In message to employees, Sec. McDonald outlines the way ahead to improve VA


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In the last few months as your Secretary, I have met and heard from Veterans and family members about how we can better serve Veterans.  I’ve also traveled to VA facilities across the country and have had the extraordinary opportunity to meet with you, the men and women who work on the front lines and behind the scenes to care for and serve Veterans every day.  These opportunities have informed my thinking as we work to plan for the future of the Department.

Already, more than 2,000 VA employees at 20 facilities serving 1.4 million Veterans have shared their perspectives on how we can improve this Department, and have provided insightful and thoughtful feedback about how VA should be organized to better serve Veterans. It is clear that our shared mission is important to you and your colleagues.  It’s also clear that you share my goal of making VA easier to navigate for Veterans. I am grateful for your contributions, and your support in this endeavor.

As we have been considering changes to VA, we have also met with Veterans, Veterans service organizations, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders.  We have used your feedback, and the common themes we heard in all comments, to begin shaping the way forward for VA.  Soon, we will begin implementing changes to VA, to better structure our organization to meet Veteran needs.  Our new alignments may change some of our processes, but our employees remain valued members of the team.

Sec. Robert McDonald addresses Veterans and VA employees at the Phoenix VAMC #ICARE

Sec. McDonald talked to Veterans and VA employees  in more than 40 VA facilities across the country to determine the way ahead to better serve Veterans.

Our shared goals are to ensure that Veterans have a clear understanding of VA and where to go for what they need within any of our facilities; that employees are empowered with the authority, knowledge and tools they need to solve problems and take action; and that the products and services that we deliver to Veterans are integrated within the organization.  The changes we plan to make are as follows:

  • Establish a new VA-wide customer service organization to ensure we provide top-level customer service to Veterans.  A Chief Customer Service Officer who reports to the Secretary will lead this effort.  The mission of the new office will be to drive VA culture and practices to understand and respond to the expectations of our Veteran customers.
  • Establishing a single regional framework that will simplify internal coordination, facilitate partnering and enhance customer service. This will allow Veterans to more easily navigate VA without having to understand our inner structure.
  • Working with our partners to establish a national network of Community Veteran Advisory Councils to coordinate better service delivery with local, state and community partners. Expanded public-private partnerships will help us coordinate Veteran-related issues with local, state and community partners, as well as VA employees.
  •  Identifying opportunities for VA to realign its internal business processes into a shared services model in which organizations across VA leverage the same support services, to improve efficiency, reduce costs and increase productivity across VA.  Right now, we’re looking at options used in the private sector to enhance our rapid delivery of services, and also at our own business processes that are suited for shared services.

Please keep in mind that this is a long-term process and we are just beginning to plan how this will all unfold.  As we move forward with these changes, your feedback, ideas and perspective will be invaluable. To gather your suggestions, we have launched an intranet web tool, the My VA Idea House, where employees from across VA can submit ideas online to improve services, streamline processes and solve issues for Veterans and their families. Employees can also vote on submissions from your colleagues across VA. Sponsors will select ideas and create topic-related groups to encourage collaboration and help make the ideas a reality. The Idea House website will officially open for submissions tomorrow, Veterans Day, Nov. 11. I encourage you to go to vaideahouse.ideascale.com to submit your ideas and proposed solutions to the challenges you are seeing.

Idea

I know there are a lot of questions about this effort, and I know that there will be concerns.  We don’t have all the answers right now, and that’s why we are reaching to you for your thoughts.  This will be a fair and deliberate process, and we need your help to make sure our decisions are the right ones for Veterans.

As we collect input and work together to design an employee-led, Veteran-centric VA, we have a great opportunity to make significant progress toward our goals in the near term. Thank you for the work you are doing each day to make VA a stronger organization for America’s Veterans.

Author

Bob McDonald

Comments

  1. JAMES REID    

    MY VA/DAV HAS LIED TO ME FOR 30 PLUS YEARS ABOUT MY RECORDS BEING DESTROYED IN THE FIRE. YET 1990/1991 AT A HEARING IN DC THEY HAD ALL RECORD OF MY SINUS BEING RUPTURED A SCOTT AFB,IL IN 1956. REPAIRED IN 1997. TOLD ME TO REAPPLY AND IT WOULD BE APPROVED. I’VE YET TO RECEIVE ANY COMPENSATION. I STILL SUFFER TODAY. NOW I HAVE SOMETHING NEW. ACQUIRED HEMOPHILLIA. HOW DID I ACQUIRE THIS AT AGE 77. I FELL ONLY THE COMMANDER AND CHEIF CAN CORRECT THIS MATTER. PLEASE ADVISE ON THIS MATTER.

    1. Bill Sauer    

      I am not an employee of the VA, but I am a proud Veteran. After seeing and reading about what has happened throughout the Veterans Administration and what the veterans had to withstand I think is pathetic.
      After watching the news last night of Secretary MacDonald specifying certain conditions and issues concerning our veterans I applaud him to try and conquer this monumental process.

      My opinion as a vet why don’t you hire the veterans who are out of work and give them the jobs you just fired. Wouldn’t you think that the veterans needing the support would know exactly what they want and need. They know the language of the vets who tired of being thrown aside and their paperwork being tossed around who can really help them. I would really like to see that happen. Give the vets the responseability to care for their own.

      Thank you for allowing me to speak.

      Bill Sauer

      1. Shannon Brantley    

        I totally agree. I know every Veteran has a story. But as a female Vet I am concerned about my Sisters in arms. And the care that we need. I also think that the Customer Service person is much needed. There are so many things that need to change with the VA. Also there are many things that are better since the dialog about all the problems has come to light.

    2. James P. Kahn    

      My name is (CPT) James Kahn (US Army Ret) I am a disabled Veteran that has dealt with and is still dealing with multiple paperwork mistakes since my medical retirement after 19+ years of service in 2011. The Veteran that is alluding to his issues and concerns has extremely valid points and unfortunately his is not an isolated story.
      The VA has dropped, misplaced, flattened, reassigned, and or simply forgotten about the ball on many occasions.
      I applaud the new Secretary for knowing all of the right things to say but am concerned and convinced that there are simply too many middle management leaders that are either poorly qualified or poorly motivated to truly apply themselves and their assets to the challenge of turning the VA into a top notch health care team.
      Customer Service is at the forefront of every other health care organization due to the simple fact that consumers have a choice of where their consumer dollars go. It is unfortunate that the VA is not in competition with these providers as it is the Veterans that continue to suffer the lack of motivation provided for in such markets.
      Until recently I worked for the VA as a nurse and was terminated for not fitting in with the culture of not caring for the patients that came to see me for help. For going above and beyond to assist people with their challenges I was marked as a non-conformer in a herd that is going no where quickly and who’s objective is not the provision of the highest standards of care but is rather, “keeping my government job,” the response that I have personally received multiple times when I have asked my fellow nursing professionals why they tolerate and participate in this culture of non-caring.
      To the people that I had the privilege if helping during my short time with the VA, thank you for the honor of your trust, I hope I met your needs. Take care and may God bless.

