA announced in August a partnership with health technology company Philips to implement the Accessing Telehealth through Local Area Stations (ATLAS) pilot program at rural VFW posts in Linesville, Penn.; Los Banos, Calif.; and Eureka, Mont., Liz Carey reports for The Daily Yonder.

Walmart donated space and equipment in five stores across the country for similar telehealth locations. In December, the first Walmart ATLAS site opened in Asheboro, North Carolina. Four more ATLAS sites are slated to open in Boone, N.C.; Fond du Lac, Wisc.; Howell, Michigan; and Keokuk, Iowa, Carey reports.

"The Veterans Administration has faced harsh congressional criticism for wait times for veterans to get in to see VA healthcare providers," Carey reports. "The VA estimates that nearly 5.2 million veterans, or about a third, live in rural areas and have to travel long distances to access care at a VA hospital. That’s up from 5 million veterans living in rural areas in 2017, according to the U. S. Census Bureau."