Customer service THE prime directive for all VA employees

The way we treat Veterans today is the reason they will choose VA tomorrow

There has been big changes in the way Veterans and their families are welcomed at VA health care systems across the country.

Last year at the American Legion’s 100th National Convention, Secretary Wilkie pledged, “The VA is about serving veterans. Our responsibility is to serve you well and honorably. My prime directive is customer service.” In May of 2019, VA codified customer experience into its core values in VA’s Code of Federal Regulations.

Employees and volunteers have stepped up to make it easier for Veterans to navigate to their health care appointment. VA is shifting the culture to put Veterans and their families at the center of every process. VA’s Veterans Experience Office is supporting VA medical centers to deliver an excellent patient experience, every time.

VA facilities across the country have implemented several patient experience programs to ensure every employee is trained and focused on providing our Nation’s Heroes with the care they need in a consistently exceptional manner.

Two Red Coat Ambassadors stand ready by the main entrance of a VA hospital to welcome guests and help them get to where they need to be.

Two Red Coat Ambassadors stand ready by the main entrance of a VA hospital to welcome guests and help them get to where they need to be.                                                               

  • Red Coat Ambassadors: These ambassadors welcome Veterans and their families at medical center entrances with a friendly greeting and direct them to their destination
  • Own the Moment: This customer experience workshop encourages VA staff to connect with, understand, and help guide Veterans through the moments that matter on their VA journey
  • WE-CARE Rounding: Medical Center Leaders and Administrators make “rounds,” speaking directly with staff and visitors about the care and services they received
  • Standard Phone Greeting: Creates a uniform way to greet callers, letting them know in a clear, friendly way who they have reached

Recently, Steve Gabris from VA’s national Veterans Experience Office, spoke with WFXR News Kianna Price on Living Local in Salem, Virginia about what VA is doing nationally and at Salem VA Medical Center to improve the patient experience at VA health care systems.

In February 2019, hundreds of VA employees came together in Arlington, Virginia, to share how they are making the Veteran Experience better, and help shape the future of patient experience at the first annual VA Patient Experience Symposium. This was the first gathering of its kind at VA and demonstrates a significant milestone in the future of focus at VA.

Learn how you can become a Red Coat Ambassador by contacting your local VA hospital’s Voluntary Services Office. Find your local facility at .


Brett Robbins

Brett Robbins is an Army Veteran serving as a communications specialist detailed to Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Experience Office.


  1. Jim Clement    

    Another great idea from the VA that sounds good on paper, yet like so many others – – – most likely will not play out too well in the real world. Particularly when we have VA Mental Health Clinics such as North Central Federal Clinic that cancel appointments after the patient has already checked-in to the clinic.

    By the way, this is my third submission of a reply to your article. Were my first two a bit too critical of the Veterans Administration for the author’s or editors liking?

    Secretary Willkie is way out of his league with this pie in the sky dream. Want to really fix the VA, Mr. Secretary? Just give us the benefits the recruiter promised. And stop delaying decisions and adjudications such as you are doing to the Blue Water Navy Vets, and many other who served honorably, and have earned their benefits.

    Delay, Deny, Hope that we Die is more than a mantra. It is your Modus Operandi.

  2. Crazy Elf    

    This sure isn’t occurring down here at the Deltona, Florida VHA (small) Clinic.
    I could have DIED because of the incompetence of their ALLEGED healthcare professionals! I’ve actually, on my own, have been using an private sector healthcare system.
    What was written in this article, and told by Secretary Wilkie, is NOT occurring at my VHA facility.
    That facility is a joke!

  3. Michael Mercer    

    I visited the Bellevue, WA facility and I was impressed at how thorough they were. I didn’t like having to drive that far, however, I recently found a better location. It was my first visit to a VA facility, so I didn’t know what to expect. I would say it couldn’t have been much better. Thanks for asking, MSM.

  4. Dale A Parris    

    I just read your article and I’d have to say that I’ve used VA in Northern California and in New York ( New York City ) and in New Jersey ( Brick out patience and East Orange VA hospital ) and everyone is just great. I call the spinal cord unit at East Orange my 12 star Hotel. All the Doctors, Nurses and the rest of the staff just go out of there way for each and every Vet they take care of. And when I’ve been in other areas of the hospital I’ve still had great care.

  5. Tammy Harrison    

    I agree with it does look good on paper, not happening in Virginia Beach, Hampton roads area. I am a widow of a Ret.Navy Veteran. He passed on 09/02/2018. I am disabled .Now with 1 income I can’t keep up with the bills. Now I am being evicted from my apt. With my children. so I agree Veterans Affairs only help people who are enlisted.

  6. Emily McCapes    

    Yes it sounds good on paper !! But in Oregon (Portland,Roseburg,White City) that ant happen ! We’re I live it’s closer to go to Reno VA then Portland ! But I’m told we don’t send Vets out of Visn 20 !! The US Code don’t say anything about a Visn !! It just says we are to go to the closest VA Hospital !!

  7. Ted Simmerman    

    Thank you for all of the efforts to help all Veterans.

  8. D. Senior    

    How do I create a free account
    I see nothing to activate

  9. ly134    

    Just read your article on Veteran Staff Customer Service. As the old saying goes “Looks good on Paper” but “It Ain’t Happening in the Real World of VA”. At least at the Dallas TX VA Facility. Everyone appears to be bothered when you ask for needed information or when you leave a voice mail for a return call,
    the VA staff will not return your calls. I have been told by VA staffers recently that I was a Liar and the staff is to busy to work with me. As I said your Article sounds great in a “I wish it was this way” article.

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