MyVA Communities a step forward in improving VA’s relationship with Veterans


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The cornerstone of the MyVA transformation is improving VA’s relationship with Veterans. A central piece to Secretary Bob McDonald’s MyVa initiative is a commitment to locally-led, community-driven, MyVA Communities.

The inspiration for the MyVA Communities movement is San Diego’s One VA Community Advocacy Board. Established more than 20 years ago, the board asked local VA administrators to join and regularly meet with a group of Veterans and community organizations to discuss local issues.  Now it serves as the model for local communities to create boards across the nation.  More than 80 local boards are now a part of the MyVA Communities network.

If Veterans are lost in navigating the disability compensation claims process, struggle to make an appointment at a local facility, or need help to find services provided by community organizations, they can get their questions and concerns heard through local Community Veterans Engagement Boards (CVEB) public forums. These forums and other CVEB meetings are a great place for Veterans to voice questions and work together with leaders to resolve local problems. They create trusted relationships between Veterans and the community leaders who serve them.

 

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The Alabama CVEB, MyVA Operation Entrust, provides a great example for how this relationship can work directly to meet the Veteran’s needs and come up with a local solution. At a public forum in Birmingham, Alabama, a visually impaired elderly Veteran expressed concern around not being able to vote in private by means of accommodation. The CVEB worked with one of their board members, a local County Commissioner and Birmingham VA’s Blind Rehab Program to ensure visually impaired Veterans were aware of multiple accommodations to allow private voting.

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In September, VA CVEBs from around the country, including San Diego, came to VA’s central office in Washington, D.C. They participated in the first MyVA Communities E-Summit, a virtual community networking forum, to share with others around the country the best ways to establish CVEBs and relationships with local VA leaders. San Diego co-chair, Ron Stark, a Navy Veteran, said CVEBs provide important outlets for Veterans to meet the local community, administrators and service providers to get answers to their questions or express their concerns directly to those that can make a difference. Co-chair, John Meyer, emphasized VA’s active participation helps keep the goal of service delivery and Veteran engagement at the forefront of VA’s work.

Their sentiments echo Secretary McDonald’s vision for spreading the CVEB model throughout the country, “A vital part of VA transformation is better working with strategic partners and that’s exactly what MyVA Communities help us do, bring together local community leaders that want to help VA improve and provide services to Veterans.”

The ultimate goal is for CVEBs to contribute to improving the Veteran experience, regardless of how a community chooses to organize or establish their board. That was exactly the goal of the E-Summit, to help others feel empowered to engage with their own communities and learn how they can adopt their own model. The E-summit provided numerous stories and examples of how these collaborations and partnerships are making the lives of Veterans in their community better every day.


erin-mullallyErin Mullally is a Class of 2016 Presidential Management Fellow at the Department of Veterans Affairs. She graduated with a Master of Public Policy degree from the McCourt School of Public Public Policy at Georgetown University where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the Georgetown Public Policy Review. Prior to graduate school, she spent three years working for the City of Kansas City, Missouri, serving as a communications and public affairs aide to Mayor Sylvester “Sly” James, Jr.

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Comments

  1. THOMAS SHIFFLETT    

    THX Mark 4 your reply. I think my roommate will be able to get his 70% back. I called the V/A, and explained the situation to them, and they said all he has to do upon discharge from jail is get another evaluation. Remind you that the only reason he was reduced was because he missed his appointment due to being locked up for pettiness. 🙂

  2. Danielle    

    Oh – forgot one major thing–I got a hernia for picking my husband up -but – who was going to be his caregiver- so grit my teeth- said nothing- as I was not going to tell my husband such as that would have depressed him even more- and telling my children – what could they do ? Living over 200 miles from us- I did the best I could do with out any help- when my husband died it took me a while to get my head on straight -I had lost so much weight and could not keep even water down -thinking it was just nerves- went on for quite sometimes till this past January I went to doctor and he said – you have a strangulated hernia- you are a walking time bomb- well needless to say I had the surgery – – I then resumed my mission- no one knows my madness better than my children – my husband and I were going to redo that bathroom on our own because we could no longer wait for Va – we needed that shower put in – well – he had his stroke the day we were going to start- now it’s been 5 years – and I gutted that damn room – and I have been buying used wood and what have you were ever I can get it- and found 2 guys who would do it cheap as long as I had material- That bathroom is going to have a shower and be handicap assesible as well – it may not be perfect- and it may not be up to code- but I do what I have to do-

  3. Galen Turner    

    Why do a lot of veterans go to Long Beach va that live in the valley and will not go to Wla va

  4. Scott Bowen    

    Dennis Sherman hit it dead on. If the VA could clean up the incompetent beaurocat employees and let the medical staff do their jobs as they have been trained to do would be a giant step forward. After I received a bill for $13,500 for following the instructions given to me by VA medical staff I complained to the Non-VA care office they’re solution was to have all medical staff at the Iowa City VA go through a training session where they were told not to give advise based on “best medical recommendation” but rather on the cheapest or most cost effective practices and never to recommend a non-VA facility.

