By Lorraine Plass
AMVETS is one of the leading veterans’ services organizations in California, representing more than 10,000 veterans. We assist the veterans community with securing benefits, conducting job searches, and providing outreach services to homeless vets.
AMVETS Department of California works to help our veterans through AMVETS career centers, providing furniture and household items to formerly homeless veterans under our Welcome Home Program, and connecting them with Veterans Administration services and other benefits.
We work with veterans spread out across the state, in both urban and rural communities. Because more and more services are being made available online, we find that rural veterans are falling into the digital divide. They are unable to easily connect to and find the critical services they need, including health care, job training, housing support and other resources.
It’s a fact that California’s rural communities simply don’t have the wireless infrastructure needed to participate in today’s online world. Rural communities deal with slow and unreliable connections that are inadequate for using today’s services, putting them at a disadvantage.
This lack of access is one of the reasons why AMVETS Department of California is supporting the merger of T-Mobile with Sprint. In a state as large as ours, online services offer fast and efficient delivery of programs, reducing the need to travel long distances to apply for and receive services in person — a trip that can be prohibitive for disabled or chronically ill veterans.
Delivering innovative services, such as telemedicine, depends on both provider and patient having access to high-speed broadband. The merger and T-Mobile’s commitment to deploy a 5G network will enable veterans in rural areas of California to finally be able to connect with services that can improve their lives.
Telemedicine services in particular hold the promise of significantly improving the lives of veterans in rural communities. Veterans can make appointments and receive care from their physicians in virtual visits over wireless connections. It is easy to understand how this would benefit veterans living in remote areas, but it will only be possible when more of our citizens have access to high-speed broadband service.
T-Mobile has been a dependable partner for our nation’s Veterans. They currently partner with the VA, providing 70,000 free phone lines to veterans, and have one of the most generous military discounts in the industry for current service members, veterans, and their families. They have also made an admirable commitment to hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2023, showing that they also appreciate the challenges some veterans face when transitioning to civilian employment.
When we look at the cumulative actions of T-Mobile, we see a company that is committed to our nation’s military — both active-duty service members, veterans, and their families. We recognize a company that is committed to California and will work to address the access problems under-served rural communities face by upgrading existing networks and expanding 5G. For these reasons, we are proud to support the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint and we look forward to what it can bring to veterans across the state of California.
Lorraine Plass is the the 3rd Vice Commander of Legislation & State Legislative Chair of AMVETS.
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