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Care in the Community


Care in the Community refers to a VA benefits program that allows eligible veterans to receive medical care from non-VA healthcare providers. This option is available when VA facilities are unable to provide the required care or when accessing a VA facility is not feasible for the veteran. The care provided through this program is still authorized and covered by VA benefits.

Key Takeaways

  1. Care in the Community allows eligible Veterans to receive medical care from private providers outside of the VA-network, promoting access to quality care and reducing wait times.
  2. The program’s primary goal is to ensure that Veterans receive timely, high-quality care, regardless of whether the services are available within the VA health care system or from community providers.
  3. Eligibility for Care in the Community is determined by factors such as Veteran’s specific health care needs, distance to VA facilities, and availability of VA services.


The VA benefits term “Care in the Community” is important because it represents a crucial initiative aimed at providing eligible veterans with access to healthcare services from non-VA providers, ensuring timely and convenient medical care.

This program is designed to supplement the care provided by the Veterans Affairs facilities, making healthcare more accessible and reducing potential delays in treatment.

By allowing veterans to receive care from local providers within their communities, it not only enhances their healthcare options but also serves to alleviate the pressures on the VA system.

Consequently, “Care in the Community” plays a significant role in improving the overall quality and efficiency of veterans’ healthcare and showcases the commitment to their well-being.


Care in the Community serves as a critical component of the VA benefits system, aiming to ensure that veterans have timely access to high-quality healthcare services. This program’s primary purpose is to relieve pressure on VA hospitals and clinics by partnering with community healthcare providers, thus allowing veterans to receive necessary care more quickly and efficiently.

By collaborating with private facilities, the VA can expand its reach and cater to the diverse and evolving needs of the veteran population. Whether due to geographic barriers, long wait times, or the availability of specialized services, Care in the Community greatly enhances veterans’ ability to secure appropriate and prompt care from non-VA providers.

Not only does Care in the Community result in more streamlined and accessible healthcare for veterans, but it also allows the VA to focus on delivering high-quality core services while leveraging community resources for supplementary care. This comprehensive approach enables the VA to address a wide range of healthcare demands, including primary care, mental health services, specialized therapies, and routine procedures.

In turn, this ensures that the nation’s veterans receive the care they have earned through their dedication and service to the country. By facilitating stronger connections between the VA and community providers, Care in the Community can better serve the veteran population, offering support and fostering more resilient, healthy lives.

Examples of Care in the Community

Veterans Choice Program (VCP): The Veterans Choice Program is a real-world example of Care in the Community, which was established in response to the long wait times for eligible veterans to receive healthcare services. The VCP allows eligible veterans to access healthcare services from non-VA providers in their local communities, ensuring that they can obtain prompt and quality care without traveling long distances or experiencing extended wait times.

Project ARCH (Access Received Closer to Home): This pilot program, implemented between 2011 and 2013, aimed to improve access to healthcare for eligible veterans living in rural areas. Project ARCH allowed veterans to receive medical care from non-VA, community-based providers when the necessary care was not available at their nearest VA facility, or when travel to a VA facility would be challenging due to distance or other factors.

Community Care Network (CCN): CCN is another real-world example of Care in the Community under VA benefits. The CCN is a system of contracted private-sector healthcare providers working together to serve veterans in their local communities. This network enables the VA to coordinate care more effectively and efficiently, ensuring that veterans can access the care they need from the most appropriate provider, whether that is a VA facility or a community-based provider.

FAQ: Care in the Community

What is Care in the Community?

Care in the Community is a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) program that allows eligible Veterans to receive medical care from providers outside of the VA healthcare system. This program aims to ensure Veterans have access to high-quality care and services that are closer to home or more convenient for their specific needs.

How do I know if I am eligible for Care in the Community?

Eligibility for Care in the Community is determined by the VA based on factors such as your enrollment status in the VA health care system, your specific health care needs, and the availability of services at VA facilities. If the VA determines that it is unable to provide you with the necessary care within its facilities, they may authorize care from a community provider.

Do I need a referral to receive care in the community?

Yes, you will need a referral from your VA healthcare provider before you can receive care from a community provider. Your VA provider will determine if care in the community is appropriate for your specific needs and will work with you to find a suitable community provider.

Will the VA cover the cost of my care in the community?

If you are eligible for Care in the Community and have received a referral from your VA healthcare provider, the VA will generally cover the cost of your care. However, there may be certain copayments, deductibles, or other costs for which you are responsible. It’s essential to ensure the community provider you choose is authorized by the VA to minimize any out-of-pocket expenses.

What types of services are available through Care in the Community?

A wide range of medical services can be provided through Care in the Community, including primary care, specialty care, mental health care, urgent care, and more. However, the specific services available to you will depend on your individual healthcare needs and the availability of those services in your area.

Related VA Benefit Terms

  • Community Care Providers
  • Veterans Health Administration (VHA)
  • VA Community Care Network (CCN)
  • Eligibility Criteria for Community Care
  • Referral and Authorization Process

Sources for More Information