Secretary Bob McDonald continues his open dialogue with Veterans as he travels to Memphis today. While the trip is anchored by an address to Veterans at the AMVETS National Convention, McDonald will also visit several VA facilities including the Memphis VA Medical Center, a local Vet Center and the National Cemetery.
It’s all part of his ongoing efforts to learn as much as possible about the diverse issues facing Veterans and how the Department can better meet their needs. To that end, McDonald has instructed all VAMC directors to hold town-hall meetings by the end of September in order to get a clear picture of what is right, and what is wrong – focusing heavily on VA’s medical centers that serve a large number of Veterans.
“Coming face-to-face with reality isn’t a disaster,” he said to Veterans at the DAV National Convention last week. “I want to hear your stories. I want to know when we’re not serving you well.”
At the Phoenix VA Medical Center during his first trip as secretary, McDonald spoke with as many Veterans and employees as he could – often straying away from his planned tour to talk with Vets in waiting rooms. One Veteran in particular, waited patiently to tell McDonald about his positive VA experience and the care he received in Phoenix.
“The Phoenix story is about more than just a crisis in Veterans’ access,” the secretary said. “To be sure it’s a story of failed leadership, but it’s also a story of dedicated people, who have had the moral courage to stand up, and help serve us Veterans better.”
As he travels to meet with employees and Veterans, McDonald is emphasizing the importance of embracing VA’s core values: Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect and Excellence, known as I CARE. He said VA and its employees could never go wrong if they sincerely adopted these principles and viewed care and service through the eyes of Veterans.