Engaging. Not a word which many Veterans typically use to describe their relationship with the Department of Veterans Affairs. A more common word associated with VA and its interaction with Vets? Adversarial.

It’s disappointing, but that’s the reality. For too many Veterans (and families), communicating with VA can be such a hassle that it affects the Department’s ability to carry out its mission of providing benefits and services to America’s former service members. If Veterans and VA are talking past each other—or not talking to each other at all, then two things happen: Vets don’t know what they’re entitled to or how to get it, and VA doesn’t know what needs Veterans have.

At VAntage Point, the official blog of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, that same old way of communicating (or not communicating) goes out the window. Here, VA employees will provide Veterans with a wealth of information. We will talk about things you might not have been aware of and we’ll break down and explain processes which might have bewildered you. But it doesn’t end there. If you’re a student on the GI Bill, a Vietnam Vet, a VA employee, the spouse of a VA patient, or anything else, you’ll have the opportunity to contribute. We’ve opened the comments section of each of our front-page posts and we have a special section for “Guest Posts” where you can submit your own writing for publication.

For us at VA, this is just a start. It’s the beginning of a new relationship between the Department and those we serve—where we strive to get the right information to the right Veteran at the right time. And we hope you’ll join us in making it happen.

Meet the Team:


Heintz Melissa 23Melissa Heintz

Staff Writer
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Melissa Heintz joined the VA’s Digital Media Engagement team as a public affairs specialist in October 2015. She grew up on an Army base in Japan before her family relocated to Hawaii. She holds a degree in Journalism/Mass Communications and Spanish from Seattle University. Melissa has served as a public affairs specialist with Navy Region Hawaii Fleet and Family Readiness and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. In December 2015, Melissa commissioned in the Rhode Island Air National Guard where she serves as a public affairs officer with the 143rd Airlift Wing.


GaryHicksGary Hicks

Senior Writer
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Gary Hicks is a public affairs specialist in VA’s Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs and serves as the editor of the Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors handbook, VAnguard magazine and other internal and external print communications products used throughout VA. Prior to joining OPIA, Gary worked for VA’s Center for Veterans Enterprise as a community liaison officer and small business specialist assisting Veteran entrepreneurs with starting and expanding small businesses. Prior to joining VA, he was the director of command information at the National Guard Bureau and served as the editor of the Army and Air National Guard’s flagship publication, The OnGuard. Gary began his public affairs career as an Army photojournalist, deploying to Bosnia-Herzegovina. After the deployment, he landed a job as a staff writer at a daily newspaper – eventually working his way up the ladder to become the youngest managing editor in the paper’s 111-year history as well as the parent company’s chain of 300 newspapers. He served on active duty in both the Army and the Air Force before joining VA in 2006. Gary’s wife is an Air Force Senior NCO stationed at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.


James Killen

Staff Writer
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

James Killen is a public affairs specialist and member of VA’s digital engagement team.  James is a Louisville, Kentucky, native who enlisted in the Marine Corps five days after high school. As a CH46E mechanic he deployed twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the initial invasion, and then to the Al Anbar Province 04-05. He also participated in the Hurricane Katrina relief operations in 2005. James is currently a member of the Kentucky Air National Guard and serves as the public affairs officer for the 123rd Airlift Wing. In addition to his military experience, James was a Department of the Army civilian working closely with mobilized Reservists and active duty Soldiers who were deploying in support of combat operations in the Middle East. James is a certified master resilience trainer and works with law enforcement officers on emotional intelligence and resilience. He is a father of three beautiful girls, a huge Chicago Cubs fan and a die-hard Kentucky Wildcat. Go Big Blue!


Megan Moloney

Director of Digital Media Engagement
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Megan joined VA in May 2013 as the Director of Digital Media Engagement. Megan has overseen a wide range of media and public relations activities at several federal agencies. Among those assignments, she served as press secretary to Adm. Thad Allen on the Deepwater Horizon response, and was the Director of Radio and Television Production for the White House Press Office. Megan has also worked as a radio and television reporter, producer, and director, and is the recipient of several Ohio Associated Press awards and regional Emmy nominations. She holds degrees from Miami University (BS, Mass Communications) and Johns Hopkins University (MA, Management). A native of Lexington, Kentucky, Megan is married to an Army Veteran, and is the daughter and granddaughter of Army and Navy Veterans who served in World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Megan is also a certified Irish dance instructor and an animal rescue volunteer.



Pool Pass 2014 Jen PicJennifer Sardam

Staff Writer
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Jennifer Sardam is a VA public affairs specialist and a U.S. Army Veteran who served as an Army journalist during Operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn. She currently serves in the Maryland Army National Guard with the 29th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment based out of Baltimore.



Josh Tuscher

New Media Technologist
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

As VA’s New Media Technologist, Josh Tuscher serves as the team’s creative director and ensures the Department uses the most current communications platforms to engage with Veterans. Prior to joining VA, Josh worked as a graphic designer and web developer in the private sector. During that time, he served for eight years as an infantryman in the New Hampshire Army National Guard and Army Reserve. In 2004, Josh deployed to Balad, Iraq with the 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry Regiment. After returning in 2005, Josh again mobilized—this time for duty in New Orleans assisting with relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina. While in Iraq, Josh kept extensive video footage, later contributing it to the combat documentary “The War Tapes” (for which he received a credit). The film went on to win “Best Documentary” at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival. Josh graduated in 2006 with a BFA from Keene State College.



ca89d35dad441373fe4b735491e29864Dwayne Wingfield

Staff Writer
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Dwayne Wingfield is a public affairs specialist and digital content producer in VA’s Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs. Prior to joining VA, Dwayne worked for Tuskegee University’s College of Agricultural Environmental and Natural Sciences as their communications officer. Before that, he spent 12 years working in various television newsrooms as a reporter and producer. Dwayne is an Army Veteran and a Navy brat. He holds BA in Mass Communications from Alabama State University.