Reflections of VHA 2013: Personalized, Proactive, Patient-Driven Health

I’ve just completed my first full year with VA as the Marketing Liaison for VHA Healthcare Recruitment and Marketing. Over the past twelve months I have been blessed to meet or become aware of VHA family members who serve in the first ranks of providing personalized, proactive, patient-driven healthcare to our Veterans.

As I reflect over the past year’s interface with our VHA team, I am moved by their enthusiasm, sincerity and commitment to serve America’s Heroes.

Connecting with a Veteran at the Bay Pines VAHCS in Tampa, 2013

For instance, I met Rudy Mannari, PA-C during a photo shoot at the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System in St. Petersburg, FL. A Viet Nam era Army Veteran, Mannari is six years past retirement eligibility and still specializes in reconstructive plastic surgery, hand and wound care. I remember Mannari telling me, “I do what I can to make things happen for [Veterans], to improve their quality of life.”

Christine DeLisle, an occupational therapist at the VA Southern Nevada, is also dedicated to improving the quality of life for our Veterans. DeLisle provides one-on-one care and mentoring to our disabled Veterans so they can adapt and carry skills acquired in the clinic to their home environment. “From the clinic, to the home, that’s our goal,” she said.

That determination to improve our Veterans’ quality of life includes the presence of mind to follow up with our patients—an important element to personalized, proactive, patient-driven healthcare to our Veterans.

Suffering from a heart condition, Larry Kerr, a 65-year-old Air Force Veteran, was diagnosed by Dr. Alexis Harrison, cardiologist at the medical intensive care unit at Salt Lake City VA. After running an electrocardiogram, Harrison recommended Kerr use a Holter monitor device to record his heart rhythm. The monitor did its job. Within a couple of days, it alerted VA doctors that Kerr had a fast, irregular heart rhythm that could potentially kill him suddenly. VA medical staff informed Kerr of his condition and notified local police and emergency medical service personnel who arrived at his home within minutes. Kerr was rushed to the nearest hospital where he was stabilized and then transferred to the Salt Lake VA. (Read more)

There are countless other examples of our VA healthcare professionals providing customer service driven healthcare to America’s Heroes. They accomplish this by learning as much as they can about their patients; developing courteous relationships with them and helping them lead long, healthy lives.

These efforts, compliment the investments VA has made in the technologies that best meet the needs of Veteran patients to include performance measurement, electronic health records, telehealth, research and. VA was recently named to the 2013 “Most Wired” hospitals list.

The list, which is released by Hospitals & Health Networks, in partnership with McKesson, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) and the American Hospital Association (AHA), is the result of a national survey aimed at ranking hospitals that are leveraging health information technology (HIT) in new and innovative ways.

Bottom line: The VA model of providing personalized, proactive, patient-driven healthcare to our Veterans health care is a reality. It is a reality because of the VHA total team effort to enhance the quality of life for our Veterans and their families. It is our way of saying, “thank you for serving.”

Does the VA model of delivering personalized, proactive, patient-driven healthcare to our Veterans appeal to you? If so, then make it your New Year resolution to visit VA Careers to learn how you can become a part of this legacy of service at

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Take Your Nursing Career to the Next Level as a Nurse Executive at VA

Veterans Health Administration, the nation’s largest and most technologically advanced integrated health care system, provides an extraordinary environment for you to make a difference in the lives of our Veterans and your career!

Nurse Executive opportunities are currently available at the following locations:

Milwaukee VA Medical Center, Milwaukee, WI

VA Pacific Islands Health Care System, Honolulu, HI

Philadelphia VA Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA

VA Western NY Health Care System, Buffalo, NY

VA Central California Health Care System, Fresno, CA

G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VAMC, Jackson, MS

Loma Linda Health Care System, Loma Linda, CA

Central Texas Veterans Health Care System, Temple, TX

San Francisco VA Medical Center, San Francisco, CA

Canandaigua VA Medical Center, Canandaigua, NY

Central Alabama Veteran HCS (CAVHCS), Montgomery, AL

Detroit VA Healthcare System, Detroit, MI

Houston VAMC, Houston, TX

Harry S. Truman VA Hospital, Columbia, MO

Chillicothe VA Medical Center, Chillicothe, Ohio

Carl Vinson VAMC, Dublin, GA

Tomah VA Medical Center, Tomah, WI

Inquire or send resumes to (or

Nurse Executive

As a VHA Nurse Executive, you’ll be part of a Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT), collaborating with fellow clinical and executive leaders and ensuring that our Veterans receive the best care possible. VHA is the largest employer of nurses in the nation and offers an evidence based, patient-centered environment, rich with a variety of professional development programs, as well as scholarship opportunities to pursue advanced degrees.

