VA’s Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) Service is deploying its electronic Virtual Assistant (e-VA) to the national stage. e-VA is an artificial intelligence platform, providing modern, streamlined and responsive customer service support to VR&E’s Veterans. Importantly, it automates routine administrative activities for VR&E Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors (VRC) and staff.
e-VA is a private and secure platform that streamlines electronic communication through text messaging or email. It provides Veterans with timely responses to basic questions, and allows them to schedule and reschedule appointments, receive automated alerts, follow-up messages and appointment reminders, and submit documentation from a smartphone, tablet or computer. Additionally, all correspondence for a particular Veteran within e-VA will be captured and saved in that Veteran’s record in VR&E’s case management system.
“For our Veterans, e-VA will mean communicating with more flexibility and convenience, scheduling and rescheduling appointments, sending documents securely, and connecting with our counselors and staff via text and email,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “For our VR&E counselors and staff, e-VA will electronically engage and connect with our Veterans, more efficiently handle administrative functions, work with our case management system, and provide management with additional support and reporting tools.”
What does this mean for Veterans?
Through the new application, Veterans will be able to:
- Communicate with more flexibility and convenience.
- Obtain timely responses to basic questions.
- Be able to schedule and reschedule appointments, as needed.
- Receive automated alerts, follow-up messages and appointment reminders.
- Submit documents, such as grades, schedules and other important documents.
- Connect with their counselor via text and/or email.
How to get started with e-VA?
Veterans using VR&E services can opt-in to this new application. To get set up with e-VA, Veterans already in VR&E can expect to receive a text message or an email introducing e-VA in the next few weeks. Veterans must opt-in to start using the optional application. Upon opt-in acceptance, the benefits of e-VA will immediately be made available.
What if a Veteran doesn’t get the text or email?
This new electronic system is only available to Veterans receiving services from VR&E. If a Veteran receiving VR&E services does not receive either a text message or an email introducing e-VA, the Veteran should contact their counselor and ask for that information to be sent to them. The Veteran should also confirm their current smartphone number and email address with their counselor at that time.
Are there other options for connecting with VR&E counselors?
While e-VA is available via text messaging and email, Veterans’ VR&E counselors are still available to assist by phone and/or via tele-counseling. Counselors will resume in-person visits after the national emergency has been lifted.
For questions or additional assistance, please contact a VR&E counselor at the local VA regional office (RO). Veterans can find the closest VA RO at https://www.benefits.va.gov/benefits/offices.asp or call 1-800-827-1000. For more information about VR&E, visit https://www.va.gov/vre.
Samantha Owens is a management analyst for VBA’s VR&E Service