The next mission: Meeting the needs of the newest generation of Veterans


VA Secretary Bob McDonald joined Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to discuss how their generation is defining itself. Hosted by the Washington Post, The Next Mission brought Veterans together to share their stories about the perception and portrayal of Veterans and the challenges this generation of Veterans face as it tries to define itself.

Throughout his time at VA, Secretary McDonald has focused on the MyVA transformation process to improve VA’s relationship with Veterans, including the Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. This newer generation of Veterans has different needs and concerns than the older generation of Veterans, and it’s VA’s goal to make sure we’re reaching all Veterans where they are. To better do so, McDonald has encouraged VA employees to train in human-centered design, a process that tailors new solutions designed to meet Veterans needs.

“We created archetypes of the different Veterans that we serve so that we would understand the difference between the Iraq Veteran and the World War II Veteran. And then we said we’ve got to design our programs to meet the need of every Veteran. We’ve got to be where they want to be, the way they want us to be there, when they want us to be there,” said McDonald.

One part of reaching that demographic was making digital services available, to include mobile apps that provide resources for Veterans and alternatives to paper-based healthcare enrollment and claims. Another key part of reaching this demographic was getting the younger Veterans service organizations to the table, such as Team Rubicon, Team Red, White & Blue and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. VA reached out and worked with these groups to better understand what their needs are, then built those needs in.  One example that is being implemented is the need for VA to update their facilities to accommodate for the growing number of women Veterans.

As the Veteran population continues to change, VA will have to adapt and change with it.

“We’re going to celebrate Veterans Day tomorrow, and it will be terrific. And beyond Veteran’s Day we are going to deliver the absolute best service for Veterans. Because our vision is to be the number one customer service organization in the federal government, and I think we can get there,” said McDonald.

Watch full interview online here.


Melissa Heintz

Melissa Heintz joined the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2015 and currently works as the National Veterans Day Coordinator, National Veterans Outreach. 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 Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. In December 2015, Melissa commissioned in the Air National Guard where she serves as a public affairs officer with the 113th Wing, D.C. Air National Guard.


  1. Joe Lawrence Trevino    

    To: V.A. Secretary Bob McDonald
    I AM A VIETERAN THAT HAS 100% Disability suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. I need help to get into the Veteran Treatment Courts Program. I have criminal case DWI 3rd felony pending. I had put and application for the Veteran Court and I was not accepted to the Veteran court. I struggle with substance abuse. I ask for help to stay sober and successfully and productively integrate into my best to live a civilian life with myself my wife and my family as well as others (People). Could you please call me Sir or have someone to help me with this matter. My name Joe Trevino I live in Austin, Texas. Thank you so much for your help. God Bless you.

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