Nurse Executives are members of VHA senior management teams, leading the way by:
Serving as the top executive within nursing and a key member of the executive leadership team of the organization, involved in strategic planning, organizational assessment, and program development.

Developing organizational-wide plans and standards for nursing care, treatment, and
services and the programs, policies and procedures that address how the nursing care needs of the patient population are assessed, met, and evaluated.

Acting as chief spokesperson for nursing services and the catalyst for the integration
and collaboration of nursing with other professional disciplines to achieve organizational

Directing their departments in fiscal and human resource management, quality management, efficiency of service delivery, customer satisfaction, recruitment and retention, performance review, employee education and training, employee recognition and rewards, and labor relations.

In addition to an exceptional work/life balance, VA nurses also enjoy the following benefits:

• One license/50 states

• Nationwide job transfers

• Competitive salaries/pay differential rates

• Generous vacation, personal, and sick leave, as well as 10 Federal holidays

• Stable retirement and health care plans

Hear What Our Employees Are Saying

Explore VA Benefits

Learn About Work/Life Balance

Nursing Employment Brochure

Visit to learn more and to apply for a position online.

Department of Veterans Affairs is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

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Why does VA Careers have a Facebook page?

I remember when I was a small boy living in Lovington, New Mexico, I would watch cartoons after dinner in the winter. It got dark early that time of year and of course that meant a choice of about 5 TV Channels or pestering my sister. So, television worked out great for me until Dad came into the living room where our only television was, and switched over to “the NEWS”! I hated the news!! Can you imagine how boring the news was in Southeast New Mexico? The news came from the “Big City” Roswell, and, not only was there nothing to do in Roswell for a boy, but there was even less happening in Lovington. After ruining my night, Dad would then spread the newspaper up and across his chest clearly blocking his view of the television. There was absolutely no way for him to see the news from that angle. So I ask, why was I subjected to such torture and denial of cartoons, if he was not even watching it?

I am obviously not over that life back in the wild 70s. But today, I am a Dad and I rarely get my news from the TV. I get mine from the internet, just like most professionals do. I keep up with all my friends and family on Facebook, my peers on LinkedIn, and I get my current events and random political harassing fix on Twitter.

Today, when people search for a job, they look everywhere. Even if they aren’t searching for a job, the jobs appear on search engines, company pages, advertisements, and when they trigger the eye, it makes us think for a second about “what if” or “do I know someone who would like this job?” We then are provided a simple method to share that job opportunity with others or to send to ourselves to follow up with later. Either way, America is online. People search for jobs how and where they live their lives, socially. And that is why VA is on Social Media, because we have to be to stay relevant, to reach people where they spend the greater part of their days.

So be sure to join in and learn more about VA Careers on each social media site. Most departments and facilities have their own pages that focus on specific regions or topics. Then we can let the kids watch a cartoon every now and then.

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Veterans helping Veterans and why Healthcare providers must keep them moving

When a person exits the Military, they have many options and roads to take. Some are well planned and like many of us, circumstances direct our path and dictate where we land. But no matter the direction a Veteran takes, there is one thing that is common; they help fellow Veterans along the way. And that is a great thing.

I spent the weekend with 20+ Veterans in the woods this weekend hunting deer. It provided a great time of reflection, assistance, healing and all around fellowship for everyone involved. We hunted with Veterans and were fed by Veterans. Veterans supplied the land we hunted on and rides, as needed. The entire community participated in the excitement. The community ranch owners and staff cared for those needing extra assistance and trained the less experienced in the fine art of not freezing in a deer stand. We “watched” as our host artistically prepared our trophies for our return trips home and we ate meals made with love. What I will remember most are the hugs we received as we were leaving. You know how when you leave your dad or sister knowing you will not see them for a long time? Yeah, it was just like that.

As we prepared to depart on Sunday morning, Veterans presented handmade knives to those with the biggest deer. A Veteran shared his love of knife making with us all as he gave detailed descriptions of how he chose the design of this particular one. He took days off work to have it ready in time and truly was endeavored to make it just perfect. It was just a knife when he passed it around the tables for all to see, but after hearing him share and feeling his passion; it became a treasure from another Veteran’s heart and hands.

Veterans and non-Veterans alike shared in the special time to just live and experience a small piece of each other’s passions and trials. Everyone related to each other. Even though our experiences are different, we share a common bond of knowing trials and tribulations, success and passion, love and pain. Together the strong repaired the broken and the broken weakened the hardened, if even just a bit.