    The only issues I have had with the VA have always been with either the non-VA care office or non-medical staff – the paper pushers.

  5. James Tobleck    

    In my 40 year VA history the constant overruling of my civilan doctors, VA doctors ,in a sick rush for promotion, bonus money, by NOT treating me has profound negative impact to my physical health,family ,loss of jobs, homelessness. I WILL ISSUE nunerious freedom of information act requests detailing names who. profited .remember these people have killed people, made loved ones worse, all for there own greed. THE SHOW AMERICAN GREED SHOULD PROFILE DIRECTORS, STAFF AND WASHINGTON MGT.

  6. James Tobleck    

    The lack of patient advocates in west Michigan is pathetic. I am constantly forced to fight the B.C. dictaters wrong desisions about my health. Falure to treat copd, my blindnes’s knee replacement, bleeding grd ,dental plan canceled !! I demand a ombudsman, or VA IG investigation of malpeasance, deliberately making me undergo two separate.anesthesia instead of just once to find polyps / blood source. Now I feAR dictator will mess with my disability rate just to make me go bankrupt! The most frightening thing is blindness that isn’t being treated,or more teeth falling out.

  7. Jeff White    

    I see a nuerologist for botox shots for migrains. During my first visit to the V.A. hospital to be eexamined by this doctor, I stated that I am a Gulf War veteran. The doctor replied, “golf ball what?” I just stared at the physician. It is very difficult to understand the English spoken by this individual. Moreover, this doctor admitted to not really knowing military terminology and what some terms mean. Perhaps V.A. doctors should learn certain definitions, if he or she decides to care for veterans. The understanding gap, is huge. I want to stress however, that this doctor is very kind and compassionate. This comment in no way reflects the great care the doctor provided. Thank you. I remained vague on purpose. No need to offend here.

  8. John dunning    

    Yes he can if his disability happened while in the service
    And his service medical records prove this. Good luck

