In a message to America’s Veterans, VA employees, Veterans service organizations and others, Bob McDonald talks about his first 100 days as VA secretary and his vision for fulfilling the Department’s mission.  In his message, McDonald outlines the capabilities and recent advancements at VA, and welcomes collaboration of partners, employees and the public on VA’s transformation.

You can also read the secretary’s message to employees on VAntage Point, where he outlines changes within the organization and how to submit ideas for change.

 

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Published on Nov. 10, 2014

Estimated reading time is 0.4 min.

Views to date: 121

30 Comments

  1. Vincent Cannady November 16, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    I cannot thank Secretary McDonald enough for what he has done for me and my family. I have taken the airwaves to defend this giant among men. He truly cares about us Veterans. He has stopped the harassment from STL Regional Office. He has made my families better, he has stepped in when the VA fell back on their past bureaucracy. Never before has there ever been such an accessible Secretary of the VA. I want to also thank the President for selecting such a person as Secretary McDonald. I hope that veterans who have issues with the VA give the Secretary time to correct years of problems. In the 100 days he has been the Secretary he has changed so much of my families lives that I cannot begin to thank him enough. There is one more thing I want to do, I want him to acknowledge my most favorite VA employee, LPN Kathy Alexander from the Mt. Vernon CBOC. If the Secretary can hire more nurses like Kathy then we are sure to have a much better VA system. I also want to him to do more to weed out the 1000 or more bad actors within the VA as he has recently promised.

    Again I want to thank Secretary McDonald for his work helping all veterans lead better lives, get better medical care, quicker decisions on claims, and more educational and jobs for veterans. I hope he asks more from us veterans since it is our VA(myVA) just as he is our Secretary or in my case how is see him as mySecretary.

  2. Sherri November 14, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Dear Sir,

    In order to provide better care to all of us [Veterans], there should be a STRONG CONSIDERATION to screen our doctors and REPLACE the ones that are “burnt out”! I see one of those doctors and he is condesending, rude, short, and never spends more then 5 TOTAL minutes with me at a time. I am lucky to get an appointment within three months for an appt.. please consider a future evaluation of Va. hospital and clinic emploies.

  3. patrick jahnke November 12, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    U know Bob why does it take 3 days to read a xray I went in Mon had xray done left knee nurses advise line told me urgent to be seen chk out , sent disk to iowa city , off veterans day know. I laying in bed knee pounding, pain meds help a little at 145 call xray again maybe tomorrow they get a chance look at it , why do veteran get piss off (word redacted) at system. Will may next week I know more what may happen , nurse advise line told needs to chk out asap , pass the buck ,lost it start all over again.

  4. Charles Jones November 12, 2014 at 6:39 am

    I have been waiting 5 years on my appeal. Since then, several other health problems have come to light to which I have filed claims. Why is it taking so long to grant ratings? Also, as it is taking so long, my health is rapidly depreciating. Secretary Bob, please address the claims and appeal backlogs more aggressively.

    V/r
    Veteran Charles

  5. Gordon A. Graham November 11, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    Dear Bob,
    Hello. I am your customer. I have been waiting in line now since March 31, 1994. As a stakeholder, I know it’s easy to get lost in the system. Recently, I contacted you and thought we could reach a modus vivendi via the September Federal Circuit Court decision in Beraud v. Shinseki. Your Seattle RO felt otherwise. Assuming the VBMS is going to revolutionize ratings and accuracy, how does 7,527 days with 66% accuracy comport with USB Hickey’s 125-day/ 98% target coming up in fifty one days (2015)?

    My terminal Hepatitis C is now stage 4 (cirrhosis). VA American Lake has tentatively promised me a slot in June 2015 for treatment. I suppose you can see how this illustrates the problem we face when we are ignored medically. You must excuse the cynicism we Veterans feel when paid lip service.

    I wish to retire my VA claim but your people appear to insist on litigating this until I reach room temperature-which, by all accounts, is not far off. I hope for the best but have come to expect the same treatment I and my band of brothers have been given for the last 40 years.

    Happy Veterans Day sir and thank you for your service.

    Gordon A. Graham
    USAF/Air America
    1969-1973
    RVN/Laos/Thailand (two tours)

  6. Darin Dunkin November 11, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    You know what I am doing today as a veteran? Nothing, because the VA reassessment of employees has taken precedence over me possibly being hired at the VA in LA. I have been in the VA, VR&E CH 31, NPWE program for over 4 months that was supposed to an opportunity for employment. It has not happened because of the fore mentioned.Thank you for that. I can’t even get a free meal from one of the participants, because I don’t have extra gas to even drive over. Yeah I am upset and feel like I am a veteran once again shuffled aside.