      1. Danny    

        Capt Kahn, haiku worked at the Veterans Administration Medical Center for a few years. I also was a non conformist. Realizing my caring for the veterans we’re going to get me in trouble, I transferred to another division of government employment. We were and will continue to be the exception to the generally accepted rule, and that is a shame! It is however my feeling that under Secretary McDonalds “reign”, if he is allowed to stay in office long enough,either the attitude of the employees from the front desk up to executive management will change or the people filling those positions will change! I have received an email from Mr McDonald. It was a short email but I could tell it came from his heart! He is our brother in arms! He not only said he cares,but I truly get the feeling he does care! Let’s all give him a chance to prove that he does. These people that just want to pay check had better look out, we have a brother in the highest office of the VETERANS Administration!

        1. James Kahn    

          Danny,
          If you would not mind forwarding me Secretary McDonald’s email address it would be greatly appreciated.
          It is my fervent desire to be part of the solution that Mr. McDonald is putting forth but I cannot do that if his opposition is able to terminate mine and others employment based on the simple fact that we are buying into the, “hard right,” rather than falling in rank and file with those that have for so long taken the, “easy wrong.”
          Mine email is: JPEKAHN@hotmail.com
          Take care and may God bless,
          James

        2. Danny    

          Captain Khan, Secretary McDonald has made his email available to the public on several occasions. I personally would not feel right passing it on in a public forum. I will be in touch with you soon, but feel I must get appropriate permission as I would before passing on even my best friend’s email address. Please understand I mean you no disrespect, quite the contrary, I say this in total respect to Secretary McDonald. I respectfully ask that you understand it’s not like he and I are best friends.

        3. Danny    

          This posting was a mistake! In trying to defend Secretary McDonald, I made it known that he does answer emails, & am now regretting it. I stand by my statement that he is our brother in arms, and that he truly cares about veterans, and remain an advocate & ally for him.

  2. Paul Hardy    

    Why would you not want to tap into the collective smarts of 1.4 million vets and restrict the VA Idea House only to employees?

    – You could set up regional committees consisting of mostly volunteers who could read, vet, sort, etc. the ideas and then pass on the top and/or worthy ones to the appropriate people in the VA Idea House…

    1. ARNOLD CABRAL    

      PLEASE CHANGE THE LAW ABOUT WHEN A MEDICAL or MENTAL HEALTH Mistakes are done it should be no hidden secrets for HEALTH and MENTAL HEALTH PATIENTS

  3. Chris Kornkven    

    I applaud your efforts to make change in the VA, Secretary McDonald, particularly the Chief Customer Service Officer, but have to wonder what ever happened to the Patient Advocates at each VAMC.

    I recall a few years ago being able to go to a Patient Advocate at the Madison VAMC and getting problems resolved quickly. Now when going to the Patient Advocate at the Grand Junction, CO VAMC, I get excuses for a complaint of violating my privacy and improper billing of my private health insurance for surgery related to a service connected condition.

    Months later, I am still trying to determine if my insurance has been reimbursed almost $7,000.00 for this surgery.

    Not only do I get excuses from the Patient Advocate, I find out the head of the Patient Advocates at Grand Junction also functions as the Public Affairs officer for the VA. How can a Patient Advocate be effective if they are also functioning to provide the best media coverage for the VA?

    As I said, I applaud your efforts. I hope to see those changes in local VA’s.

    1. Mr. BillyPhillips    

      I’m glad to be a member of the various mildstones and look too see other veterans have that same privilege. thank you very much

  4. Hollis Tessmer    

    November 9, 2014

    To U.S. Secretary for Veterans Affairs
    Honorable Robert McDonald

    My name is Hollis A. Tessmer II, Master Sergeant, United States Air Force Retired and I was one of the veterans who received delayed care by the Phoenix VA system that you spoke about in your 60-Minutes interview on November 9, 2014. I was asking to be evaluated for my shoulder pain and it took over a year to receive an appointment with an outsourced physician. I received multiple letters, about every three months telling me of another delay. I enjoyed hearing your ideas to improve the VA system from multiple internet websites to one. What a concept to streamline the system for our veterans.
    I am a military trained Radiology Technologist with a diverse background while active duty and an education in Civilian for Profit Healthcare since my retirement in 2004. I am the Director of imaging Services for Rockdale Medical Center in Conyers, Georgia. Rockdale Medical Center is a 138-Bed Acute Care Facility located approximately 25-miles East of Atlanta just off I-20. Imaging Service provides Computer Tomography (CT), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Ultrasound (US), Nuclear Medicine (NM), Interventional Radiology (IR), Mammography (MM) and Radiology (X-Ray). Our 92-member staff provides over 100,000 images annually for the Emergency Department, In-Patient and Out-Patient Services. Each customer needs to receive patience, courtesy, kindness, and respect – or as I call it the Ritz Carleton effect. Treat everyone like they are staying at a Disney Park Hotel where everything is possible.
    I am also trying to change the culture in Imaging just like you are doing with MyVA. Changing the culture takes time and sometimes requires the elimination of staff with longevity. I believe you are on the right track to and would like to offer my assistance in changing the present behemoth VA system into your vision of MyVA system that will give Veterans a healthcare system that will rival any other system in America. They / we deserve it.

    Respectfully
    Hollis A. Tessmer II, MA, CRA, RT (R)
    Director of Imaging

  5. maurice scott    

    Any man at his level that would give his cellphone number, actually answer it, any man that has a email at his level and actually answer emails addressing folks by name, he is truly the real deal. So save the government some effort, if you are a employee who has hurt veterans with corrupt behavior, quit, retire, or resign because this man is gonna get you out.

    1. SR Shipman    

      Hi. I missed where the Secretary gave his cell number and/or email address. Will you please share that contact information with me?

