Keeping in Touch: VBA Conducts Outreach and Collects Feedback

Headshot of author Richard Allen SmithTwo minutes, seventeen seconds. That’s how long it took for an Army Soldier to sign up for a Premium account on eBenefits, the joint VA-DoD one-stop shop for benefits-related information for Veterans, Service Members, their families, and their caretakers. I clocked this personally to test eBenefits’ quick signup claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs booth at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) annual meeting in Washington, DC last Fall.

Representatives from VBA’s Benefits Assistance Service (BAS) conduct dozens of outreach activities each year. It’s just one of the many ways VBA stays in contact with the Veterans we serve. We do this not just to help them obtain the benefits they earned and deserve, but also to obtain opinions on how we’re doing. Ultimately, if we aren’t staying connected with Veterans feedback and making improvements, we can’t know how best to support them.

Surrounding one of VA’s Mobile Vet Centers at AUSA and nestled between a video game-style weapons simulator and a vendor demonstrating aiming lasers were VA employees from several different VA service lines. Representatives from Education Service answered questions about GI Bill benefits, particularly transferability for the active duty Soldiers present, and the outreach team from BAS was on hand registering attendees in eBenefits.  By the early afternoon on Monday, the eight-member BAS team had already enrolled 42 new members in the online benefits portal.

In addition to VBA’s attendance at numerous outreach events throughout the nation, last fall the Administration commissioned J.D. Power and Associates to conduct customer satisfaction research on its behalf.  VBA’s Voice of the Veteran satisfaction initiative leverages J.D. Power and Associates’ expertise in customer satisfaction research to identify the factors critical to Veterans’ satisfaction with services and benefits issued by VBA.  This initiative will enable VBA to continuously measure and improve the level of service to Veterans and beneficiaries.

The Voice of the Veteran satisfaction initiative began in October. By the time it is completed, J.D. Power and Associates will have collected the responses of more than 30,000 Veterans and beneficiaries.  Veterans and beneficiaries have been chosen randomly by J.D. Power and Associates, and will be asked to provide feedback on how VA is performing in the areas of benefits enrollment and delivery.  This initiative will focus on compensation, pension, education, home loan guaranty, specially adapted housing, and vocational rehabilitation and employment benefits.

VBA also collects feedback from Veterans through our social media channels. We maintain a Twitter feed and a Facebook page to provide important information to Veterans, as well as take in responses from users on those pages. Our social media team members engage with Veterans everyday on these channels. If you have questions about your benefits, feel free to direct them to these accounts.

For questions about the Voice of the Veteran Satisfaction initiative, contact J.D. Power and associates at 877-774-5372 (toll-free) or by e-mail at The BAS outreach team is constantly adding upcoming outreach events to the VBA Facebook page, so check it often to see when they are coming to a city near you.

Richard Allen Smith is a Web Communications Specialist for the Veterans Benefits Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Richard served on active duty in the United States Army from 2003-2008 and deployed to Afghanistan with 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division in 2007.


Richard Allen Smith


  1. G.Proft    

    It seems as the V.A is nothing more tham a lip service,it has been over 6 month,s since i put in for medical assistance,after submitting over 3.5 lbs of medical verification…The military takes care of thair own?????

  2. Charles Lilly    

    The Benztropine Mesylate prescribed by Dr. Ashgar isn’t doing anything for my tremors. I don’t think it is wise just to stop it, but when I called into the automated Pharmacy for a refill, the automated voice said that it was no longer refillable, I was without it for a few days. It made no difference. My Psychologist; Dr. Milbourne takes notice of my tremors, but I have had the tremors for over 3 years and they are getting worse. I was never a drug user or an alcoholic, I simply DON’T FEEL GOOD. The tremors are very very annoying. I had to go to 6A a few months ago because I couldn’t sleep, I was shaking madly and felt that I could no longer live this way. My Psychological diagnosis / prognosis is incurable but not untreatable.
    When I get the appointment letter from your Staff, I will like to talk options with you. Dr. Benjamin doesn’t want to have anything to do with me when I asked for a CAT SCAN. He wanted to send me to Baltimore for a CAT SCAN, that’s a lot of traveling to go from Frederick to Martinsburg, then to Baltimore, then back to Martinsburg, then back to Frederick. Somehow I think I was being messed with after I asked for a second opinion. Can you put in a consult for me? I get so darned depressed when I am battling for medical services. I am a 100% service connected disabled veteran, do I have any rights?

