The State of Veteran Customer Experience

Customer Service is VA’s top priority



Veteran Customer Experience Summit with Community and VSO Partners


Veteran Customer Experience Summit with Corporate Partnerships

In 2018, Secretary Wilkie pledged that “VA is about serving Veterans. Our responsibility is to serve you well and honorably. My prime directive is customer service.”

Since then, VA has continued to adopt and implement the best customer experience practices from industry leaders and innovators. These innovators come from both inside and outside VA, including delivery of care, benefits, appeals, and memorial services for all Veterans and their families, caregivers, and survivors.

Taking a collaborative approach, VA works with partners to share lessons learned from top issues for our collective customers.

The State of Veteran Customer Experience Community Partner Mini-Summit gives VA an opportunity to share examples of how our partnerships have made Veterans’ experiences easier and more effective.

Please watch the following videos from VA Partners on their Veteran customer experience focuses and improvements.

T-Mobile - Serving Veterans with free data for VA Video Connect telehealth services

T-Mobile offers discounted plans for Veterans and service members, and free data for Veterans to connect with their VA health care providers. With VA Video Connect and T-Mobile’s nationwide network, Veterans can speak to their doctors from anywhere. Watch the video

Philips, VFW - Providing care to Veterans in rural communities

Philips, VFW, and VA partnered to transform health care experiences for Veterans in rural areas. The main piece of this was working with Veterans to get their feedback in the design of Accessing Telehealth through Local Area Stations (ATLAS). ATLAS is part of VA’s Anywhere to Anywhere telehealth initiative, which sets out to better serve the nearly 9 million Veterans who receive care through VA – no matter where they are. Watch the video

EDF - Integrating caregivers into their Veteran's whole health

The Elizabeth Dole Foundation launched the Campaign for Inclusive Care to integrate caregivers into their Veteran’s health care team. This campaign was built on evidence-based research and the firsthand experience of military caregivers. The practice of inclusive care goes hand in hand with VA’s goal of whole health. EDF, USAA, and VA are committed to improving whole health and customer experience outcomes by recognizing the critical role caregivers provide in their Veteran’s health care. Watch the video

USAA - Providing self-service opportunities for excellent customer service

USAA is looking to the future to provide additional self-service capabilities for customers to receive immediate customer service catered to their individual needs. Watch the video

Walmart – Providing Veterans and military spouses meaningful employment

In 2013, Walmart announced the Veterans Welcome Home commitment which guarantees a job offer to any eligible honorably discharged Veteran. To date, Walmart has hired more than 265,000 Veterans. More than 44,000 have been promoted within Walmart and Sam’s Club. In 2018 Walmart introduced the Military Spouses Career Connection, hiring more than 31,000 military spouses. Watch the video

Amazon, RallyPoint – Reaching out to Veterans in crisis

Amazon, RallyPoint, Harvard University Nock Lab, and VA are partnering to learn more about Veteran suicide from Veteran data to enable faster interventions for Veterans in crisis. Watch the video

Code of Support - Collaborating to expand resources to Veterans and family members

Code of Support Foundation has expanded their network to offer quicker and more comprehensive assistance to their Veteran and family member customers. Code of Support’s PatriotLink system connects Veterans to thousands of free and vetted resources based on geography or specific need. Watch the video

The Independence Fund - Responsiveness to Veterans, their families, and caregivers

The Independence Fund has improved their responsiveness to Veterans asking for assistance, citing the need now more than ever when everyone’s resources are stretched thin. Utilizing a vast network and decades of experience, The Independence Fund makes referrals to other organizations who may be able to serve individuals better or provide a specialty resource. In addition to providing case work to meet the needs of their Veteran customers, The Independence Fund also provides Independence at Home, which helps Veterans with living expenses. Watch the video

Boulder Crest Foundation - Customer Experience is part of the program

The Boulder Crest Foundation offers free posttraumatic growth and other services for Veterans, their families and caregivers, and has placed a special emphasis on providing excellent customer experience. Watch the video

