15 Ways VA is improving the Veteran’s experience right now


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The Department of Veterans Affairs is committed to providing the best experiences in its delivery of care, benefits, and memorial services to Veterans, Servicemembers, their families, caregivers, and survivors.

VA facilities across the country have been implementing new and innovative ways of providing the best possible experiences for our customers. These efforts often begin with suggestions from Veterans, Community Veterans Engagement Boards, VA employees, and Veteran Advisory Councils. See an idea you like? Tell your local facility about it!

1. Red Coats-The Red Coat Ambassador program trains VA volunteers and employees to greet and deliver excellent customer service while assisting Veterans as they visit VA sites.

Jesse Brown Chicago VA red coat ambassador staff training

Denisse Montoya, Voluntary Service Specialist at the Jesse Brown VA in Chicago explains some of the Red Coat Ambassador Program details to new Ambassadors Casey Hills, Cicero Moore and Arturo Garza-Acosta. (Photo by Lela Vance-Glover)

VA now reminds Veterans of their appointments by text.

VEText is a secure messaging system designed to send cell text reminders to VA patients.

2. VEText– VA now reminds Veterans of their appointments by text. Veterans can reply and cancel or confirm appointments in the same message thread. As of May 2018, VEText has sent appointment reminders to more than five million unique Veterans with over 9 million messages exchanged. Also, the system has allowed 134,000 appointments to be cancelled via a simple response, creating an open slot for another Veteran and possibly preventing no-shows. VEText works for VA health care appointments only and the text messages do not currently replace the letters and automated phone calls Veterans already receive for appointment reminders.Veterans can update their personal information by going online to www.vets.gov, use VA facility kiosks or upon check-in to appointments.

3. Vet360-Veterans updating their personal information across several VA systems that were not initially built to “talk to each other” can easily be lost in a time-consuming maze. Vet360 is transforming the process to provide a seamless experience by consolidating VA’s data silos. Over time, Vet360 will be the one source of all common Veteran data. Saving time and resources for both Veterans and the VA.

4. Vets.gov-Migrating from several VA websites that all required different user names and passwords to one umbrella is www.vets.gov. Feedback from Veterans has driven the site design and new content and functionality are added week by week, a process of constant refinement and improvement. Vets.gov is easily accessible by mobile devices and simple to navigate and understand. Apply for health or education benefits, get career assistance or check your disability claim all in one place, www.vets.gov

www.vets.gov

Centralizing VA sites under one umbrella, www.vets.gov offers the full range of VA benefits and services.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. VA Welcome Kit-It can be overwhelming for a Veteran and their family to explore what VA can offer, the VA Welcome Kit can help guide Veterans to the benefits and services they’ve earned. Whether it’s time to go to school, get a job, buy a house, get health care, retire or make plans for care as they age, the VA Welcome Kit is a great summary of what VA can do for Veterans.

VA Welcome Kit

6. VA Online Scheduling-Veterans with a premium MyHealtheVet account or DS Logon can now schedule appointments online through www.myhealth.va.gov or using the VA Online Scheduling App for mobile phone. DS Logon Accounts are available for Servicemembers, Veterans and Caregivers. If you do not have a DS Logon, or you are not sure, you can register, verify or update your DS Logon Account at the DoD DS Logon Access Center. To find out more, watch the How to Get a DS Logon video to learn how to register for a Level 2 eBenefits/DS Logon account or access the DS Logon Education App.

VA patients can use MyHealtheVet or the VA online scheduling app to make appointments online.

VA patients can use MyHealtheVet or the VA online scheduling app to make appointments online.

7. Comfort Care Carts-Meet the Comfort Cart Crew. They stop by clinics and provide water, snacks and answer questions or concerns, sometimes on the spot. The program was created by South Texas VA customer service manager David Caudill, who recruits volunteers from the 4100 employees working at the South Texas VA.

Veteran receives items from comfort care cart at Texas VA

Air Force Veteran Art Foster, who is a California resident, comes to San Antonio every winter to stay with his daughter. He said he schedules most of his appointments for when he comes to Texas because he loves the care he receives at the Audie L. Murphy hospital. He took nurse Bonnie Haupt up on her offer of a healthy snack during rounds of the “Comfort Cart”. The cart is a new initiative started by South Texas VA Customer Service Manager David Caudill. (Photo: by Steve Goetsch)

8. Service Dogs-Not only is the VA working to be more service dog friendly, the VA is employing service dogs to comfort patients at sites of care. Hercules works at the James A. Haley VA in Tampa. Check out this video of Hercules in action with one of his favorite Veterans.

Hercules is a staff member at the Tampa VA in Florida.

Hercules is a staff member at the Tampa VA in Florida.

designated service dog area at the tampa va

Designated service dog areas give four-legged companions much needed space on VA campuses

10. Valet Parking-Several VA facilities offer valet to enhance the Veteran’s experience and save time for Veterans trying to park in congested areas.

