Press Release

Rep. Henry Cuellar announces expansion of medical services for Veterans in Starr County

Starr County veterans can now receive services here at home

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Rio Grande City, May 6, 2015 | Kirsten Hartman, Press Secretary ((202) 226-8096) | comments

Surrounded by Starr County Veterans, Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX28) on Tuesday announced the expansion of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Choice Program for eligible veterans who need medical assistance.

Congressman Cuellar explained that under the expansion of these services, veterans who live more than 40 miles from the nearest VA facility may use a closer medical facility as long as they receive preauthorization from TriWest, the provider of services for the VA.


“It isn’t fair for many of these veterans to travel many miles just to get medical attention,” said Congressman Cuellar. “From now on, if a veteran lives farther than 40 miles from a VA clinic, all they have to do is get preauthorization from TriWest to visit another facility and receive the care they deserve. This means that veterans in Starr County can now get the services they need, and deserve, here at home.”


For example, if a veteran lives in Rio Grande City, he or she has to travel to the VA clinic in McAllen to receive medical attention. Under these new services, if the veteran lives more than 40 miles away from this facility, all he or she has to do is call TriWest to get preauthorization and visit a nearer hospital or clinic that is part of their network.


The 40-mile calculation is based on the number of miles the veteran has to physically drive to get to the nearest VA Clinic. The 40-mile straight-line distance is no longer used to calculate the length of travel.


For more information on the First Choice Program or if a veteran does not remember receiving a card or has questions of the services, they can call 1-866-606-8198. More information is also available by visiting


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