VA employees from across the country recently shared leading customer experience practices, tools and lessons learned during VA’s first-ever Customer Experience (CX) Symposium. The CX Symposium was presented Sept 7-8 in partnership with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), National Cemetery Administration (NCA), Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) and the VHA Innovation Ecosystem.

During the symposium, presenters highlighted the many innovative ways VA teammates “make the difference” for those we serve, so our Veterans choose VA and feel that they belong. 

“It’s our job to put Veterans at the center of everything we do at VA, and that’s what this conference is all about,” said VA Secretary Denis R. McDonough. 

In addition to virtual events, including an online learning series and roundtable discussions, Secretary McDonough was on hand to lead a live award ceremony recognizing VA employees and volunteers who exceeded customer experience expectations.

CX Symposium 2022 Award Winners

Please join in congratulating the following award winners and find the complete list of CX Award Winners at CX Symposium 2022 Award Winners. 

Secretary’s Honor Award for I CARE

The Secretary’s Honor Award for I CARE recognizes exemplary employees who have demonstrated sustained performance or a specific act of noteworthy nature relative to VA’s core values of Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect and Excellence (I CARE). I CARE Award winners go above and beyond normal practice in their role to care for and serve our nation’s Veterans, their families, caregivers, survivors and fellow employees. The winners of the Secretary’s Honor Award for I CARE are:  

  • Veterans Health Administration: Gary Carlson, Suicide Prevention coordinator at South Hillsborough (Riverview) Community Based Outpatient Clinic, VA Tampa Health Care System.
  • Veterans Benefits Administration: Office of Financial Management, Benefits Delivery Protection & Remediation Team.
  • National Cemetery Administration: Jamie Salome, assistant director, Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery Complex.
  • Board of Veterans Appeals: Veterans Law Judge Steven Reiss; Karissa Wallin, Decision Team III; Robert Leal, Hearing Management Branch; Salvador Ambriz, deputy branch chief; Sujen Diviney, program specialist; and Corey Benjamin, branch chief.  

Learn more about VA’s I CARE Award program and nominate VA employees at I CARE In Action – I CARE ( 

man presenting award to woman

VA Secretary Denis R. McDonough presents the Volunteer of the Year Award to Minta Davis (not pictured), a volunteer at the VA Maryland Health Care System. Joyce Kuwae accepted the award on Davis’ behalf. (Photo by Eugene Russell, VA Media Services)

Volunteer of the Year

Minta Davis, a volunteer at the VA Maryland Health Care System, won the Volunteer of the Year Award for her work as a Compassionate Contact Corps (CCC) phone visitor. She combines VA’s Whole Health principles, her background as a fellow Veteran and a vibrant, empathetic personality into her weekly phone calls with Veteran patients.

VA Customer Experience Awards

Employees and teams also received recognition for the following VA Customer Experience Award categories. Visit CX Symposium 2022 Award Winners for the full list of winners.

Best Experience and Most Improved

These awards recognize those within VA that stand out for their consistent ability to deliver exceptional experiences, as measured by key customer experience measures, while achieving the highest scores in leadership attributes, internal control assessments and operational standards and measures.

CX Innovation Award

The CX Innovation Award promotes unearthing ideas by VA employees and increases motivation to enhance the delivery of experiences above expectations. Doing so builds trust in the employee experience and within the Veteran community.

“Own the Moment” Award Program

The “Own the Moment” Award recognizes a VA employee or team within VBA, VHA, NCA and BVA that has provided the greatest impact on the customer experience at the national level. “Greatest impact” is defined as demonstrating at least one of the three “Own the Moment” guiding principles: connect and care (emotion), understand and respond to needs (effectiveness) and guide the journey (ease). Nominees must have displayed these guiding principles by actions that bring credit to themselves, their organization and VA.

Red Coat Ambassador Award Program

The National Red Coat Ambassador Recognition Program identifies the Red Coat Ambassador who has become a role model by significantly impacting the patient experience. The greatest impact will demonstrate connecting and caring, understanding and responding to needs, and how the employee guided the journeys of others. 

By Audrey Umhoefer

Public affairs specialist with the Veterans Experience Office

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Published on Sep. 16, 2022

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One Comment

  1. Sean Collins September 18, 2022 at 2:47 pm - Reply

    Awesome!!! Congratulations!

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