      Thanks in advance

    2. Mike Hayward    

      Maurice, the Veterans for Veterans of Archuleta County serving, supporting and helping Veterans in need in SW Colorado have emailed Secretary McDonald on several occasions soliciting his help/involvement in key issues and have never received a response from him! In addition Senator Bennet from Colorado has sent him several emails and even his office has not received a response. One of the issues was concerning a death of a Veteran at a VA facility. I am glad you are having success communicating with him, but rest assured it is not the case for everyone.

    3. James P. Kahn    

      I also have missed the handing out of this contact information. Up until today I have been employed as a Registered Nurse with the VA and have tried unsuccessfully to locate an internal email address for the Secretary and have been unsuccessful in doing so.
      If you have said contact information please pass it on.
      Take care and may God bless,

  6. Charles Farr    

    1. The VA must be understandable of vets who don’t have advanced education. Often times they don’t understand what the VA is asking. Asking who handles the money in your home is an unfair question to determine competency.
    2. The Va should offer claims packages so that all forms that are needed are supplied.
    3. Primary care doctors should be given the power to send patients to outside sources. Waiting for months for approvals is often to the determent of the Vet.
    4. The VA must give monies that allow a VET to live in a comfortable setting.Vets are loosing everything trying to pay for services such as care-giving.
    5 Care givers should be paid a reasonable amount equal to area rates.
    6 The VA needs to except states POA.
    7 The VA should allow the vets served the power to grade everyone they encounter with in the VA

    1. Jane Rivers    

      The VA should be consitant across the nation. I have gone to 3 different states to the VA & all of them are different. Like here in N. CA if you need travel to a different city you have to find a way to that clinic or find a way to the closest clinic to you & then catch the shuttle. I’m leagally blind & have problems finding someone to take me to my clinic appts in Vallejo, Martinez, & Travis AF Base clinic. The person I was paying to take me can’t do it anymore; the aide I have don’t work enough hours to take me that far. So, when it comes to getting to my clinic appts I’m going on a hope & a prayer. In GA I didn’t have that problem bc my aide had enough hrs in a day to take me & bring me home. I do have to say the mail order RX system is better here in CA than GA or LA. Also, when you have an appt here in N. CA you are in and out of there fairly quickly. All I’m asking is you should be able to know that everything at 1 VA will be the same at all VA’s across the nation.

      Thanks

  7. Andrew Register    

    Looks like some positive changes. I am interested to see what lies ahead.

    1. Danny    

      there are positive changes being made! Heads are starting to roll! A friend of mine says people at the VA are actually becoming nervous! when I go to my local VA, people greet me with a smile, and I actually see a better attitude among the front line workers!the one thing I have to say about all this is GOOD JOB SECY MCDONALD & THANK YOU! !!

  8. Marc Stone    

    Perhaps it might be possible to spend a little more time around the country with the vets, VA facilities, staff, etc.; to make real improvement (as its needed), but, then again, this line of action typically occurs when there’s media involved. Your intentions may be good, but: just reducing the bureaucratic process would help tremendously. Reality is: that is not going to happen because Congress is involved!

  9. Evan Peck    

    I recently signed up for VA Medical in Florida and right away saw a doctor for my PTSD. I was told I will get other mental health assistance for my service related disability at the Viera Florida Clinic. Soon I was getting letters from the VA medical Center in Minneapolis saying welcome aboard, but they were having a difficult time contacting me. I called them saying I live in Florida and haven’t been seen in Minnesota in 28 years.
    I told them I was waiting for a Primary Care Physician and have been waiting over a month. Those nice people up there said they feared with the mix up that I most likely lost my place in line in Viera, and I had better call them to tell them what happened.
    I called the Viera Clinic telling the customer service lady of the mix up as I just saw a doctor there; her tone was very different and I knew there was trouble. She began talking over me like I was speaking out of turn saying they don’t have anyone in Viera by that name. I told her I have his business card in my hand and I did see him. She got really snotty with me saying I don’t know what I am talking about; each time she asked me a question, she would not let me answer it and talked over me. I told her I was concerned I lost my place in line, waiting for a primary care physician, knowing I have spinal injuries and PTSD. She finally said to me, Why are you calling me today as you are wasting my time as you don’t know what you are talking about. I soon realized that the stories I had heard inside from the vets talking about their abusive treatment in the Viera Clinic, compared to other centers were most likely true. I had always thought the local clinic was a nice place but I was shocked from her call. I didn’t know where to turn so I wrote my congressman telling his office of the bitter treatment at Viera and that I most likely lost my place in line.

  10. Kenneth Mack    

    I Would Like an MRI for my knees both of them that I have been requestion since the1980’s……

    1. Dr David Johnson    

      You have to keep after them to get such tests done.. Ive been after some tests since 1987 and they are Just now getting to them.. File claim appeal what ever you have to do, and you may even get a Doctor that will listen and order tests..Good Luck

  11. Don Divers    

    I read the IG report from 2008 and as a business owner and a former IT auditor, I can’t help but ask why a control wasn’t created after the initial finding of falsified appointment scheduling. I’m sure the VistA software has the ability to track field changes and present an audit trail of each rescheduling event to cover up the long wait times. This would provide an ongoing measurement of that aspect of customer service. If the software does not have that capability, that should have also been part of the 2008 finding and susequent versions of the CPRS should have been modified to provide what is now apparently a very necessary oversight.

  12. Jerry Alexander    

    Benefits Delivery at Discharge (BDD)
    BDD allows a Servicemember to submit a claim for disability compensation 60 to 180 days prior to separation, retirement, or release from active duty or demobilization. BDD can help you receive VA disability benefits sooner, with a goal of within 60 days after release or discharge.

    This doesn’t happen. I am being told 5 months for just preparation for decision phase. 01/07/2015 to 05/19/2015 is estimated claim completion date. I file 6 months out from retirement, had all my medical records, military and civilian. So still takes 9 to 14 months or longer to finish a claim. What is bad is a marine is denied befits for PTSD after 2 years of wating, he than commits suicide. As that only way Veterans can take care of their familys.

    Wondering if management also gets bonus for not approving compensation, since bonus where given to upper management for lying about wait times for medical appointment. Each time I call to check on my claim I am given so many different reasons from 22 days to 5 months for preparation for decision phase. At this pace i have no choice but conceal any doctor appointments I have as can’t afford to pay bills and co-pays from saving.