  3. Amy Viklund    

    Can you please post the VBA Outreach Direct Website Link? (not only a Facebook link & access). Many people, especially Older Vets, Disabled, Domestic Violence Victims for safety reasons, those without regular internet access, incarcerated Vets, etc). Also, the link is broken. Additionally, contact address, email, phone number, fax number, POCs would be great as well. I am in Program Development, King County Re-Entry Services, Justice Involved Veterans and am currently planning three large Veteran Services/Benefits Events for our Region. I would love to engage VBA Outreach Team, Education Team, et al in our planning & development. Additionally, any input and engagement by Federal VA or State VA Agencies is welcomed and any data they may provide on Outreach and Event Marketing and logistics would always be appreciated. Of course, participation us especially is great demand as well.

    1. Kate Hoit    


      Here is a link to VBA’s event page:

      Hope this helps!

  4. Kenneth V Aeverman 2480    

    Someone in the VA dropped the ball.
    I originally requested that my Guaifensin RX that I been taking regularly be reinstated online so I could request a refill. I was completely out of the medication and the medication read 0 refills online. It took 11 days to receive the refill.

    The following is my communication with the VA:

    Mr Aeverman,

    Guaifenesin has been shipped and should arrive in 2-3 days.

    Thank you,

    Jennifer Priest, PharmD
    PCC Pharmacist

    Previous Messages in Thread

    ——Original Message————————
    Sent: 01/16/2013 01:32 PM
    To: ***Maruf Team 6 PC NLR
    Subject: Medication Inquiry

    I received other medications in the mail today but still no Guaifenesin.
    Prescription Number: 364467283
    Prescription Name GUAIFENESIN 400MG TAB
    Fill Date 1/10/2013
    Dispensed On 1/14/2013
    Refill Status Active
    Ordered On 1/7/2013

    Kenneth V Aeverman

    ——Original Message————————
    Sent: 01/11/2013 08:47 AM
    From: CRAIG, DEBRA
    Subject: Medication Inquiry

    Mr Aeverman,
    The quaifenesin was mailed on 1.10.13 if that helps. If you do not receive it within a reasonable amount of time, please contact pharmacy as they can trace where it went. The test strips has 3 refills, that order expires on 1.11.14. It is due to be mailed on 2.27.13. I hope this helps.
    Thank You

    Debra Craig

    ——Original Message————————
    Sent: 01/10/2013 11:23 AM
    To: ***Maruf Team 6 PC NLR
    Subject: Medication Inquiry

    I received your reply 1/7/2013 but still do not have the RXs and they still do not appear available for online ordering:

    I am out of RX#364060846B
    GUAIFENESIN 400MG TAB and have 0 refills.
    I also need to refill RX#364131391B
    ACCU-CHEK AVIVA PLUS(GLUCOSE) TEST STRIP in February and have 0 refills.

    Kenneth V Aeverman

    ——Original Message————————
    Sent: 01/07/2013 03:30 PM
    From: MARUF, LUBNA
    Subject: Medication Inquiry

  5. Cynthia K. Dias    

    I have to say that my VA experience here in Tampa has improved since being assigned to the Women’s Center. My nurse practitioner, Joanne Coe, was sooooo thorough on getting my medical history. The chiropractor, Richard Procter, really fixed my lower back issues. I still have some pain (the weather got colder), but it is more bearable than before as he has prescribed some medication that does not leave me soooo incapacitated (anti-inflammatory) . I am a licensed RN in Hawaii and just moved back to Florida as the economy has changed. I am without health insurance and am grateful for the VA accessibility.