  7. Whitney Hutchinson November 11, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    Dear VA Sec. Bob McDonald,

    Please raise the Disable Vet comp table SIGNIFICANTLY to keep up with the economy. I would like to someday be able to buy groceries once again… Like I was able to back in 2004. The people who work at McDonalds are nearly rich compared to me with the minimum wage increase… While I can no longer afford a milk shake. I am barely able to fill up the kiddie seat in the grocery cart without breaking the bank.

    Thank you, that is all.

    Whitney Hutchinson
    USAF 2000-2004

    • Danny November 11, 2014 at 7:44 pm

      Congress is due to get a 1.6% raise which will average to about $2,800.Social Security and VA compensation are due to get about 1.7 percent raise equal for Social Security about $20 a month I have not yet figured the VA compensation amount but I’m quite sure it will week will nowhere near $2800.I would like to see a report on how many people in Congress and in the Senate have actually worn the uniform of the armed forces of the greatest country in the world! Need i say more?

  8. Lisa Riley November 11, 2014 at 11:44 am

    Dear Mr. Secretary:

    Thank you for speaking to the veterans and those that care for them. My son is one that waited 70 days for an appointment to a Neurologist and passed away before he was seen. I am so thrilled to see some changes being made in the VA. Being a veteran yourself, you can appreciate what the veterans in our country need, especially the newer veterans. Keep advocating for the veterans!

    Sincerely,

    Lisa Riley-mother of a vet who passed from Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy

  9. Pam Morke November 11, 2014 at 11:05 am

    Sir,
    Please look at the patient load that the Doctors and mental health professionals currently are tasked with every day. Demanding that visits be limited to a shorter time not only frustrates the veteran but the care giver as well. Let the professional be the one that determines the length of the visit.
    Please hire more staff to reduce the patient load.
    In most cases the care I have received has been excellent.
    Getting service Medical records however is very difficult.

  10. Christina Gonzalez November 11, 2014 at 11:02 am

    Dear Sir,

    I am a Service-Connected Hispanic Female U.S. Army Veteran. I had a applied for an IT Customer Support position GS-11 2210 for Harlingen Texas so I could be close to my elderly ill parents and my daughter has a history of seizures and my 2 grandchildren ages 5 years and 3 mos old. I was hired by the Department of Veteran Affairs in May 2013 and was only offered a Laredo VA Clinic IT position so I could get the new VA clinic running which I was able to accomplished for the Grand Opening. I even met U.S. Congressman Mr. Henry Cuellar at the VA Laredo Texas Grand Opening. Shortly after, I was terminated during my probationary period in February 2014 because I asked for re-assignment to McAllen VA Clinic or Harlingen Clinic so I could be close to family. My background and education is in the Information Technology field. The men on my team were given choices of where they wanted to work and I was given no choice. I was constantly threatening by my IT Management here in Harlingen Texas that I was on a 2 year probationary period because I had asked to be re-assign and written a request to my IT Management. I was wrote up and discriminated against and I submitted and informal complaint to EEO. Then I submitted a formal complaint with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. I was assigned an EEO Investigator from Washington D.C. and I am suppose to go to court with an Administrative Judge very soon. Sir, all I wanted was re-assignment I have many years of IT experience in hardware and software and I wanted a position with the in Harlingen Texas VA which I could bring some new fresh ideas to the VA. My team members were all men in the Hardware area of IT and some were very insulting and rude towards women and women PC users. I was treated very badly. We have 30,000 Veterans in the Rio Grande Valley most are Hispanic and 1500 female veterans. We are a small area here and most management here are white men with only a few females. The Hispanics here want people they can relate to such as Hispanic Doctors and Hispanic Management that can understand our culture and values. Please Sir can you make sure that the Harlingen VA Clinic will have equal opportunity for Hispanic Female and Hispanic male Veterans?

  11. ROBERT HEURUNG November 11, 2014 at 10:36 am

    As long as AFGE dominates the VA, the inefficiencies and corruption won’t be fixed.

    The union’s contract is filled with mind-numbing rules to prevent workers from being given a new task, forced to change shifts or being disciplined for shoddy work. The place is run for workers, not patients.

    • Danny November 11, 2014 at 7:37 pm

      the unions should not be allowed to run the VA! They are there to make money for the unions! Va employees should not be allowed to do Union duties on va time, that is a waste of taxpayer money!

  12. Pam Busenius November 11, 2014 at 10:22 am

    What about the vital role of the Caregivers and Families of Veterans? I cannot work outside my home AND provide the safety and security that my husband needs, the VA Caregiver Program has allowed me to care for him myself and not end up making our family homeless.