    There nothing in life as much fun as being in 10 plus pain, as I can’t affords the co-pay. SI joint dysfunction, bulge disk at L5- S1, degenerative disc disease in lumbar spine, and tarlov cysts at S3 makes for lots of pain every day. Hurts to walk, set, move and even simple movements cause pain. So I get to live with the pain and getting a job will not easy, as the few jobs I could have, couldn’t get them as I would be a liable to them as an employee.
    I feel like all the VA is doing is giving lip service for change, as the ones at the VA I talk to I can tell who is a Veteran as they seam to care, and non Veteran act like I am wasting there time and don’t seam to care, as they are getting pay to tell stories about why claims take so long.

    The real question is who will be faster with my claims Veteran Affairs or Social Security benefits?

    1. ALNavyVet    

      I have been a disabled vet for 16 years. In 2012 my daughter was removed from compensation claim due to turning 18. I submitted all paperwork 3 days later and had a 3 month completion date. I have yet seen my account corrected. I called 2 weeks ago and was told they did not see anything on file. I immediately screen captured the page on eBenefits while on phone with them( as a precaution to possible deletion.) I then completed another set of paperwork and submitted. Completion date by March 2015. We will see!! Daughter has been on file since I was discharged. I submitted school enrollment evidence, How hard is it to add a dependent back as active?? Her name is still in the master record!! Good luck with your claim!!

  13. Tony Dawson    

    I’m a VA employee and you’re right, the culture must be changed. One way to get there would be to publish the names of the 40 people you just fired. Or at least mention the firings in your post. Why are people sent on hushed temporary duty assignments, never to be seen again, instead of publicly fired? Why did I have to read about the latest firings on CNN? Who are they? Why were they fired? Since you didn’t mention the firings or the names of those you fired, you perpetuate the secretive culture that you’re trying to fix.

    1. James P. Kahn    

      Tony,
      I can tell you that I was fired for doing too much for Veterans, the fact that I actually care enough about my brothers and sisters from arms means that I am rocking the boat too much. By doing someone else’s job that should have long since been done I have regularly demonstrated how they were not doing their jobs and ignoring the actual needs of the Veterans that have sought me out for help because I have developed a reputation for helping people.
      As a reward for my efforts to help our Veterans, I as a disabled, Schedule A Targeted Veteran, was terminated today for spending too much time helping too many people……
      End result, a whole lot of people get to keep their government jobs performing at an industry unsatisfactory level that will not be questioned because the cliche’ herd mentality continues to be the rule of the day.
      The VA will continue to plod along until the simple principles of effective management are instilled in the frontline leadership.
      As it stands too many people are mid-level leaders not because of potential or demonstrated leadership but because of who they are friends with or because of how long they have been standing around simply waiting for their turn to have their names on desk nameplates.
      In the real (non-VA) world of healthcare provision customers come first because they can go somewhere else to spend their money. The VA has such a captive audience that the motivational drives that have shaped Non-VA health care don’t exist internal to the VA.
      It is sad really.
      Take care and may God bless,
      CPT Kahn is out.

  14. Betty Sonke (Lyons)    

    i am a disabled Veteran who has been trying to be seen by the Neurologist at the Hampton VA Virginia for a year now so due to that fact the Roanoke Virginia Disability board took a look at my medical file and all they see is that I have not been to the Neurologist and they say”hey she is better let’s take her disability away” now they forgot to read the part where me and my Primary Care Dr. have been trying to get me in to see the Neurologist and all my comments in my record every week with my counselor. Yes I am in therapy and have been for over a year, now due to this I have had a major set back with stress depression and anxiety, also if they take it I will become homeless again. What took me 15 months to get will take them 2 months to take and me 20 months to fight for it back, Now no one should have to go through this…… something has to be done with this system.

  15. John J. Brack    

    Dear Secretary McDonald,

    Today being Veterans Day I felt a need to send you this note. I have recently retired as a senior HR professional with 33 plus years of experience. I live in Rye, New Hampshire. I would like to offer my HR experience, anywhere in New England, as a way of giving service to my country. I know there is lots of work to do in fixing the Veterans Affairs department. I am not a veteran, but my dad was a Lt. Commander in the Navy in the 1940s.
    Please let me now if there’s anything I can do to help.

    Sincerely,

    John J. Brack

    1. Donald H. Hodges    

      Secretary McDonald From 2010 to 2014 the VA has owes me over $10,000.00. I call the 1-800 for updates , but I’m only told it in the Atlanta Ga Office the VA can’t gave a time . This is over 6 Months Old. My File was closed in 2012 it was a long process getting it open. I email the White House, and the Secretary of Benefits look into my Case. It was reopen so you can see I would like for this to end, and by getting the Back pay, this will end for me . If you would, will you look at this for me? Thank You for your time.

      Donald H. Hodges
      Donald.hodges@ang.af.mil

  16. James Nierstedt    

    Dismantle the VA and start fresh. I served in the United States Air Force for 20 years and I am disgusted with most of new age military veterans. They think it is their right to be awarded a VA disability when leaving the service. I know plenty of veterans that receive compensation for hip replacement, broken bones, gunshot wounds, heart medicine and the list goes one. None of these injuries suffered on duty or by any means related to the military.
    I thought VA compensations were awarded for an injuries suffered while serving, not while riding motorcycles off duty, being in the wrong bar at the wrong time and getting shot by gang members or playing volleyball on the beach. Where have the ethics gone within the military. The ethics have been diluted stating at the top. Believe me there are plenty of Col’s and Generals first in line to get VA disabilities for paper cuts suffered on duty. With this mindset throughout the military I see the VA growing bigger than any government service to date.
    Please don’t get me wrong. Anyone that has served and suffered injuries on duty should have the best medical care the United States can offer. If the ones not deserving would have ethics the VA would not be overwhelmed and could properly serve vets

    1. Braun Sugar    

      The law states if injury, od death occurs while on active duty; unless fraud, or criminal activity. A veteran can be compensated for those injuries.

  17. Peggy Davis    

    To U.S. Secretary for Veterans Affairs
    Honorable Robert McDonald

    I am not a veteran but I do applaud your efforts to reform the administration of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. I was particularly impressed with your goal to develop a “one-stop-shop” for veterans and so I am offering one idea for you to consider.

    Although I know the initial focus will be on healthcare for veterans, I hope you will consider this idea for the near future.

    In the State of Washington, I am the program specialist for property tax relief programs. Almost daily, certainly weekly, we receive calls from veterans asking about property tax relief in our state. They want to know what kinds of programs we have here in Washington and how our programs compare to programs in other states. On the new website, I would love to see a link to an information webpage for property tax relief in all 50 states.

    As you know, property tax relief varies from state to state and, often, veterans are not aware of that. Including an informational section on the main website, would make it possible for veterans to “shop”. Links to state websites would allow them to access publications explaining benefits in each state as well as contact information.