  9. Danielle    

    I have jumped more hoops and what have you since 2005when my husband was in an accident a Viet nam vet- that left him a partial paralique from waist down – it was pure hell! To begin with our insurance was exhausted – living on fixed income – they refused to pay anything- he finally get in and the doctor finds out I’m washing and sterilizing his cathaters as we could not afford even those- he pays the 30% of his needs- we continue to pay off the medical bills at other hospital and rehab center- his kids build him parallel bars so he could continue with rehab – I go to va center in Minneapolis with him and demand that they send him in for more therapy -they order it and I end up paying for it –his one leg brace breaks – goes back to va measured and all for new brace – waited 6 months for it- he inturn takes duck tape and now duck taping his leg to old brace- then husband goes into deep depression- I again demand help- nothing- they ask him what seems to be the problem???he looks at them and says living !- we go home nothing accomplished- but we continue at home with his therapy- I’m his therapist ,as we cannot afford more payments with therapy- everyday he and I work his legs, and body- I have to help him in and out of the bathtub – now mind you my husband weigh 198 # and I’m only 115 # I bought gate belts to help me get him in and out-we had 2 minor accidents – I broke my ribs trying to get him out of tub-slipped and fell on the edge of the tub- go to my doctor and he says we have to tape you up- I don’t tell him how I fell other wise I would have gotten the 5degree from him- the second time it happens I don’t even go to doctor – I just tape myself up and go from there- what my husband ask the VA for now is a shower – redo bathroom- papers are all done –never heard anything about it – he asked – they say can’t find paper work- again paper work- the bathroom is still waiting – we live in a trailer home and out in country – I have to clean drive way which would take me quite sometimes can’t afford a plow – the snowblower does not work as can’t afford to get it fix as paying off all his medical bills from st. Mary’s in Duluth and MillerDawn the rehab center he was in hospital and miller dawn for a total of 3 months – we paid the local hospital completely off and the flight for life off and the rehab center in Aitkin that va was suppose to pay for- he needs special shoes we go to town and order them as Va lost one Oder-and he’s still waiting for brace -from va- we were sending st Mary hospital 300 every month and the doctors each 100 and miller dawn 100 –and he never missed a payment for any of his bills and there were many and he still paid his so called share that he had to pay the VA which I am sure was 30.00 – Yes he got his pills- and yes he was now getting catheters and that I’m happy about- as I became a women on a mission with the bleach – I would buy that at family dollar store by the case – the bathroom was wiped down with that stuff every day and I would make sure his cathaters were sterilized – I would check his protein level and all making sure he had no virus of any kind- as when he was in miller dawn they sent him home on a fur low and he had a staph infection and I called them up right away and they said bring him back up here right away – the doctor was livid with staff for letting him go home with such – and this had happened there at miller dawn -thank God- but before they let him come home Miller Dawn gave me a crash course on how to take care of a paraplique – how to insert cathaters and how to basically take care of him from top to bottom – we lived like this until September 2011 – he had a stroke, and never came out of it- he was airlifted to Duluth mn as it was the closes – va is farther-this happened on a wed morning and because the VA would not release any information on him be it medical or otherwise to medical personal in Duluth Because of hepa law – I was not going to have the adult children do my job- this was their father – I had 3 scan done on him – it’s not like in the movies- they diewhen the plug is pulled right away – he lived for 23minutes and 17 seconds after the disconnection – it was on Friday in afternoon when he went to meet his maker- no thanks to the va – the bills of course were all mine! They did not pay a red cent! This women called me from the Minneapolis va and asked me why did I not take him there and I asked her just what is an emergency – lady he’s dead! She hung up-
    Do I harbor bad feelings for VA ??????you bet I do I never did get that bathroom- I never did get the ramp- my kids put that up for him they never paid for the hospital bills this time around I did and then contacted lawyer and he told me – he is now dead – you can not afford to pay another red cent to Duluth or miller dawn – his pair of crutches were delivered the day he died he had been waiting for them for 2 months again he used duck tape like he did on the brace- the VA owes me big time – but– such is life- yes they are waiting for all the Nam Vets to die- then they can relax- amazing the goverment can put a uniform on you but they can’t take care of their vets- but my husband volunteered was in Marine corp for 4 years – thank you for letting me rant- sempi fi

  10. Ed White    

    Really? So if it’s such a wonderful program then why is the closest contact 4 1/2 hours away and why is this the first I’ve heard of it? I’ve been actively involved with veterans issues for over 3 years. Another fine example of VA polishing the turd. I have an idea. Take the money for these useless “outreach programs” and spend it on hiring medical staff. While thinking up stuff to do, how about thinking how to improve customer service with “front-desk” staff…you know, the people we have to be abused by before getting to the actual medical stuff. Outreaching is what you do when you’re looking for something to do. Seems to me the VA has enough to do without trying to find new work.
    You want to improve? Try this…those folks that bust their butts everyday to take care of veterans….pay and promote them. Take the trash to the curb. Hire people that want to be there for the work, not just a secure paycheck.
    My wife and I have been abused, ignored and lied to and have seen it happen to others. We’re not just going to go away or die off. I for one intend to continue until somebody decides to listen.

    1. Dennis S. Sherman    

      I think Mr. Ed White may have hit the nail on the head. Instead of telling us how good it is going to be, just make it better.

  11. THOMAS SHIFFLETT    

    I have a question… my roommate is 70% disabled service connected. He missed an appointment for his evaluation due to being incarcerated for a probation violation. Now, the V/A has put his service connection to 30%. Can he get his 70% back once he goes to comp & pen? Please answer. THX 🙂

    1. Mark Ledesma    

      Hi Thomas,

      Unfortunately, I can’t give you a definitive yes or no answer without reviewing your roommate’s records or seeing the compensation and pension (C&P) exam results. The C&P exam evaluates his condition; however, the decision to increase, reduce, or keep his service connection percentage the same is determined by the claims processor.

      Is he working with a veteran service organization? If not, have him reach out to one to assist with his claim. Here’s a link explaining what they do: http://www.benefits.va.gov/VSO/

      I hope this answers your question. If not, please comment below.

      Regards,
      Mark

      1. Sherry Hight    

        I have requested a member of Secretary Mac Donald’s inner circle to visit the Roseburg, Oregon VA at least 3 times to visit with the Veterans’ in a clothed forum and we are still waiting with open arms. A lot of suggestions for improvement in what used to be a good VA. We fell ignored and it is a guessing game on treatment. A Director who infuriates Veterans’ because he does not care; it is only a paycheck.

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