Secretary Robert Wilkie delivers State of VA message to employees



Hello. I recently testified before Congress about our vision for Veterans. I wanted to take a few minutes to share that vision with you, about the state of our VA.

The turmoil of the first half of 2018 is now in the rear-view mirror. And I’m happy to report, the state of our VA is better. It’s better because of the support of the President, Congress, and an unprecedented series of legislative actions to reform VA and improve care and benefits for Veterans.

And it’s better because of you, good people dedicated to caring for Veterans, their families, their caregivers, and their survivors.

It’s been my privilege to meet and hear from many of you at national cemeteries, claims processing centers, and VA hospitals from Boston to Las Vegas. You’re tackling tough issues, implementing Appeals Modernization as you reduce wait times for Veterans with pending appeals, implementing the MISSION Act to give Veterans more choice in health care decisions, adopting the same electronic health record as DoD to give Veterans a seamless transfer of medical information once they leave the service, and improving transparency, increasing accountability, and protecting whistleblowers.

You’re on the cutting edge of medical care in rehabilitative services. You’re out-performing the private sector in terms of quality of care and patient safety. You’ve been working around the clock to serve and protect our Veterans across the Carolinas during this time of great need, providing foundational emergency response for our government. As a Carolinian, I thank you on behalf of my family and friends.

I’ve seen wonderful examples of your accomplishments that deserve so much more attention than they get. And I cannot begin to tell you how proud I am to be part of your team.

And Veterans and their needs are changing, faster than we realize. For the first time in four decades, half of our twenty million Veterans are now under the age of 65. They’re computer savvy and demand 21st-century service that’s easy to access, efficiently delivered, and available where needed. Ten percent are women. By 2040, about 16 percent will be women. Since 2000, the number of women Veterans receiving VA health care has tripled.

All of which is to say, we’re on the cusp of the most important era in the history of the Department, transformation not seen since World War II when General Omar Bradley headed the Veterans Administration.

It’s not business as usual. Veterans’ futures are in our hands. There are no more excuses.

So our first priority is customer service. That’s the prime directive. When Veterans come to VA, it is not up to them to get us to say yes. It’s up to us, you and me, to get Veterans to yes. That’s customer service. We’re going to make sure you’re trained and equipped to achieve that.

Our second priority, implementing the MISSION Act, will fundamentally transform VA health care. It will consolidate community care into a single program that’s easier for Veterans, families, community providers, and all of you to navigate. The MISSION Act also expands our family caregivers program to provide much-needed assistance to the people caring for some of our most needy Veterans day in and day out.

Our third priority is replacing our aging electronic health record. The new electronic health record will modernize our appointment system, automate our disability and payment claims systems, and connect VA to the Department of Defense, private health-care providers, and private pharmacies. Implementing the electronic health record will be an ongoing, iterative process to build a continuum of care that’s organized around Veterans’ needs.

Our fourth priority is transforming our business systems. We’re modernizing human resource management, finance and acquisition, and our supply chain. It’s about giving you more leeway to manage budgets, recruit, retain, and relocate staff you need to serve Veterans. It’s also about more robust partnerships with state and local communities to address challenges like Veteran homelessness and suicide prevention.

And we’ll keep making progress on other important issues like expanding services and sites of care for women Veterans so every Veteran across the country can choose to get her primary care at VA, filling our ranks in all areas, and providing more health care appointments than ever before.

Customer service.

The MISSION Act.

Electronic Health Record modernization.

Business Transformation.

Our VA is giving Veterans better access to care and benefits—a VA Veterans choose because we offer world-class customer service across our operations.

Veterans’ future is in our hands, and you’ve shown time and again it’s well-placed.

Thank you, and God bless all of you and your families. And God bless America’s Veterans.

Author

Robert Wilkie

The Honorable Robert L. Wilkie was sworn in to serve as Secretary of Veterans Affairs on July 30, 2018. He also served as the Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs from March 28, 2018 to May 29, 2018.

Before confirmation as VA Secretary, Mr. Wilkie served Secretary James Mattis as his Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness—the principal advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense for Total Force Management as it relates to readiness, National Guard and Reserve component affairs, health affairs, training, and personnel requirements and management, including equal opportunity, morale, welfare, recreation, and the quality of life for military families.