    Please consider this idea for the future and, on behalf of all veterans, thank you so much for your effort and determination!

    Respectfully,
    Peggy Davis

    1. Don Divers    

      Hear hear Peggy!,

      After reading Mr. McDonald’s statements I just volunteered with the Jame’s Haley medical center in Tampa. I had volunteered about 18 months ago in Wilkes Barre, PA, but apparently they did not need help last year or lost my app :P. I’m sure with the new focus on customer support and client services, providing your contact information to the local VA office to offer help vets in Washington state clear the hurdles for programs like the one that you administer would be greatly appreciated and certainly utilitzed!
      I’m still very greatful as the VA helped me complete my undergraduate degree as well as finance my first home.

      Don Divers

  18. Lisa Bingley    

    My name is Lisa Bingley and I am a retired Chief Petty Officer who served in the United States Navy for over 23 years with an extensive background in technology. I lost my job due to budget cuts and I went to the Baltimore Veterans Administration for assistance with finding a job and I was enrolled in VOC Rehab and was given a temporary job for six months. After six months, the job was ended and I was told that there was nothing they could do. I was basically let go and left to fend for myself .The reason for that is that people that work at the VA are not judged by the success or failure of the Veterans.They do not have a real reason to do anything to help or respect the people they serve. The people that I know that go the Veterans Adminstration in Baltimore go there due to not having any other place to go and the people that worked there are aware of it so that enables them to treat us with disrespect and to dismiss us without any care or concern. The only way to resolve this is to establish a hotline where Veterans can call and report any discrepancies or bad experiences that they recieved at the VA and then VA employees will have a reason to do better

  19. Amy    

    As the spouse of a veteran, I am hopeful that the VA system will be dramatically overhauled to improve services. The lengthy wait times and lack of resources in rural areas is a serious barrier and only exacerbates underlying medical conditions for our vets. Additionally the post-deployment support for vets (and their families) leaves much to be desired. Nearly 10 years after my husband’s deployment, we are only now beginning to understand the long-term effects of his time in Iraq. War changes people physically AND mentally, and in our experience the Army and/or VA did nothing to prepare our family for those changes. Thank you and best of luck to you, Mr. McDonald. You have a very big job ahead of you.

  20. Juan Marin    

    I am a Persian Gulf War Veteran who has appealed a VA initial denial to an increase in compensation. All of the Persian Gulf War Veterans have come back all messed up. Some have died and so many thousands of others have so many different diseases and ailments, that is why they labeled it Gulf War Syndrome. In my opinion the VA is so full of bureaucracy and red tape that no one will be able to come in and fix the backlog of claims and appeals. The VA turns more vets down for compensation than anything else. Theses Vets just like the ones serving in Iraq and Afghanistan have given and risked their life for this Country and when they return home the VA turns their back on them and refuses to give them what they deserve. The amount of turn around time for claims and appeals is ridiculous and absurd. there is a lot of corruption in the VA and it is systematic. I think that the VA has a long way to go before they treat and give the valiant men and women the respect and service that they deserve.

  21. Bryan Wilhelm    

    The Choice Card appears to be only for veterans to receive services near home (fixed location). What about retired vets that own RV’s, follow the sun, move about the country?
    Are we excluded?
    Last year while traveling I became ill. I called several VA facilities only to become aware that the VA is not prepared to advise veterans of facilities for care based on the veterans location. Most VA personnel that answered the phone, did not know what or where to turn for help.
    Please publish on your web site a facility finder that we can find VA care while traveling wherever VA care is available.

    1. Bryan Wilhelm    

      …also, this suggestion would make a great mobile phone app.
      Please consider that also.

    2. Mike Hayward    

      Bryan, there is a site http://www.va.gov/directory/guide/home.asp?isflash=1

      On the topic of Veterans Choice Programs, we (Veterans for Veterans) are very disappointed in the botched roll out thus far. Our rural Veterans that live over 40 miles from a facility have received their cards, however, when they call the number and ask what doctors are available, the only name they are given is of a local councilor. Our local hospital and associated clinic who has a fee-based and PC3 contract with the VA is not in the system as a choice. We live in a very rural area and our Veterans need to have these services available. When I talked to TriWest who is the Veterans Choice 3rd party administrator as well as the PC3 administrator they blame the VA for such short notice on rolling out the program.

      It is troubling to us that the VA selected the two PC3 administrators to administer the Veterans Choice program as that program at least for us (VISN 18) and the rest of Colorado (VISN 19) PC3 was setup to fail. What non-VA provider would accept a contract to get paid 75% or 80% of Medicare rates?

      There were a lot of better/easier ways to implement a program like this. One obvious one from an outsider view, would have been to have made it part of the Medicare system. Since the established rates are supposedly the same as Medicare, there would be minor if any changes to the rate tables. Everything else is in place, including a network of providers, payment system, etc.. There are many more ways it could have been implemented without paying an outside contractor billions of dollars, to have it fail. That is of course, unless the objective of the VA was to make it fail, thus not be renewed/extended/funded in the future.

  22. Karen    

    I am in the private sector and an expert in process. I can help. Please have someone from va contact me.

  23. Ken    

    Problem is they pay a boatload of money to the top and middle managers who don’t have a clue about what they’re doing and are out the door 4:45pm every day. Those bad management folks just pass the all the real work off to much lower-paid underlings who feel resentful this happening all the time. The top management level in NYC is just terrible, and they are way overpaid. They’ve been getting guaranteed bonuses for years, and expect this extra money like it’s automatically theirs somehow. They do nothing extra to earn it. Put these useless management people to work, make them earn their living by doing something knowledge-focused and measurable, and if they cannot, fire them, and you will see how much better things will get at the VA. This joke of an organization has gone on too long and at way too many people’s expense.

  24. ARNOLD CABRAL    

    I WOULD WORRY MORE ABOUT WHY IF A VETERAN HEALTH CENTERS DON’T GET MORE HELP MY MEDICAL DOCTOR SEES MORE THAN 1000 PATIENTS A MONTH

  25. Ken    

    Problem is they pay a boatload of money to the top and middle managers who don’t have a clue about what they’re doing and are out the door 4:45pm every day. Those bad management folks just pass the all the real work off to much lower-paid underlings who feel resentful this is happening all the time. The top management level in NYC is just terrible, and they are way overpaid. They’ve been getting guaranteed bonuses for years, and expect this extra money like it’s automatically theirs somehow. They do nothing extra to earn it. Put these useless management people to work, make them earn their living by doing something knowledge-focused and measurable, and if they cannot, fire them, and you will see how much better things will get at the VA. This joke of an organization has gone on too long and at way too many people’s expense.

