Earlier this month, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert McDonald sent a memorandum out to all VA employees, concerning the future of the VA and how he intends to implement reform within the troubled system.
Sec. McDonald’s message began by explaining how he has gone about his intelligence gathering. He explained that by hearing from Veterans and family members who receive the care that the department provides, he was better able to understand what and where efforts within the VA need to be ramped up. The VA head said that feedback from more than 2,000 VA employees from 20 facilities that provide healthcare service to more than 1.4 million Veterans has helped to shape the manner in which the VA system can retool its organizational functional practices to better serve Veterans.
The secretary asked for the cooperation of all VA employees to help with their shared mission to make the VA system easier to navigate for Veterans. McDonald said that he and all VA employees should purse a shared goal of ensuring that Veterans have a “clear understanding of VA and where to go for what they need within any of our facilities…”
In order to accomplish this goal and other reforms within the VA, Sec. McDonald laid out the following plan:
1) Establish a new VA-wide customer service organization to provide top-rated customer service to Veterans. McDonald plans to implement a new office for a Chief Customer Service Officer who will report directly to the VA Secretary. The duties of this new position will be to drive VA culture and practices to understand and respond to the expectations of Veteran customers.
2) Establish a single regional framework that will simplify internal coordination, enhance customer service and facilitate partnering. This collaborative effort within the VA will allow Veterans to more easily navigate the VA system without having to understand the bureaucratic structure of the department.
3) Establish a national network of Community Veteran Advisory Councils to coordinate better service delivery with state and local community partners.
4) Realign the VA’s internal business processes into a shared services model in which organizations across the department leverage the same support services, to improve efficiency, reduce costs and increase productivity.
McDonald also mentioned the activation of the Idea House website on Veterans Day. The website is intended to function as an electronic suggestion box where VA employees can submit their ideas and proposed solutions based on the challenges they see within their work environment.
This is a wonderful opportunity to greatly improve the VA system for the betterment of current Veterans, as well as for future generations of Veterans to come. Everyone in the Veteran community, as well as those who care about the Veteran community will be watching the VA secretary’s actions with apprehension and anticipation. As a people united, we all hope to see Veterans receive the best care available.
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Military Connection: VA Memo to Employees: By Debbie Gregory