We had those with loss of limb, loss of motor skills, TBI and PTSD. Our Veterans, male and female, came with service dogs, mobility assistance and caregivers to be greeted by “any small town, USA.” Famous people, local celebrities, Blue Star Moms, Church members and Ranch owners and kids, all enjoyed the fruits of freedom. We were all reminded of who we fought for and just why freedom is so important. But to make all that happen, it starts with healthcare providers and support staff and leaders to ensure quality living of all Veterans is possible.

The entire event was organized by a Veteran. A service-connected disabled Veteran who is seeking employment. Other Veterans in attendance serve Veterans in their communities through kayaking, mentoring and even encouragement. It reminded me how important we all are to each other. Nothing heals like giving and sharing. There is a time for giving and a time for receiving. We had entire communities sharing their passions and skills with each other, bridging gaps in understanding and erasing any civilian-military divide.

For many of these reasons, I love working at VA and I love being a Veteran. It pains me when I hear something negative, but it drives most staff to do even more to make a difference. I am constantly reminded of why Veterans, including myself, are able to still serve others and live a quality life. It is because my providers keep me going; physically, mentally and emotionally. I appreciate each one of my providers, and the staff that greets me when I check-in and out. Especially, those in the lab that tolerate me being a baby about needles and who have not hurt/missed even once.

When we deal with healing, pain, loss or fear we can forget the feelings of those across a table. When we deal with many problems each and every day, we can forget that each person and their needs are unique. But any time we come together as a community, as family and friends, it ends with joy and appreciation as we give and receive to/from one another.

To be a part of our family and to learn how you can give back as well as receive, visit and apply today.

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Full Court Press — The VHA Way

Wade Habshey, Healthcare Recruitment Marketing Liaison

As a volunteer at the St. Jude’s Community Center’s Homeless Veteran Outreach program in New Orleans, Louisiana, I am amazed each day how Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can affect our Veterans differently. For some, the symptoms of depression, hopelessness, alcoholism and drug use or even suicide are immediate. In others, it can be a delayed reaction, where the Veteran may give the appearance of being in complete control of his or her life, only to resort to those most unwanted, worse-case scenarios mentioned above. My father, a Veteran of the Korean War, referred to this condition affecting his comrades as “wounds unseen.” He saw my friends and I, who reported for duty in the Far East in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and the sons, daughters and family members of all our conflicts, deal with “wounds unseen.”

“It’s going to take a full court press from government and from every community in the country to bring our Veterans back home,” my father would often tell me.

On Veterans Day, 2013, I had the opportunity to listen to two members of our Veteran family who lead VA’s full court press efforts to provide the very best health care for our Veterans suffering from those “wounds unseen.” Dr. Mary Schohn, head of Mental Health Operations and Michael Culpepper, Chief Officer of Workforce Management and Consulting with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) were featured on WFED Radio – Federal News Radio to discuss how VHA is meeting existing and future demands of health care services in a collaborative team environment.

Having played an important role in the highly successful Mental Health Hiring Initiative last year, Dr. Schohn spoke with WFED Radio about best practices in VHA in maintaining and improving the mental health and well-being of today’s Veterans through excellence in health care, social services, education, and research.

“We learned a lot in terms of how to improve our treatment,” said Dr. Schohn. “We’ve moved to evidence based psychotherapy so these treatments are very effective, they work and people get better.” Schohn also discussed how VHA is using technology to provide care through their mobile phones and mobile apps that can be used in conjunction with treatment and tele-mental health care to provide mental health services. Reaching the Veteran first is now a reality.

Culpepper provided some insight to the VHA recruitment selection process for mental health service providers. “As part of our selection process, we’re not just looking to make sure we have people who have correct credentials and correct privileges, but we also in our interview process, are making sure we have folks who are actually going to provide the best overall care.”

Culpepper added that VHA is always looking for health care talent and recommended that interested health care professionals should go to to actually see what opportunities VHA has available.

As the radio interview came to a close, I could hear my late father’s prediction, “It’s going to take a full court press from government and from every community in the country to truly bring our Veteran back home.” The proactive approach of VHA, in treating and maintaining the mental health of America’s veterans, is indeed a commendable service to our Heroes. And equally commendable is the invitation VHA is extending to health care professionals to join in that service to Veterans…and to America. You can join us in extending that invitation to serve by asking your friends and acquaintances in the mental health care community to visit

Listen to the audio recording of the program here.

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Do you hire Veterans?

Thanksgiving is meant to be a time of reflection on the many things we are thankful for in America. Are you thankful? Or are you hurt, bitter, tired, discouraged or biased?