  26. HARVEY ORIEL    

    The good news is that as of this week employees of the VA that I have spoken to have been very helpful and courteous. In the past they were HORRIBLE. Hung up the phone, requested the same information 8 times, did not answer questions, and put up barriers all along the way. The system is terrible. Thick with layers of people and processes. Total nonsense.
    I am very educated including a law degree. I have found the process of applying and appealing a decision to be very unfair especially in light of the fact that the VA professes to assist the veteran. The new Secretary is beginning to make noticeable changes. Many people need to be relieved of their assignment.

  27. Lawrence Gouge    

    I am just another nameless faceless vet trying to get the VA to respond to a few minor problems that I have. If the VA spent 1/10th the time working on my issues as the VA has spent avoiding, deflecting and seeking retribution on me my problems would be resolved. It appears to be business as usual (systematic failure) of patient treatment. I went through the IRIS system trying to resolve some of my issues that have not been taken care of locally. My issue was sent to the same individuals that couldn’t or wouldn’t resolve it in the past. The Office of the Inspector General acted like it was an imposition to even take down my information. My Congressmen show no interest. I guess if no campaign contribution is involved or a sound bite that aids their presidential campaign (sen. Cruz) they don’t seem to care. Congressman Vela responded asking for a release of my medical records. How do you keep a vet in suspense? Ask him for his medical records and when you receive them don’t respond. Try getting hold of Secretary McDonald or Mr. Sloan or one of their “customer” service representatives, good luck unless you work for 60 minutes.I moved and changed VA facilities and could not get an appointment until I “walked through the door” in McAllen, Tx. and waited for 5 months. I couldn’t figure out who’s butt I had to kiss to make the 83 day average the Inspector General said it was taking in this area. My advice is simple MBA Management by Walking Around or Management by Watching A@@holes. Just walk in unannounced to VA facilities and compare the number of patients to a non-VA doctor’s office.
    If I seem a little bitter I hope you see why.
    In closing I would like to say that I have met many well meaning doctors,nurses and other va employees that just seem to be caught up in upper management failure to reward positive interactions with patients..

  28. James Smith    

    Get rid of problem employees! They call in sick, arrive late to work, always on the internet, working on their issues and not on actual work.

  29. Bryan Wilhelm    

    I am a veteran and patriot. After leaving the Navy, I rose through the ranks to become CEO then international business consultant. My expertise is leadership and organizational change. Secretary Bob and I played on different playgrounds together…we are about the same age and developed our skills during the same time frame. It began with Management By Objective…then Total Quality… then six sigma… then flat organizations with self managed super teams.
    I have asked to serve in building one, first new leadership healthcare organization here in Baltimore to be a benchmark for all to follow… but no one has yet answered my call.
    Hello, can you hear me now?

  30. Mike Pieper    

    With all the negative comments about the VA I felt that it was time to comment about the quality of care and positive attitude that I receive from my primary care physician, Dr. Sohail of the Valdosta OPC. As my personal physician, he has handled my health care with professionalism and caring and has always responded to my inquiries through VA secure messaging in a timely manner. The VA would have less to worry about if they had additional staff of Dr. Sohail’s capacity as a medical professional. The other medical and administrative staff have demonstrated the same level of support.

  31. Lois Rash    

    I am getting my medical care from the Mountain Home VA in Johnson City, TN. I am having to wait months on end to see specialty doctors for my knee. I got told by an Orthopedic Specialist a week ago it is because of all the men and women coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq. I am sorry to say this that is no excuse with me. And besides I am already in their system why can’t I be seen first? I am frustrated and want to be seen now not after someone else who is not yet in their system.

  32. Glenn Stevens    

    My name is Glenn Stevens and I am a service connected disabled vet. I live in Pittsfield, MA and, though I do understand and feel for the vets that are having terrible problems getting help, I wanted to say something positive. I see my primary care Dr. at the Pittsfield VA Outpatient Clinic. The clinic has 2 Dr.’s and they see around 20,000 vets. I have never had to wait for an appointment. I see a mental health worker once a month, the nutritionist every 3 months,the Dr. that prescribes my psych meds every three months and I can walk in and see the nurse at any time. My Dr. sends me to the Northampton, MA VAMC for care that the clinic cannot provide. I have never waited for an appointment there either. The staff has been wonderful and they have helped me beyond what I ever dreamed possible. I also see Dr.’s at the Jamaica Plain VAMC and the West Roxbury VAMC, both in Boston. I live on the opposite side of the state and cannot drive myself to Boston any longer. The DAV picks me up at home and delivers me to Northampton in time to catch the 7AM shuttle to Springfield, Worcester and then Boston. Again, all the staff I have dealt with (and there are many) have been kind and helpful. I have had surgeries and other treatments in Boston and everything has been great. When I went in a few years ago to West Roxbury for day surgery, it didn’t go well. This was no fault of anyone in the hospital. My wife had driven me in and I was told I would have to stay for a week or more due to complications. We could not afford a hotel anywhere near the hospital so, the people at the Fisher house (which is on the campus) gave my wife a room for the duration and even gave her vouchers so she could get some clothes to wear while I was confined.

    If this seems long winded, I apologize, but I had to inject some positivity into these discussions. Mr. Secretary, I believe you have already been to Boston and I hope you saw the good that they do. No phony lists or rude staff. They stand out as examples for all VA employees. Without them, it is very likely I would not be here to write this today.

    To all my brother and sister vets from all services, keep hope alive! Things will improve. Our new Secretary of VA will see to that, I am sure.

    Thank you!

  33. Carl Golie    

    To U.S. Secretary for Veterans Affairs
    Honorable Robert McDonald

    Why does it take months (2-3) or longer for the VA to validate a veteran’s dependents when that information is available in DEERS and has already been validated by the US government?

    Thank you

    1. Scott Rabjohn    

      Don’t feel bad I have been waiting almost 2 years for the Phoenix VA to validate my dependents and add to my claim. It was in the final phase in September but got pushed back to pending decision approval with an estimated date of Nov 7. As usual the estimated date means nothing and apparently it takes longer than 2 months for someone to even look at the paperwork.

