Commemorating Black History Month, “The American Veteran” honors the courage and sacrifice of African American Veterans that fought bravely throughout the history of the United States.
Call them VA’s “super sleuths” — only the codes they crack have more to do with genetics, and the killers they hunt go by the names of “cancer” and “heart disease.” The microscopes they work with are far too heavy to carry, and the coats they wear are not khaki trench, but laboratory white.
They are the more than 3,400 VA researchers nationwide whose meticulous work, piecing together “clues,” has led to health care breakthroughs, discoveries and treatments that improve the lives of Veterans and others. And for nearly 90 years, they’ve been working cases that would have made even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle blush!
Chances are, you or someone you know, has benefitted from their work.
The list of accomplishments includes: therapies for tuberculosis following World War II; the implantable cardiac pacemaker; computerized axial tomography (CAT) scans; functional electrical stimulation systems that allow patients to move paralyzed limbs; the nicotine patch; the first successful liver transplants; the first powered ankle-foot prosthesis; and a vaccine for shingles. Read More
It’s typical for the president to get away from the White House from time to time, but how many presidents relocated to a U.S. Soldier’s Home or lived on the grounds of a military cemetery?
Some of our earlier presidents had homes in close proximity to the Capitol, which made trips home practical, even without the means we have today. But what did our early presidents do when they were not from the area?
President Lincoln’s escape from the White House was not a ranch or beach house, but rather a simple cottage located on the grounds of the U.S. Soldier’s Home, three miles north of the Capitol. The house and its accompanying 200 acres were donated to the federal government in 1851, by local bank owner George Washington Riggs Jr., for the purpose of establishing the nation’s first Soldier’s Home, and it remains in service to our Veterans today.
“We think that at Lincoln’s inaugural dinner, President Buchanan tipped him off to the fact that the Soldiers’ Home was a great place to spend the summers in Washington, D.C.,” said Erin Mast, the director at President Lincoln’s Cottage. The pre air-conditioning era presidents often relocated during the hot summer months.
This week’s stories in VA News:
Hosts: Onika Coke-Munoz and Clifton Coates
Excutive Producer: Ken McKinnon
Run Time: 12:23
For the fifth consecutive time in 13 years, the National Cemetery Administration (NCA) received the highest ranking of any participating entity—public or private—on the American Customer Satisfaction Index or ACSI. Our score of 96 surpassed the scores of industry leaders like Apple, Lincoln Motor Company and Coca-Cola, and was the highest ever attained in the history of the index. That’s pretty thrilling. What’s even more exciting to me, though, is that our performance on 2013’s survey was two points better than on 2010’s, meaning we haven’t rested on our laurels.
We take part in the ACSI process every three years, but we also survey next-of-kin and funeral directors annually. Results from the independent 2013 Survey of Satisfaction with National Cemeteries mirror what we see in the ACSI, with 98 percent of respondents agreeing the quality of service received from cemetery staff is excellent.
While it’s always gratifying to read where we’re succeeding, the most critical information we gain from these surveys centers around where we’re falling short of expectations. Focusing on those areas allows us to adjust our training programs, business planning and metrics to ensure we keep improving.
For example, goals in our strategic plan call for 100 percent of respondents to agree by 2015 that cemetery service and appearance are excellent. We still have some work to do to reach that mark but we’re making steady progress. A monthly scorecard posted at each cemetery shows staff members how their performance compares with other cemeteries in their region and across the nation, and serves as a daily reminder of their direct impact on customer satisfaction.
Some outside NCA have said 100 percent satisfaction is an unrealistic goal, but as the great Vince Lombardi once said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.“
I’m genuinely proud of our dedicated employees and volunteers, who keep finding new ways to express their compassion and professionalism. I know they agree that our greatest reward comes from hearing that we served Veterans and their families well on one of the toughest days of their lives. That’s what keeps us striving; that’s what fuels our pursuit of excellence.
For more information: http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2519
Steve Muro is the VA’s Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs
VA’s new Post-9/11 GI Bill Comparison Tool makes it easier for Veterans, service members, survivors, and dependents to calculate their education benefits at schools and programs across the country.
Within just a few clicks, the comparison tool not only calculates the benefits you can receive at a particular school, it also provides information on the school’s GI Bill beneficiary population, graduation rates and even loan default rates.
If your going back to school, and don’t know which university is the best fit for you and your goals, or even if the program is approved by VA, make sure to make the comparison tool your first stop on your path to an education.
With the release of the January 2014 unemployment data this week, we see Veteran unemployment numbers have largely held steady with a slight increase in post 9-11 Veteran unemployment. We’ve included some graphs that display Veteran unemployment data since January 2010.
In December 2013, the Veteran unemployment rate was 5.5 percent, rising a fraction to 5.6 percent in January 2014 (see graph at top of page.) The post-9/11 “Gulf War II” era Veteran population (graph below) saw a small rise, from 7.3 to 7.9 percent. While the Gulf War II-era Veteran data is slightly higher than the national average of 6.6 percent, overall Veteran unemployment remains a point lower.
Read more at: The Faces Behind VA Services – VA Services Showcase
This week’s stories in VA News:
Hosts: Jeanette Mendy and Darrin Pope
Excutive Producer: Ken McKinnon
Run Time: 14:47
Sharing information on services for Veterans was the primary focus of the VA Services Showcase held VHA National Conference Center in Arlington, Va. on Wednesday, Jan. 29. Representatives from VA program offices, support services and Veteran-related organizations participated in the event, which gave attendees a chance to interact and share resources with each other.
VA is working to let Veterans know that there are a wide range of programs and services, and a dedicated workforce –many of whom are Veterans themselves – ready to help them navigate all the possibilities.
Below we highlight some of the programs present at the showcase – just a few of the many services VA offers. If you are looking for a specific VA program or service, please post it in the comments and we will do our best to connect you with the best place to start.