I spent Thanksgiving interacting with Veterans online and the topic was not who won the football game, or the floats in the parades; rather it was why Veterans cannot get hired. Veterans are as varied and unique as leaves and snowflakes. While we are all different, we are all Veterans. A large percentage of us are able to find a suitable position, but many do not. It is that percentage that we all have an opportunity to aid.

Managing VA Careers’ social media allows me a unique ear to both sides of the fence, of Veterans and of employers. The opinions on both sides are affected by bias of both sides. It is the individual recruiter and hiring manager that follows the laws and rules or ignores them. However, it is also the jobseeker that corrects, educates and reports the violations or not. For instance, if I am told by a staffing agency that employers see “Veteran” as a red flag, then I know I am working with the wrong agency. If said agency is so uninformed and unskilled to educate their clients, then they are doing everyone a disservice. What company on the planet should employ all non-Veterans? Not only does that make little business sense, the agency is actually setting themselves and their employer clients up for potential lawsuits, liabilities and other outcomes that can affect the financial viability of all employees’ security when the company is sued for discrimination.

There are many resources available to educate businesses, such as the Department of Labor’s VETS Program: When quality agencies educate themselves and their clients, they are truly making a difference. When they fail to serve Veterans and clients, they will lose business. Find a quality agency that respects and values your education and experience and works for you and the employers to translate your skills and educate employers with the value. We as Veterans are leaders in our communities and are the voice for our fellow Veterans.

If you are a hiring manager, recruiter or a federal employee in the hiring process, it is your duty to know and enforce the laws. If a Veteran feels that preference was not applied or he/she has been discriminated against, it is detriment to not only that Veteran, but our reputation as a preferred employer. Together we make a difference. And that is something we can all be thankful for.

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Smoker vs. Non- Smoker

I was a smoker for most of my 20 years in the U.S. Army. I frequently sat at the bar area of Applebee’s, chose seats at the rear of airplanes and made many choices to be able to have the right to smoke anywhere I wanted.

As time progressed, society began to kick smokers out of the team rooms, restaurants, hospitals, malls and now just about everywhere. I was reduced to standing by a kitchen window in the dead of winter blowing smoke out of the window or going out to the back porch, fully bundled up. I recall one winter in Ohio when I ran an extension cord to the little shed out back and used a heater to prepare a space just for my smoking.

I recall my father smoked, as did my step-father, my uncles and well, everyone nearly. Kids sat in cars with the windows up, choking on second hand smoke. I always hated smokers. It was a nasty habit; I would not dump my ashes in my car, and always opened a window. I used mints often to “mask” the smell. I became an expert on appearing to be a non-smoker, and to not smell like an ashtray.

Then I quit – yes, I tried several times and I finally did. I was pleased with myself, as it was the first time I realized how controlling cigarettes are. I had adapted my entire life to it. As time went by, I began to be repulsed by my car, my closet, and my clothes. I had to de-fume everything, a lot of throwing away. It was everywhere. One day I came in to work and asked our receptionist if she had noticed I had stopped smoking. She stated, “Oh yeah, I no longer have to spray air freshener every time you come in the door and get back into your office.” I was shocked! I was even more shocked when we started interviewing candidates and I could “smell” them the second they entered the door to our building. I was now on the other side of smokers, but even worse, I was now an “ex” smoker.

While I have compassion for smokers in knowing it is an addicting habit, I now stay as far away as possible from it. No smoke breaks, no smoking sections, no hanging around even the smell of it. I am not a non-smoker, but as an ex-smoker I can tell you it is a challenging thing to get past once you stop.

With that said, it is my belief, whether conscious or not, smokers are discriminated against. It is something that cannot be covered up, cannot be minimized, nor can be ignored. If you are employed and enjoy your group, fine, but if you care to progress, care to get hired at a new position or company in a new circle, you are holding yourself back by smoking. This is America and we are free to do so, but my career advice to any professional, is to never smoke again. Even our President has struggled with this, but is well aware of the harm smoking causes and the examples to avoid.

So this Great American Smoke out day, I celebrate 8 Years smoke free!! I urge you to STOP TODAY!

Resources: – Curious how much money you can save by quitting? My stats since my “Quit Day” are below.

American Cancer Society – Learn more about the negative effects of smoking, and find resources to help you quit.