  34. Bryan Wilhelm    

    I send weekly change recommendations to Secretary Bob… I call it Bene-Suggs.
    Now, I will send those observations/recommendations to the New Chief of Customer Satisfaction. Everyone deserves to have a huge pile of letters waiting on their desk their first day on the job.
    Thanks Bob.
    You have all the right stuff… you have a success path going…Keep going.
    It will change all our lives soon.
    Thought! Have you prepared to take over the nation when the world sees the results you achieve.
    Remember rule no.1…. no good deed goes unpunished!
    I see push-back coming in from all fronts. Fact! They are all scared to death that you are the chosen one to carry positive change throughout our entire government.
    For now…
    God bless you and all you and your key players do for veterans.

  35. mary mcbride    

    its a shame veterans are treated so poorly instead of monuments they need health benefits pay increase &travel pay on main highways not backroads that take a lot longer to get less money the doctors don’t care if the do their job or not

  36. Jana Webb    

    I have been trying desperately to reach someone at the VA in Little Rock, AR about a bill they sent to my husband. It is a NOTICE OF INDEBTEDNESS for an ERRONEOUS PAYMENT. 1) I think it is bull that you would send a bill for something that the VA approved over 2 years ago, 2) I have been trying for 3 weeks to get some answers on why this bill was sent and all I have gotten is the run around. The phone number on the bill, when called, I was told I needed to call someone else. The number they gave me, when called, I was told to call someone else. That happened 4 times. The first person said if I don’t get any answers to call him back, I have, several times. Each time he has told me that he would check with his supervisor and call me right back. I still haven’t heard from him unless I call and then I get the same old song and dance. They have given us 30 days to get this taken care of or payment arrangements made. HOW CAN I DO THIS IF NO ONE WILL ANSWER THE PHONE???? This, on top of the run around we get over my husband’s health care is about to drive me crazy!!! With the treatment that my husband and others are getting, it makes me really glad that I am not in the family of some of these health care providers. If you have any suggestions on what we need to do, I would be glad to hear them.

  37. james hilliard    

    Well i know he does not want to hear another Veteran complain… well to start off my claim was in the decision phase, and it was pushed back to “gathering of evidence.”. so I call the ebenifits and they told me that they found a error, so it was pushed back from this date 2/15/2015 thru7/15/2015 now mind you this just for a signuture. but mr.mcdonald had ask how can we improve the VA?
    1) for sure no bonus’s…
    2) no work incentive’s
    3) hire other Veterans…
    4) open up Sub office’s in smaller towns/city that only work claims
    5) train the veterans that have served for many years they do know veterans
    6) claims should only take 100 days… i can go on for hours on how things should be ran but i dont work for the veterans admin..
    but to end this GOD FORBID WE WILL HAVE MORE VETS DIE,COMMIT SUCIDE, CLAIMS WILL BE PUSHED BACK, 3,4,5, YEARS SO THEY DONT HAVE TO PAY OR HELP OUT THE VETERANS… Lets hope that this not another dog and pony show… i am a willing veteran that will love to be trained to work for veteran admin…but this letter will not get a response.. it will be just another BACKLOG YET AGAIN… MR. MCDONALD I HOPE YOU HELP OUT YOUR COSTUMERS… THANK YOU FOR ALLOWING ME TO SPEAK… THANK YOU

    1. Jerry Alexander    

      CBS news reported last week 22 veterans per day commit suicide 8000 per year

      1. basnigs    

        You are so right about this. My claim was in the same phase and then pushed back to “gather of evidence” with estimated dates of 3/20/15 – 7/29/15. From my experience and what I have seen at VAMC in Seattle and the Federal Building in on 2nd Ave employees come to work at 09:00 am with two fifteen minute breaks and one hour lunch break leaving at 4:00 pm. This is why claims are backed up for two -three years or longer.

        Not only should the Secretary fire hospital employees, but also employees that work at the nations VA Regional Offices that makes decisions on claims. Start first right here at VARO Seattle Mr. Prieb.

  38. Timothy C Webber    

    Not a good start Sir. Poor choice to put a VA Employee only Link on a Public Website. You don’t know your veterans. Your name is already on it and already looks bad.

    “”””and create topic-related groups to encourage collaboration and help make the ideas a reality. The Idea House website will officially open for submissions tomorrow, Veterans Day, Nov. 11. I encourage you to go to vaideahouse.ideascale.com to submit your ideas and proposed solutions to the challenges you are seeing.

    Idea

    I know there are a lot of questions about this effort, and I know that there will be concerns. We don’t have all the answers right now, and that’s why we are reaching to you for your thoughts. This will be a fair and deliberate process, and we need your help to make sure our decisions are the right ones for Veterans.””””

    My Thoughts are to make every VA Employee use VHA as their Primary Medical provider. All of the dependents can use the provider of choice. As a Disabled Vet working for the VA, all employees should get the same health care I get, Including you.

  39. Herb Wamboldt    

    Was unemployed, have BS and MBA but 70 years old. Could not get job interview, then got one for entry level job. But, did not get it, was told apply for a night policeman/guard job and then once in the system could apply for jobs with better chance of landing. Is this a horse s–t system? Hiring process needs to be reviewed and those responsible need to be held accountable. VA service members should be select before civilian.

  40. Carl S Rollins Sr    

    As a Vietnam vet my opinion is that to change VA you need to cut the head off of the snake. Meaning you need to eliminate the employees with in VA that will not change. They will say and tell what ever you want to hear to save their job.In the end they will be your down fall as was the formal VA Secretary. To combine all 56 VA Regional Office to a central location that will give you more control will help with backlogs and other services.

  41. Steve Erlitz    

    I am a retired active/reservist. I filed for disability in Oct 2009 for knees and Asthma (No I was not a cigarette smoker). In November 2010 I was denied disability. I immediately filed an appeal. Got a SOC claim in November 2013 (finally) and filled the form 9 within 8 days. I have a receipt from the VA. In January 2014, my appeal was closed because they didn’t receive the form 9. It took six more months with the help of my senator to reopen the case because I could not get the incompetents in the Baltimore office to believe their own damn receipt. They finally reopened my case in July…My paper work is still in the Baltimore office waiting for god knows what to go before the BVA. It doesn’t take lawsuits this long to get resolved!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  42. Concerned Staff    

    WLA veterans home is in need of immediate investigation.
    Mass nightly elder abuse & cover – ups all reported and documented for years with nothing in return for our heroes.

