A Department of Veterans Affairs program that allows qualified veterans to receive care at designated non-VA health care providers is surpassing expectations in northern Maine. The project, which began in 2008, is called Access Received Closer to Home, has five pilot sites around the country, including Cary Medical Center in Caribou, Maine. Without this program, veterans in the area would have to drive up to five hours one way to reach the nearest VA health care provider, said Kris Doody, Cary’s chief executive officer.

“It is absolutely a success,” said Doody. “To date, there have been 12,000 patient authorizations for specialized care our veterans can have a multitude of services right here.”

In addition to Maine’s program, there are pilot sites in Virginia, Kansas, Arizona and Montana.

“The ARCH program in Maine is a model for the nation,” said Sen. Susan Collins of Caribou. “Rural veterans in northern Maine have come to depend on the ARCH program to connect with health care services close to home and close to their families.”