  6. john Baylock    

    hello how does the VA evaluate a vets disability if he served in nam i have been to the VA hospital evaluated in delaware which is 90 min. from home a year and half ago and only assume i was not qualified. i am sitting at home with a case of Copd no pention stated disability . had open heart surgery was in nam when agent orgen was being spared i beleive 1971 trip Danag Harbor aboard the uss Durham LKA 114.. SERVED 1969 TO 1973 WOULD YOU NOTIFY THEM THAT i AM STILL ALIVE.

  7. Jon    

    Thank you for this piece. Can you please tell me how I can get access to my Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits? I am being told that it will be 16 weeks before I can receive any benefits. I think this is far too long for a simple claim for benefits.
    Can anybody with Benefits Assistance Service assist me with receiving my benefits?

  8. Elmer Hamilton    

    I have a question for the VBA. I thought it might be more private on this site rather than on your Facebook site. Today I received a VA letter dated 01-14-13 asking me for more info on the pension claim I filed on 08-17-12 via VONAPP. The letter was from VA, Pension Management Center (335/21P), PO Box 11000, St. Paul, MN 55111-0000. Their letter asked several questions & I have answered all but one. By the way, when I filed my pension claim it was based on the fact that I turned age 65 on 10-24-2012. Their letter says “please provide us with medial evidence of your permanent and total disability or of your inability to work.” That statement has me puzzled because I filed my claim based on my eligibility at age 65—–NOT on a permanent and total disability. All the pension eligibility info at the VA website says an applicant can file a pension claim based on their eligibility at age 65—–OR——on eligibility on a permanent & total disability. I filed my pension claim based on my age of 65. So should I disregard their request for the disability info? I am already receiving a VA disability compensation of $395.00 per month on a 30% rating which began in the fall of 2010. Do you think they misunderstood something in my claim? I answered all questions & thought it was very clear that I was filing based on my age of 65. Their letter says to return the requested statements with the completed answers by 30 days. I see no reason why I should provide info on a disability that I am not claiming. Am I correct? What do you think? Is there a way for you to let them know? Please let me know. Thanks.

  9. Roby L. Baisden    

    I am a VietNam Disabled Veteran and I don’t know why you want to hear my story. The gov’t of the United States of America betrayed us. That’s why you don’t want to hear what I have to say. It surely wouldn’t be very pleasant to your ears. I sure hope you post this so some of my Brothers can put a stamp of approval on it.

  10. Robert R. Mullay    

    Is this the bitch and gripe section?

    I was injured in the Army.

    When I tried to get my records, they burned at the St. Louis records center.

    When I finally got the medical records (they didn’t burn anyplace) the injury portions were missing. That’s one down……

  11. Leo M    

    The VA word for some, though some of us fall through the cracks and have our lives destroyed. When that happens, the VA turns their back.

  12. Vanessa    

    I disagree that getting a premium takes only a few seconds!!! My son and I have tried numerous times to get a premium account thru ebenefits and was told by his service officer that she had to get him a code to enable him to get a premium account. He has done in person verification and still no codes. I know there is a big gap in ALL vets discharge process! There is to little written information given at or before discharge and many of these vets have TBI/PTSD and many other disorders that diminish/eliminate their ability to retain the information. My son says it would be great if a spouse or a loved one could be present when this info is given or at least give written sources for funding, treatment, financial, housing….should I go on? I am a vet but do not suffer any of these life altering tragedies. I am ashamed or how our government is treating our vets especially the OEF/OIF!! These soldiers and their families gave their lives for our freedom!!! Why should they suffer any additional physical, mental, and emotional trauma from the VA system then the hell in which they came from. Now we are receiving more vets from Afghanistan that only exaserbate the situation. There are not enough people or organizations in place to respectfully take care of these vets. I would love to learn how to become a veterans advocate. I have a background in nursing and would be able to provide many types of information for these vets. LU23

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