  13. Brannan Vines November 11, 2014 at 10:13 am

    I appreciate Secretary McDonald’s thorough overview of VA services and benefits. As the wife and full-time caregiver of an OIF Veteran and also an advocate who has worked (from home, without pay) for the last seven+ years with thousands of heroes and families like my own, I know all to well that one of the ongoing issues is a lack of information distribution so that those who need the critical services the VA offers actually know they exist.

    My concern – with this video as well as the roadmap to Veterans Day and the Blueprint for Excellence – is the lack of mention (and encouragement) for the necessary feedback and input from the caregivers and families that spend their days and nights caring for our nations heroes. In recent years we had taken huge steps forward toward including (and encouraging) the hard-won wisdom (and often life saving knowledge) that caregivers can offer VA physicians, clinicians, and staff.

    MyVA MUST include – and fully recognize – that caregivers are on the front lines, each and every day, with our nation’s Veterans… And that offering the level of care and compassion they deserve is only possible with that input.

    I encourage Secretary McDonald to sit down with organizations like my own… and others like the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, Quality of Life Foundation, Wounded Warrior Family Support, and with individual caregivers themselves in order to ensure that the new VA truly meets the needs in seeks to meet.

  14. Dan Hollyfield November 11, 2014 at 9:56 am

    Remember CARES (Capital Asset Realignment to Enhance Services) and FDPs (Facility Development Plans)? I do. I worked on both and while they identified the physical deficiencies and the needs by workload, access and mission change, they did not result in much actually getting built. I suspect this new go-around might result in more outsourcing rather than improvement of access or of the physical infrastructure (which desperately needs it in many areas). The problems are unrealistic goals (fostered by the political appointees), not enough funding to carry out the existing mission, a reluctance to ask for more funding, the desire by the Republican Congress to reduce government and do away with regulatory agencies, shortages in healthcare professionals and pressure to provide additional services within the existing budget and outdated infrastructure. And access – we need provide more satellite outpatient clinics in areas underserved by our hospitals.

  15. tomas gomez sr November 11, 2014 at 9:43 am

    happy veterans va. i know you care about us! as a veteran i cant thank you enough. now lets get this giant tank back on its tracks. and move foward all veterans have to understand this will take some time. again. happy veterans day!! and thank you!! GOD BLESS AMERICA!

  16. Lt.Col. John A. Panneton November 11, 2014 at 4:59 am

    Please send me Sec. McDonalds email address.

  17. Fred Kapelski November 11, 2014 at 3:36 am

    Really? So when will the corrupt VA employees in Phoenix, AZ be brought up on charges? Yeah,,, still waiting. Vets know that nothing will be done, just lip service to their “concern” about the willful abuse of patients.
    Fred Kapelski, RN, BSN
    6/70 to 6/74

  18. Fred Kapelski November 11, 2014 at 3:31 am

    So, when will the corrupt VA employees in Phoenix, AZ be brought up on charges? Yeah, I am still waiting.
    Fred Kapelski, RN, BSN
    USN 6/70 – 6/74

  19. JOHN WALTZ November 10, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    yes, tomorrow is the day that our country set aside for us. let me tell you a true story (and i have the paperwork to back up each statement) so whoever reads this first will almost assuredly never let it be posted, don”t mean nothing ! in 2008 i started having severe neck and left shoulder pain. this averaged between 6-8 on the pain scale, the vamc i was going to did nothing but send me to multiple clinics within the same vamc. finally they sent me to the pm clinic, i spent 10 full months there and not a single x-ray, mri on ct-scan was preformed, this was 2 years after i started complaining. i sent 950 pages of documentation to the va inspector general at that time; George J. Opfer all certified with usps green cards with signatures returned to me as proof of delivery. there were 8 packets total over 2 1/2 years. not a single call, letter, returned. i had to go outside the va and get an mri done, it showed damage to my entire cervical spine including a hernaited disk at c-5-c6, an annular tear at c5, bone spurring at c-7. brought a copy into my va pc, he said; i guess your pretty upset/ then the va did nothing.i went to a non-va pm clinic early in 2012, on the very first visit the doctors placed me on morphine sulfate extended release tablets and oxycodone for breakthrough pain. (the first visit. does that tell anyone anything?) i had 3 spinal surgeries the va refused to cover them. i now have permenent nerve damage at the left s1 nerve, and two more hernaited disks in the lumbar reagion. i live day by day with pain you could not imagine, it would be much worse if a doctor outside the va did not show some common compassion and prescribe oxycodone 2 every 6 hrs. this is a sample of my entire story which is fact. i left the va for good in 2011, and i will never return. so tell me director; am i just one of those cases who was unfortunate?