Psych Hub - The most comprehensive online education platform for mental health, substance use, and suicide prevention

Psych Hub is the most comprehensive online education platform for mental health, substance use, and suicide prevention. By breaking these topics down into learning hubs and short videos, Psych Hub provides their customers a unique and tailored experience. The 180 free-to-everyone videos are a great place to start learning how to better support those going through mental health challenges. Psych Hub recently stood up a dedicated COVID-19 Veteran resources section to address the specific needs the Veteran community is facing due to the pandemic. Watch the video

Wounded Warrior Project - Pivoting to serve Veterans during COVID-19

The Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) greatly increased the amount of their virtual offerings and in the process found that this lowered the participation barrier, primarily for women and those with children. WWP also called more than 39,000 of their members to see how they were coping during the pandemic, offering assistance as needed. It found some Veterans in financial distress, and WWP donated more than $11M in grants to offer temporary assistance, as well as $2.1M to Veteran caregivers to offer respite relief. Post-9/11 Veterans needing assistance can reach the WWP Resource Center at 1-888-997-2586. Watch the video

Goodwill Industries - Housing and meeting Veterans where they are at

Goodwill Industries of the Inland Northwest focuses on helping Veterans take the essential next steps to immediately secure stable housing. Outreach teams travel to Veterans in their communities and actively search out homeless Veterans to offer their assistance. Watch the video

ESGR - Supporting members of the National Guard, Reserve, and their employers

The National Guard and Reserve make up 40% of the US military and need the support of their employers prior to deploying (often on short notice). Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve helps employers understand, value and support their military employees. ESGR exposes employers to the unique challenges and experiences of service members through training and excursions designed to improve employer-military employee relations. Watch the video

Endeavors - Providing relief to homeless Veterans

The Endeavors Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) has shifted operations due to COVID-19 to quickly bring Veterans in for care. The phone system was changed to serve the increased number of calls and, instead of sending callers to voicemail during surges, they are transferred to secondary employees to improve their experience at first contact and beyond. Hours of operations were also expanded to support more Veteran consultations in the evening hours due to increased demand. Endeavors has also increased their network to offer additional services to customers by joining the Cohen Veteran Network. Watch the video

Spokane CVEB - Serving Veterans in Spokane, Washington

Spokane’s Veteran First Board (Community Veterans Engagement Board) brought together all community resources for Veterans during the Spokane Veteran’s Stand Down on January 25, 2020. Providing these resources in one place offered Veterans direct access to learn about their eligibility for needed benefits and services. Veterans left with haircuts, new clothing, health care, and most importantly, the understanding that support is available to avoid crisis. Watch the video

American Red Cross MVCN - Connecting with military caregivers

The American Red Cross Military and Veteran Caregiver Network leveraged online platforms to provide more support to caregivers across the country. MVCN is a network of caregivers served by caregivers, as all MVCN staff have served as a caregiver at some point in their life. This organic, meaningful connection improves MVCN’s customer experience by providing empathy. Watch the video

TAPS - Hope and healing for Veteran survivors

Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) cares for the families of America’s Fallen Heroes, sometimes even before the death of their loved-one. By integrating subject matter experts into all support services, programs and referrals, and by collaborating with VA, TAPS brings hope and healing to our military families, honoring the service of their loved ones. Watch the video

American Legion Auxiliary - More than a century of serving Veterans, military, and their families

American Legion Auxiliary serves in more than 8,000 communities across the country. Adapting to the pandemic, ALA members have hosted virtual baby-showers for Veteran mothers, honored Women Veterans in Ohio by delivering certificates, goodie-bags, and flowers; made heart shaped pillows for Veterans at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston, South Carolina; and donated shampoo for Veterans at the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania VA Medical Center. All Veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors are encouraged to participate in the ALA’s Poppy Program each year. Watch the video

