Man on Phone            

I think we all ask ourselves that question at least once during our  career at VA. Like most professionals, we have options and choices. Moreover, any career is really a choice. Yes, we have bills and the economy can weigh in on a decision, but for the most part, we choose where to work, or serve as the case may be.

If you read the news stories about VA as regularly as I do, you get a wide range of information. From exciting achievements, to backlogged claims, to heartfelt moments at a national cemetery. You also are hard pressed to go a day without reading something negative.

So today, I ask myself that question. I retired from the US Army and my kids are almost grown. Do I really need the money? Not really. Yes, it is nice, but houses are inexpensive in Waco, TX, and I can eat at a relative’s home  any day of the week there. What I cannot get in Waco right now is a sense of purpose. Today, I am serving fellow Veterans with other VA employees. I read little jokes in the Federal Times each week that display federal employees as lazy, unprofessional people. We are often lumped into a single stereotype. The truth is that there are some of those. However, most of the people I work with are the same Veterans that we serve, and family members of Veterans who truly care and work hard to do their part to better the lives of Veterans. They are health care providers that give of themselves daily to enrich a Veteran’s life. I know I could work many places. I choose to work at VA.

I urge health care providers to dig past the headlines of the news of the day or the issue in one small town. Dig into real data on or read into the latest reports rating:

  • VHA as “excellent” by the American Legion.
  • Watch Phil Longman of the New America Foundation, as he talks about how he was asked by Forbes Magazine to write an article about the “Jack Welsh of Health Care.”
  • Dig into the Office of Academic Affiliation website and examine how each year over 100,000 health profession trainees receive part of their education in VA, where they have a major role in the delivery of the “best care anywhere” to Veterans.

Just like we are advised to not judge a book by its cover, I encourage you to look Inside VA and learn more about VA Careers.

The next time I am asked why I work for VA, I will respond with two reasons.  First, to serve Veterans and have a sense of purpose. But also, because I choose to. How about you?

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Published on Oct. 11, 2012

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