  43. Danny    

    I just got off the phone with my local VA, specifically as I was told, the executive aid to the director, we had a nice conversation about a program I am involved in, UNTIL I made the mistake of saying the money is there! At this point, she very rudely said “HOW DO YOU KNOW THE MONEY IS THERE? ” I calmly and politely explained to her that our country has graciously provided the money to VA to take care of the veterans.this kind of attitude is what is causing so many veterans to despise the VA! Her attitude was fine until money was mentioned. We the veterans they have signed up to take care of no our country has given money for our care. her attitude in my mind only reinforced what many of us are thinking, it made me feel like she was mad because she wasn’t getting a big bonus this year. I wonder how many of the employees are mad because they don’t get a bonus this year. Boo hoo! Try living on what we get per year. Don’t get me wrong I’m grateful for what I get, but I also feel like we are earned it!

  44. William Vincent    

    I received in the us mail a request from the VA to fill out a survey and return it in the US mail..

    Their was no survey or return envelope or return address??

    Their was a website but the identification number and password word not work.

  45. Grace Todd    

    It is great to see some of the improvements in metric measurements that have already occurred since 2013, but the agency is also smart to recognize that the VA healthcare system will require long term planning for lasting improvements to occur. This strategy outlined in the blog is a great start and the aspects mentioned will directly address some of the root causes of the system’s failures. It’s emphasis on the need to decentralize the system’s operations with regional frameworks is important- administering healthcare that is held accountable is a difficult task in itself, and is traditionally community driven, so trying to monitor this all at a federal level leaves VHA employees frustrated and patients without the care they should be getting. The establishment of Community Veteran Advisory Councils is another great idea that should have been put into action years ago. This act will also allow VA healthcare administrators to operate their organization in a manner more fitted to their community and will make for an increased level of accountability. I also think the web tool set up by the agency to allow VA employee feedback is important as well. Low employee morale is a contributing factor to many of the system’s recent issues, but providing an opportunity for employees to voice their opinions will empower them and give the agency a greater understanding of what changes VA healthcare employees need and want to see.

    1. Kathleen    

      I agree. First I want to say I love working for the VAMC and I love working with Veterans. I have worked at 2 different VAs. At my first VA in Vision 10, employees were valued and were included in the decision making process that occurred. Great working environment and great relationship with Veterans. I still communicate with many of my co-workers there.
      At my current VA, the morale is extremely low. Committees are continuously developed to improved the working environment and processes, but seldom do you have anything make it out of committee. There are feelings of frustration among the staff that has lead to poor job performance and frequent call-in related to sick leave. As one would expect, our customers service scores are not very good. We are failing at customer service between VA management and VA staff. This inability to treat each other well within our VA community is making it difficult for many employees to provider award winning customers service to our nations Veterans. I am, with great anticipation, looking forward to changes that will address these issues that will and can make every VA, not only supreme in service to Veterans; but the number 1 place to work in the land.

  46. Wilbur Burton    

    I do have a small problem and maybe you can correct it I us the VA for all my medical treatment and after my P.C. Dr. retired I no longer have one because for over 3 months they say we are interviewing and have not made a decision and no telling how long this will take. You tell me what am I to do I served in Viet Nam and I served this country 100% and to be treated like this is wrong.Why is it that you can not fix a small problem.
    I need help today not next year.
    Thank You

  47. Wilbur Burton    

    I have a small problem I am a Viet Nam Veteran and at this time I do not have a P.C. Dr. and I have been told that I have to wait which may be good but how long am I to wait for the VA to get me a P.C. Dr.? I have put in a claim but it has also been there for over 2 years and then what another 2 years I must wait. You say no more than 180 days something is wrong lets fix it please

  48. james allen russell    

    I think we should enacted a VETERANS LOTTO just for vets using there last four and help each other and take some burden off the US treasury…

  49. Ron    

    After checking the number of military Veterans claims/appeals in Phila, the math works out that IF the 337 employees just did Only .26(that’s point 26) claims a day.. Total… ALL of the current AND Backlog would/could be done in 1 years time. TOTAL. Am I missing something? THEY HAVE A UNION: AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO
    Source: http://publicsource.org/investigations/after-guns-and-grenades-pa-veterans-claims-delayed
    Total Phila PA Vets\Claims Waiting = 23,208
    Work Days in the year = 260 +/-
    # Vets\Claims Divided by # Work Days = 90 claims a day
    # V.A. claims reps/processors, etc in Phila = 337
    (Source:) http://www.va.gov/oig/52/reports/2010/VAOIG-09-03846-93.pdf
    90 claims a day divided by 337 employees = Only .26(that’s point 26) claims per employee, per day

  50. Joseph Colon    

    Subj: Department of Veterans Affairs Job Vacancy Announcement Requirements that HURTS Veterans

    Honorable Bob McDonald, I would like to point out one of the reasons that Veterans that leave the service have issues finding a job. If you go to Section 8 on page 103 of the Master Agreement between the Department of the Veterans Affairs and the American Federation of Government 2011 Manuel it states the following: 

    Section 8 – Vacancy Announcements and Areas of Consideration

    All positions to be competitively filled in the bargaining unit by actions covered by this article shall be posted unless filled under Section 7 which provides for exclusions from coverage. For the same type of vacancy (title, series, and grade), a certificate may be used for up to 90 days to refer candidates without re-announcing the vacancy.

    .
    Prior to considering candidates from outside the bargaining unit, the Department agrees to first consider internal candidates for selection.

    .
    Areas of Consideration
    The areas of consideration will be:

    1.
    FIRST – Facility-wide (including satellites) except:

    b.
    This area may be made more narrow or expanded through mutual agreement;

    c.
    Where evidence suggests that the area of consideration is not expected to produce at least three qualified candidates, it may be expanded. (Thevacancy announcement will identify the expanded area of consideration.);

    d.
    For VACO unit positions, GS-12 and above, the area of consideration may be expanded.
    However, in all cases, (a, b, and c above), first and full consideration shall be given to any best qualified candidates within the facility (or more narrow area).

     
    I truly believe that that this requirement should be eliminated and every person should be allowed to compete under one announcement. This requirement it impedes our nation heroes from competing for a position because they are the ones outside looking in. Shouldn’t an institution that takes care of Veterans award a Veteran for defending our freedom. The way that you award the Veteran is by giving them every opportunity to find a job. Yes, the Department of Veterans Affairs employees are valuable and deserve to compete but so does our Nations Heroes, so we need your help to level the playing field. In addition, maybe this is one of the reasons that Veterans can’t find jobs. Thank you for your time and Happy Thanksgiving!
     

    Very Respectfully,

    Joseph. M. Colon, HMC(SW/AW/FMF), USN(Retired)

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