On Thursday, Jan. 21, VA Secretary Bob McDonald appeared before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee to discuss VA’s transformation strategy, specifically examining the plan to modernize VA. McDonald took the opportunity to discuss VA’s transformation plan, MyVA.
According to the Secretary, “MyVA is about fulfilling the nation’s obligation to those who have served and that they share our vision for VA to become the #1 customer-service agency in the government.”
McDonald explained to members of the committee the framework to transform all of VA “by combining functions, simplifying operations, and providing Veterans care and services so that they see VA as MyVA—a world-class, customer-focused, Veteran-centered service organization.” There are five critical MyVA objectives.
“We know that VA has significant issues that need to be addressed—so we’re listening to others’ perspectives and investing in our people,” McDonald said. That includes working collaboratively with world-class institutions to capture ideas and best practices, as well as listening to key stakeholders, even those who are critical of VA.
A number of military and industry experts have provided their feedback on MyVA and the VA transformation process.
“I’m very pleased to see the progress made by VA in the last year and I believe this plan will deliver real change for our nation’s Veterans, ” said Joe Robles, former president and chief executive officer of USAA. Robles, a retired U.S. Army major general, serves as chairman of the MyVA advisory committee.
Lourdes Tiglao is also a member of the advisory committee. “The differences I’ve seen each time I visited the VA as a patient have been palpable, and I’m very optimistic in the changes taking place,” she said. “The Veteran-centric model that the VA is adopting through the MyVA initiative is a significant step in the right direction.”
DAV’s national legislative director, Joy Ilem, said in a statement delivered to senators, “The Secretary came into VA during a crisis and a low point for the department and we acknowledge his hard work and that of his team to properly assess and lay out a comprehensive plan to improve systemic business practices as well as his dedication to the VA’s core mission of serving veterans and efforts to improve the veterans experience. DAV believes the Secretary’s plan is thoughtful and heading in the right direction. Most importantly it focuses, at its core, on the veteran, as it should.”
Teresa Carlson is vice president of the Worldwide Public Sector for Amazon Web Services and sits on the MyVA committee. “The MyVA initiative has made positive strides by putting the focus back on the Veterans. The VA’s transformation is an important step in ensuring that the agency can better serve our Veterans, and their families,” Carlson said.
“I have been impressed by the dedication and hard work of the MyVA committee to institute major changes that impact the culture and function of today’s VA in order to proudly serve our Veterans,” said Dr. E. Connie Mariano. Dr. Mariano retired as a rear admiral with the U.S. Navy and served as a White House physician from 1992 to 2001.
Army Veteran and West Point graduate Herman Bulls said he was “pleased to see that the MyVA vision lays out a plan for VA to improve its internal operations and interactions with key stakeholders…most importantly, our Veterans. If successful, it will greatly benefit Veterans and their families, employees and our nation.”
During the hearing, Secretary McDonald highlighted 12 priorities designed to improve the delivery of timely care and benefits to Veterans – eight focused on Veteran experience and four internal-facing reforms to VA systems. “But make no mistake—all 12 are designed to improve the delivery of timely care and benefits to Veterans,” McDonald explained.
Read more about the ongoing work of the MyVA transformation and advisory committee here on Vantage Point.