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VA Careers earns Platinum distinction at Healthcare Internet Conference

Our goal at VA Careers is to recruit exceptional health care professionals and support staff to ensure that our Nation’s Veterans receive the absolute highest quality care. This mission to hire the best is the driving force of everything we do—and one of the more visible aspects of that mission is our website,

We are proud to announce our recent recognition as a Platinum award winner for “Best Employee Recruitment Site – Healthcare System” at the 17th Annual Healthcare Internet Conference. This year, VA was selected out of over 1,100 entries from the digital healthcare space by a panel of over 121 expert judges.

About the competition, eHealthcare Leadership Awards chairman Mark Gothberg explains, “Organizations made major improvements in their websites, increased their involvement in social media, more fully integrated newer media outlets with traditional marketing vehicles, and expanded mobile efforts to better serve current and future customers.”

We want to be a place where all interested candidates can access useful information to inform their career decisions. We need the site to work as an easy-to-navigate, efficient portal for applying to jobs at VA. To that end, we have made updates to enhance visual interest, showcase employee stories, and remove unnecessary content in order to improve navigation so that the site both looks good, and works well.

Most significant to the new VA Careers site is the responsive way in which it is programmed – you’ll have a good experience whether you access the site on your phone, your tablet, or your desktop.

For us, the award is validation that we are doing things right in our efforts to serve you and by extension, our Nation’s Veterans. With the national spotlight on health care and a rapidly evolving digital landscape, we recognize that the competition for patients, technology, and talent is as high as it has ever been. We are proud to have risen above the competition and look forward to continued advancements and growth as we pursue our mission.

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Proactive vs. Reactive


There are several great books about leadership, success and how to be a winner. Most people have probably heard of the 7 Steps of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey. While I love the entire book and all of the steps, Step 1 is what I am talking about today; Be Proactive.

Life is about choices. Good choices bring good consequences, while bad choices bring bad consequences. This is a simple fact that most of us were taught as children, and that we hope to instill in our own children. Some may disagree with this point, but to me, it is a simple fact. Consider the following examples:


After spending anywhere from 2-30 years in the military where I have a great time and do great things and/or get hurt, I think about looking for a job (once rested up & healed up).

  • Step 1- Build a resume.

John Doe| Army – 1993-2013|Infantry|Education: HS Diploma, 58 College credit hours.

  • Step 2- Apply to a million Jobs
  • Step 3- Get discouraged
  • Step 4- Be Reactive to bills, food, health, joy, fun, spouse, kids, etc…


After spending anywhere from 2-30 years in the military, where I have a great time and do great things and/or get hurt, I start my new job (once rested up & healed up).

  • Step 1- Complete degree, Licensure, certification and education, distance learning, online college, or traditional campuses if available using Tuition Assistance and Military Discounts and Scholarships.
  • Step 2- Network, build resume and update skills as one dedicated as a lifelong learner.

John Raymond Doe, PMP| US Army- Senior Operations Manager Managed 8 entry and mid- career professionals to achieve goals set that resulted in zero at fault loss to staff or property. 1993-2013|Education: Bachelors of Science, Business Management, Summa cum Laude.

  • Step 3- Provide resumes to professional contacts and connections, execute 5 rehearsed Interviews with references demonstrating advantages to company by hiring me over the next guy. 
  • Step 4- Start Job, pay bills, attend doctor visits as needed, feel fulfilled, enjoy healthy relationships, and then pay it forward to the next Veteran.

As you can see from the examples listed above- Reactive is the result of “Choices” the same way Proactive is the result of “Choices.” The good news is that one can change behavior at any time to stop being reactive and Be Proactive.

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#ThankItForward Veterans Day…and Every Day

As mentioned at the end of yesterday’s post, we are so excited about VA’s upcoming #ThankItForward Veterans Day campaign.

Starting today, we want our #ThankItForward to inspire people all across the country to show their appreciation for Veterans on Facebook and Twitter. We’ll kick things off by thanking Veterans and asking everyone to recognize the special Veteran(s) in their lives using the hashtags #ThankItForward and #VeteransDay. They can even add their own custom hashtag (i.e., #UncleSiRocks) to personalize their message.

Many of our VA health care professionals will thank their own patients for their service, dedication and perseverance—then #ThankItForward by sending their messages to others. Now here’s the cool part: As all of our messages build on each other, we’ll be co-creating a giant, awesome hashtag word cloud image for all Veterans to see, so that they feel our thanks in a highly visible way both on our website and in our facilities.

#ThankItForward is going to be a great way to express our gratitude for those who have served our country—not just on Veterans Day, but every day throughout the year.

We’re really looking forward to seeing this campaign in action—but we’ll need your participation, so get out there and #ThankItForward!

Veterans Day is a great time to follow your calling to work at VA, whether it’s now or in the future.

Visit now and learn more about positions open today.

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