Free valet parking started this year at the Fayetteville VA Health Care Center in North Carolina.

Free valet parking started this year at the Fayetteville VA Health Care Center in North Carolina.

11. Walking the Post (WECARE Rounding)-Purposeful rounding for VA leadership allows patients and employees to build relationships, verify consistency of care, gather feedback and follow up on opportunities for improvement. The Veterans Experience Office created a toolkit to make it easy for VA facilities to implement the program.

VA staff meet to discuss patient information during rounding.

VA staff meet to discuss patient information during rounding.

12. Keeping a full charge-Charging stations are becoming common in VA waiting areas so that Veterans and their families can stay connected.

Charging station at the Tampa VA.

Charging stations are placed in waiting areas at the Tampa VA.

13. Not Kidding Around-Child care services are not only convenient, but have the potential to open up clinic access for those who may turn down or not be able to attend a scheduled appointment because of family responsibilities.

Northport VA Healthcare daycare facility

Daycare services, like the one at Northport VA in New York, and kid-friendly waiting areas are being made available wherever possible at most VA locations.

14. Women Veterans-Women are the fastest growing Veteran population, yet females in VA sites of care are often mistaken as a Veteran’s spouse. VHA sites all now have dedicated space for women’s health care and have a campaign to raise awareness about women who have served.

The Veteran Women’s Health Center entrance located at the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania VA.

The Veteran Women’s Health Center entrance located at the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania VA.

15. Adaptive Sports-The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Veterans Sports Programs and Special Events (NVSP&SE) office provides
opportunities for health and healing through adaptive sports and therapeutic art programs. These specialized rehabilitation programs
aim to optimize Veterans independence, community engagement, well-being, and quality of life.

Pole vault event at the National Veterans Golden Age Games

The VA hosts several adaptive sports events for Veterans nationwide.

Know of a new customer experience effort not listed? Tell us about it in the comments.

Author

Beth Lamb

Beth Lamb has been a member of VA’s Veterans Experience Office since January 2017. She previously held Public Affairs positions for several Veterans Health Administration facilities and currently lives in Missouri with her family.

Comments

  1. Aleksandr Svidesskis    

    How can I sign up for vet text, welcome package, in short, I can use all this help I just read!

  2. Aleksandr Svidesskis    

    How can I sign up, for everything I just read, better, etc???

  3. Ruth Rice    

    These improvements are great but I see no program to improve the V.A. employee’s respect for veterans. The attitude of put-up, shut-up, ask no questions, do as you are told is prevalent. I took a civilian friend with me to a mammogram appointment at the Tucson V.A. My friend was appalled at the treatment I received when I asked questions.

    1. DENNIS A YOUNG    

      So many VA employees are affirmative action hired folks, they don’t have respect for anything. Most prior service folks have an understanding for fellow vets at least.

  4. David Sullivan    

    I looked for VEText Where is it?

  5. Robert P. Finn    

    You have not been to the VA in Portland,Or have you? After one year of complaining of my hip I am finally getting a MRI. Then since my DR. only works 1 and1/2 days a week, I have to wait two months to see him. If I am sent to see a Ortho Dr. it will be another 2-3 months. If I have surgery, it will be another 2-3 months to wait for a surgery unit. So, I’m looking at another 8-12 months of pain. Want to really help the Vets? SHUT the VA down!

  6. Joel snodgrass    

    I read these comments and my personal experiences with the VA has been awesome. it helps to remember it is medicine and sometimes it takes a few times to get things just right. I spent 2.5 years severally depressed and the VA absolutely saved my life. I always thank everyone and have a good attitude and I think that goes a long way. I had the best private healthcare insurance and never was treated better than I am at the San Diego VA and the Escondido clinic. Thank you Joel

  7. GARY EUGENE KENNEDY    

    My case is extremely complex with many addendums. I am having a hard time puttting it together as it as been tried so many times with some wins some losses and and some cases that should have been won but were just egnored. I have even been the victim of an answer to a case without my being part. They say they mailed but I never received. I spent my entire life with pain and disability and have never been able to reach my full potential even though I tried hard. Now I am near the end and I still don’t feel that I have been treated fairly and for me it is very plain but VA doesn’t see it that way. A wasted life to them isn’t anything. I have written for many other veterans with great success but there are so many addendums to mine I seem to stumble and fall. I am a 100% PT yet I feel that should have gone back a long time ago. There are still some dinosaurs working for the VA. I would like my case put together in a meaningful order and to have a logical conclusion to the events in the order in which they should have fallen with the correct % and a retro allowance given to me to be able to close the door perhaps with a short time happy ending.

  8. James Hart    

    The Asheville VA has top quality and is rated at the top. The problem is Vets from over 100miles come there because of the great service and parking was not designed for all of us.

Comments are closed.