  20. Robert Hernandez November 10, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    you sound very well polish by .gov. with your hope and dreams, but I think you should sit in a waiting unannounced with out your entourage and camera, as a common veteran as a veteran and let a Doctor talk down to you and your problems. maybe you will feel better and understand, we are veterans of a war , to fight for our America freedom and these so call Doctors are their for one reason so close to retirement! My VA health care in my town is the best till they say we have to send you to the Dallas VA, Then all my hope are dash! so rather than go to the Dallas VA I would feel better going to a civilian Doctor who as more compassion for my health than the Dallas VA Doctors Thank you and congratulation on your new job and good luck,but I think you can’t help this old Vietnam Veteran who never had any help from the .Gov

  21. Richard Kidder sr November 10, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    yes i go to Morehead city N.C. Va and the doctor Swenney told me and my wife that congress told Va to stop all Pain meds off all Vets after seeing me twice for a total time of 15 minutes he cut my pain meds from 300 to 180 to nothing because i told him i didnt like him told him he was making Vets become felonys because they have to buy pain meds off the streets i called him a s.o.b. and told him i didnt want him as a doctor no more the va has not given me a new doctor as of yet im about to go to channel 12 news and tell them what the Va is doing to us Vets Again if i dont here anything from yall by the 15 of Nov ill be talking to the news thank you .Mr Richard D. Kidder Havelock N.C.

  22. N. Wooten November 10, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    Why not make your email available so you can get the straight story.

  23. Jeff Johnson November 10, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    I cannot express to you the need to impart a partnership between the VA and its veterans, especially our younger one who are not members of our traditional veterans organizations. If you come to the Minneapolis VA you see a tremendous volunteer effort that marries the vet organizations with state and county support efforts. Our veteran organization purchase buses and vans to transport our vets to medical services. These vehicles are titled to either the state or county and managed by the county Veteran Services Officer. The vehicles are then driven by veteran volunteers who provide transportation to the local VA facility.

    Five years ago my father lived in the Tucson, Arizona area. He had a stroke and needed long-term rehab care. When I went to the local Legion and VFW posts to see if they had a similar service to what we have, here, in Minneapolis, they not only said “no” but questioned the patriotism of such a service.

    If we want to see the VA increase its effectiveness, we need to encourage our new, younger vets to volunteer and provide services to one another.

    Additionally, I wish to point out that not only all expectations come from the top down. Come to the Minneapolis VA during our winter months and watch our custodians set the example for all of the VA employees above them as they keep our floors and rest-rooms spotless during the sloppy, winter months. This does not go unnoticed by either the vets or the rest of the staff. I could tell you of equal efforts and accomplishments by the administrative staff. These folks are a marvel and set and re-enforce a level of professionalism that makes our hospital visits often times the main social event of the week.

    The VA needs a system for both it and it patients to recognize the professionalism and best practices displayed by its staff.

    I was an Infantry officer in the Army. I specialized in Personnel, Programs and Policies and ultimately in Organizational Effectiveness. When I left the Army I became a training director for a Fortune 300 company and ultimately left to establish a consulting practice on my own. There is so much good to build on in the VA that I have difficulty with all of the trashing of its reputation. Let’s reward the good guys. We can force the bad ones out and re-establish the public’s faith and confidence in an important organization in our society.

    • Margit Norwood November 11, 2014 at 12:20 pm

      It sounds like some of the other VAs could benefit from doing some benchmarking with the Minneapolis area.

    • Danny November 11, 2014 at 7:32 pm

      Jeff & Margit, I believe this is the third comment I have made concerning the Minneapolis VA. I used to work there, and I was also a patient there, in my eyes that is one top notch facility! If Mr Macdonald wants a role model for the entire Veterans Affairs administration, he should look to the Minneapolis VA, and unless things have changed I would specifically point him in the direction of the radiology department there. Overall, from the director down to the MSAs,TOP NOTCH! !

  24. Donna Lenz November 10, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    Bob,

    Thank You For Your Service. Thanks for all the changes you’ve made so far, and will continue to make.

  25. tomas gomez sr November 10, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    i like him. he talks from the heart! we are so lucky we have the va! no one is perfect. i know im not. thanks Mr MC Donald…

    • VINCENT GINARDI November 17, 2014 at 2:13 pm

      Dear Mr. Secretary,
      we rural vets continue to wait for help, when I inquire about getting help locally, I am told yes it is possible but no one knows how to do it. three years I am waiting on help for extreme pain in the back, . I have driven over 3000 miles to visit VA facility s ,yet with no help.The worst part is the dreaded “consult , wher we await months to see if we can get help . so far here is what the VA recommends , drive 10 hours roundtrip to the closest VA hospital with anothe driver . REALLY/ Mr secretary , do us all a favor and bulldoze the va hospitals to the ground and give us a chance to get help locally. Had i served my country the way you give healthcare , well , we’d all be screwed.

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