VA’s Under Secretary for Benefits focuses on Veteran success in first 100 days


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In reflecting on his first 100 days, Veterans Affairs Under Secretary for Benefits, Paul R. Lawrence, Ph.D., focused on the VBA mission and what it means to Veterans.

“When you think about success, we’re the ones that help you get there,” he said.

“I have come to appreciate that the totality of what we do at VBA helps Veterans realize the American Dream. This is a profound responsibility,” he said. “If we think back to WWII, the vision was: you go off to combat, do your service, come back, get a job and settle down. As the world has changed, everything has gotten more complex, and Veterans are faced with more choices than ever before. At VBA, we help Veterans navigate post-service life and realize the American Dream.”

Picture of USB at Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall

Under Secretary for Benefits, Paul R. Lawrence, Ph.D., meets with Veterans and family members at the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Lawrence, an Army Veteran, believes that one of the keys to understanding Veteran issues is in building relationships with Veteran Service Organizations as well as state and county Veteran representatives.

One of  Lawrence’s first priorities was to expand collaboration activities with VSOs to ensure that everyone in the Veteran service community is working together toward common goals. “I’ve met with traditional VSOs, post-9/11 Veterans groups, state and county VSOs, to discuss new ways we can work together to take care of our Veterans,” Lawrence said. “We are better together. I want to find new ways to work with these groups to ensure we have their insight as we move forward on initiatives to serve Veterans.”

These growing relationships with the Veteran service community helped guide his priorities for VBA. Lawrence established a framework of three priorities to help focus VBA initiatives:

* Provide Veterans with the benefits they have earned in a manner that honors their service

* Ensure we are strong fiscal stewards of the money entrusted to us, and

* Fostering a culture of collaboration.

There are a number of initiatives underway to meet these objectives. While this list isn’t all-inclusive, it demonstrates that VBA is focusing on the important work that needs to be done.

The Office of Transition and Economic Development (TED) has been established to improve military-to-civilian transition outcomes and bring greater focus to programs which position Veterans for economic success. TED will help transitioning Servicemembers, as well as older Veterans whose careers have changed over time and who may need help enhancing or refining their skills. Additional Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors are being hired to focus more resources on assisting Veterans. The VBA organizational structure has been realigned to streamline processes and increase focus on fraud, waste and abuse risk and improper payments.

Enhancing relationships with VSO groups is the cornerstone of fostering a culture of collaboration. “To better understand and meet the needs of Veterans, I plan to do more small group meetings to focus on the issues. Younger Veterans often have different needs than older Veterans. By meeting with VSO groups that have common issues and concerns, we can focus in on those needs and find solutions. This leads to a deeper and richer conversation.”

“We understand the important role VBA has in helping Veterans be successful,” Lawrence said. “They have made sacrifices for your country and we owe them nothing less than our dedicated service to help them achieve the American Dream.”

Author

Donna Stratford

Donna is a public affairs specialist in Veterans Benefits Administration Corporate Communications. She spent most of her career in government public affairs and communications. She recently completed Rating Veterans Service Representative training. Donna is an Air Force Veteran and retired from the Air Force Reserve.

Comments

  1. Angela    

    Dr. Paul Lawrence, appreciate your positive words towards advancing the good of the human condition of all to include veterans and employees.
    Best. Angela

  2. Eddie Cox    

    Really need help with medication costs. When I started at the VA and registered for my benefits earned in the Vietnam era, I had a good paying job. But now after two heart attacks and diabetes paying the co-pay is a real hardship. Is there anyway to stop the copay?

  3. Lester Leroy Hanlon Jr    

    If the esteemed Dr Lawrence wants collaborative outcomes why doesn’t the VA except the findings,like in the past of NIH now NAM of the most recent reports of an ”Association of Bladder Cancer as presumptive to herbicide exposure.Why 2 more years. Delay

  4. Mark Voegele    

    I like what the VA is trying to, but it still leaces VietNam Vets out in the cold and pushed to the back of the bus again.
    There is always talk about helping us but nothing ever gets done. The new RAMP program is set in place for a 125 day decision period but I signed up in Feb. And haven’t heard a thing. I have had my clain in for 8 yrs. and all I ever get is they can’t confirm what I submitted, as if everything is on file. We all know things were covered up, not reported or just over looked. We also know that the VBA thinks that we will give up or stretch it out till we die, common knowledge and beliefs. This is how we were treated when we came home and some things don’t change !
    I would like the same respect fron the VA that everyone gets, it would be nice for a change.

  5. Vishnu Lochan    

    I would like to test a theory which separates VA Employee Pay from Veterans Compensation Pay. I predict that the flow of currency with a more directive assertion from the Treasury will help Service Members recognize their own and VA employees the ability to do the same. It will certainly help with verification of claims and will also cut back on wait time due to the conformity of Service Members and their fellow Service Members with military injuries into Veteran Benefits status.
    I would also like to test the hypothesis that Veterans language from Service is hard to understand. Simply because many Service Members get called into action as soon as they leave high school and don’t have the chance at higher education like their civilian peers that would eventually become the data verification of claims. Also; trusting the plain language of the Code and reading with veterans what criteria inscribed truly means. Trusting in Congressional Writers of the Code is of high importance; not being Represented by the Elect for determinations of claims.

  6. Michelle S.    

    100 days of nothing. Another getting paid to do nothing.

  7. Ahmad Rasheed    

    Iam a Vietnam veteran I’ve been trying too get VA benefits for the longest my appeal is at the regional office in St Petersburg Florida I am in the preparation for decision stage however Whenever I Call eBenefits VA toll free number I’m not able to get any information concerning my VA claim it has been in for the longest I am with the ramp program and has been ever since April 13th of 2018 whenever I need help I’m not able to get it I call the DAV phone for updates and they’ll be never be no response to my request how long does it take for this process to go through it been in the decision phase for the longest and whenever I call there’s no response whatever I call the DAV who is my representative at the regional office there will be no return calls and no respond if there anyone that can assist me in this matter I really appreciate your attention thank you very much

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