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GSA Helps VA Get On the Road to Assist Disabled Veterans

GSA Helps VA Get On the Road to Assist Disabled Veterans IMAGE

Among the rocky, dry, landscape of central Washington’s Moses Lake, you won’t find any Veterans Facilities. But thanks to a pilot program from the Veterans Administration’s Office of Rural Health, you will find caring professionals willing to put in the miles to help rural Veterans unable to travel and get the help they need to stay independent. You will also find a team of GSA professionals ready to provide the tools necessary to make those Veterans' lives better.

The Office of Rural Health helps restore mobility for rural Veterans with limb loss and movement disorders by bringing artificial limb and bracing care to their communities. In 2019 they piloted the ‘Prosthetics on Wheels’ program to get Veterans who can’t make it to VA clinics the care they need.

Recently, two of the agency’s Prosthetics Specialists Danny Abrahamson and Eli Kaufman set out from Seattle, Washington, with their director. Their mission? Help Vietnam Veteran and double amputee ‘Raul’ get new prosthetics for his legs in the comfort of the home he shares with his wife Marta. 

While the trip was a success, fitting the prosthetics, tools, and supplies into the back of their vehicle got a bit dicey. All the gear takes up lots of room and staff need to make a myriad of adjustments to get the fit just right. 

To solve this problem, the VA had the idea to get special vans to serve as a mini ortho-clinic on wheels. They even got funding. But they needed help to put the plan into action! Enter GSA and a team of federal acquisition professionals that turned the VA’s wishes into a dream come true for many disabled Veterans. 

GSA’s part in the journey began shortly after the VA contacted the Federal Acquisition Services’ Customer Account staff to help connect them with the right people to do the market research, provide contract support, and help locate vendors to drive the pilot program to the next level. 

Thomas Ischkum from the Customer Account Stakeholder Engagement Division (CASE) initially reached out to GSA’s Northwest/Arctic Region, Customer Account Manager, Jessi Jagne in March and let her know the VA needed help. 

Jagne went to work helping the VA build out market research and identify possible vendors equipped to do the job. One of the first FAS employees involved in the project, Eric Simonait (CASE), collaborated with Jagne to develop the Request for Information and arranged it in an easy-to-read format for the VA. 

Russ Miller from GSA’s Travel, Transportation and Logistics chipped in too. He works with GSA’s industry partners to help provide unique vehicles to agencies. He walked Jagne through the technical part of the requirements for the self-contained clinic-on-wheels the VA envisioned… not an easy task.  

Another essential part of the team included GSA Contracting Officer Angela Romano. Since the vehicles would be very specialized, she worked with the vendor to make sure the van’s details were correct and ensure a complete contract package. 

All parties from GSA worked closely together with the VA team and the preferred vendor to fast track the award and get the VA all the features they needed as close to their budget as possible. 

The result? The VA awarded the $250K contract for two vans June 4. The added bonus? The selected contractor "TechOps Specialty Vehicles" are a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business. 

“The really cool thing about this program is the VA pilot started out of Seattle, but it will soon become a National Program, so GSA will help buy vans in other locations to support it,” said Jagne. 

Schematic drawing of the mobile lab vehicle layout

Story by: Lauren Isaksen, Communication Specialist