Comments

  1. Christopher James Beachem    

    The appeal management center has been working on my rating since at least June. To clarify they have been working on it since at least June. Everytime I call they tell me oh they are working on attorney fees. This is ridiculous!

  2. Darin S    

    Do think it’s honest to use tax$ to run a Va website (access to care) that is grossly inaccurate? It continues to tell Veterans that it takes 5 days for a follow up or intital appointment at any given VA facility, yet the real wait is more like 5 weeks. This FALSE data is being used by the VA and VSO’s to lie or mislead Veterans, Our legislators , and the American people. It is wide spread. For BH the website says it’s 3 days, yet when I call I am told it’s 9 weeks before the available appointment.

    I feel like the VA is Intentionally hiding the facts.
    Will you ever consider doing a townhall that isn’t censored by your staff (esp the Moderator). I was very disappointed to watch what he did with my question that reached him and your panel during the wasted effort on the 27 Sept. From my foxhole I saw the head shed patting each other on the Back for programs that are being falsely represented. I urge someone from your office to contact me, but I won’t hold my breath.

  3. John C Wolf    

    I have been treated by VA Mental Health and by the Teal team in Jacksonville, FL for 8 years. They are fantastic, but I can’t say that about VA Compensation & Pension.

    I filed for compensation for my PTSD and was turned down. I was a combat infantryman in Vietnam and experienced a lot of trauma, but C&P has denied me my rightful compensation because they said I never had any trauma in my military service. I have a shirt with the names of 84 men that were killed in my company embroidered on the back and a Combat Infantry Badge on the front left chest level.

    I guess C&P thinks VA Mental Health are idiots, I can’t believe that C&P doesn’t believe in VA Mental Health team? One of my traumas was seeing the last Chaplain to be killed in combat in Vietnam, he and 10 other guys were ambushed and killed Easter Sunday, April 11, 1971.

    I got help to appeal my Notice of Denial by the Jacksonville Veterans Service Office in 2016 and 900 days later I still don’t have a decision. When I call the C&P office that handles my appeal they proudly say the review time has dropped to 167 days, but not for me? I have suicidal thoughts every day, but now I am committed to helping other Vets that are getting the same treatment I am so they don’t commit suicide. I am working on a documentary about my case that is also about the 35+ Vets a day that commit suicide.

    Again, I am treated fantastically by VA Health, but C&P are disgusting liars. They even lied to my Congressman, John Rutherford about the fact I never experienced any military related trauma. I have witnesses and combat footage that I turned into a video that is a Tribute to Chaplain Merle Brown and the others that were killed right in front of me. I am given 4 prescription meds for my PTSD.

  4. PAULRICHARDMCGRATH    

    Still amazing! All of us, not JUST Vets, are swindled every day by all responsible agencies … mainly the US Congress. Beware congressional impersonators… they don’t even need to pick of the phone or allow your voice be heard without being filtered through the media.
    OH! FLASH NEWS REPORT, another politico bites the dust…. not the important ones, only the non-popular and poor. Amazing.

  5. JUDITH OVERHOLT    

    Good Morning Sir,

    I have a few questions that seem to be forgotten after I ask each Secretary of the VA

    1. Why do the VA clinics still stack patients? Some 5 to each appointment

    2. When you are having to wait more than 30 days or like me I am classified as a “Geo-Burden due to the distance and my illness why is it the local Dr’s they send you too are the scariest people on earth? what I mean by this is they really have no patient base and when you see them they are extremely unknowledgeable?

    3. Why do they dole out numerous drugs? some people fool there PC and Mental health Dr’s so they can get drugs in great quantities to sell on the streets

  6. Wilford Britt Stevens    

    This is all wonderful for Veterans privileged enough to be in the the United States, But what about the hundreds of thousands that live outside the US? We have a Veterans out patient clinic in Manila, RP. Congress appropriated the money to heal All Veterans of Hepatitis C.The only condition was that the Veteran had to be in the VA System. I have been in the VA system for forty years. I have been denied this treatment along with countless others, here in the Philippines. So, apparently we are no longer considered Veterans because our disabilities forced us to live in Third World Nations. I would truly love to hear an eloquent speach about us, the Forgotten Veterans.
    Sincerely and respectfully submitted.
    Wilford Britt Stevens

Comments are closed.