Michigan Veterans Affairs - Serving Michigan Veterans

The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency has created the Check on MIVet program to serve the immediate needs of Michigan Veterans during the pandemic. It hosted virtual coffee hours to expand outreach of benefits and services, and improved access to county Veteran Service Officers. All Michigan Veterans and their families can call 24/7 1-800-MICH-VET, or log on to MichiganVeterans.com to find out more about Michigan Veteran resources. Watch the video

Miami, Ohio CVEB - Serving the Veteran community in Miami, Ohio

The Greater Miami, Ohio Community Veterans Engagement Board hosts a resource and job fair for Veterans each year to provide direct access to support, offers a 2-1-1 United Way support line 24/7 for Veterans and families to be connected to community resources, and a military task force focused on supporting Veterans with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Watch the video

Bob Woodruff Foundation - Intimacy after Injury

The Bob Woodruff Foundation has expanded resources for therapeutic advances to alleviate the devastating impact of war injury on fertility and on physical and emotional intimacy. Veterans In-Vitro Initiative (VIVA) enhances VA fertility services to Veterans who fall outside of VA services or eligibility to help couples or individuals achieve pregnancy and a delivered baby. Watch the video

Blue Star Families - Strengthening America’s military families through communities

Blue Star Families have focused on keeping families connected during the pandemic by holding additional online events, distributing Facebook Portals to connect Veterans with their families in VA Medical Centers, and provided local and career support to families in their communities. Watch the video

Easter Seals Houston - Serving Houston, Texas Veterans

The service member, Veteran, military connected program at Easter Seals in Greater Houston, Texas, has created an internal workflow designed to make the experience easy for its customers. All avenues of access, be it phone, e-mail, or in person, is routed to the same place which ensures a consistent and exceptional experience. The intake process is in-depth to understand the full nature of needs and to assess if additional resources are available. Watch the video

BeConnected - Serving Arizona Military Families

Arizona’s BeConnected team coordinates state and federal resources to Arizona Veterans, with the goal of reducing Veteran suicide in Arizona. All Arizona residents are encouraged to save 1-866-4AZ-VETS into their phones to support Veterans and their families whenever the need should arise. Watch the video

Cohen Veterans Network - Removing barriers of care for post 9/11 Veterans and their families

The Cohen Veterans Network is a national network of mental health clinics that serves post 9/11 Veterans and their families. Pairing Veterans and their families with a personalized care plan that includes a wide array of treatment options, from within and outside of the Cohen Veterans Network, provides the best possible customer service and experience. Watch the video

ARCHANGELS - Reframing how caregivers are seen, honored, and supported

ARCHANGELS highlights the challenges unpaid caregivers face, which often results in increased substance abuse or mental health issues. Acknowledging these challenges, ARCHANGELS captures caregiver stories and provides tailored resources. Watch the video.

United Through Reading - Keeping Veterans and their families connected despite distance

The United Through Reading app is open to Veterans, get started today at utr.org/app. United Through Reading’s Veteran outreach is supported by the Bob Woodruff Foundation.. Watch the video.

Texas Veterans Commission - Serving Texas Veterans virtually

The Texas Veterans Commission has adjusted services to provide their customers virtually to save time and keep Veterans safe. TVC has also improved the user interface of their website to get customers the information they need faster. Watch the video.

 

Author

Tim Hudak

  joined the VA in December 2013 and is on the Veterans Experience Office team. Tim, a Chicago-land native enlisted in the Marine Corps straight out of high school. As an intelligence analyst he deployed to Al Anbar province, Iraq with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363 in 2006 and 2008. After the Marine Corps, Tim used the GI Bill to earn a degree in Intelligence Studies from Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pa., and co-founded the university’s first student Veteran organization. Tim is active in many Veteran organizations.

Comments

  1. Chris    

    Maybe some VA are good. Boston downtown seemed OK. Vegas was troublesome, and Miami is AWFUL!

  2. Chris    

    Customer service? You mean from the smug VA slackers? It’s a joke right?

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