Secretary Bob McDonald and VA leadership gathered with a team of skilled experts from the private, non-profit and government sectors in Tampa, Florida, to discuss the changes needed to improve customer service and long-term Veteran outcomes.

With his own private-sector experience, McDonald recognized the need for an outside advisory board and established the MyVA Advisory Committee (MVAC) in April 2015. This is the committee’s third meeting, the first outside of Washington, D.C., and is focusing on implementation of the MyVA plan.

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“We are really changing from planning to execution… Now that we have set the priorities, what are some of the roadblocks that we need to be looking out for? How do we get the right people in the right spots with the right tools?” said Scott Blackburn, who oversees the MyVA initiative.

Tampa, was chosen for the MVAC’s first offsite meeting not only because Florida is home to more than 10 percent of the nation’s Veterans but also because of the Tampa VA Medical Center’s new primary care annex. McDonald and the MVAC toured the Tampa medical center, met with patients and listened to their feedback.

The facility, which is strategically placed next to one of Tampa’s main highways, provides primary care services, ancillary services and is home to a 10,000 square foot comprehensive women’s clinic and a homeless patient aligned care team.

“A Veteran checks in, goes to a room and everyone comes to that Veteran, the Veteran doesn’t move. The doctor, nurse, dietitian, psychologist or anyone else – everyone goes to that room,” said Joe Battle, medical center director of the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa. “It’s a one-stop shop for the Veteran.”

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The primary care annex is a state of the art model for the delivery of primary health care and its success is being replicated across the VA healthcare system.

The MVAC will continue to not only observe and promote best practices within VA, but will also advise McDonald of prevailing techniques from the private and non-profit sector to assist with the VA transformation.

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Published on Oct. 15, 2015

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  1. DannyG October 23, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    I go to that clinic, & am VERY pleased with my care! Please have respect, & stop putting in the same comments. This blog is intended to help US, & wasting time & manhours by doing so, is wasting VA money – the gov’t is good enough at that, we don’t need to help them.
    Mr. Cabral, you are my Brother, & I mean NO disrespect !!

  2. Ronald DesJarlais October 22, 2015 at 11:43 am

    All these meetings and town halls are “Photo Ops”. No one care about us or our issues. It is all about looking good and improving the image. Mr. McDonald has done little to fix the problems left by his murderous predecessor. Mr. McDonald’s hand have as much blood on them as do the former secretary and the president for lack of caring, lack of trying, and misplace loyalty. Instead of putting the Veterans as top priority along with the elderly and sick, they have been to worried about being politically correct with the welfare community, the illegal community and finally the helping of ISIS radicals before helping our Vets. The old multiple waiting list may be gone (as it was), but who knows what has now replaced it. The upper echelon that was to be fired and other wise punished is still there. St. Pete (Bay Pines) has been bragging about how they have suckered 400K veterans into their new study meant to hurt veteran’s benefits rather than improve them. They are searching for how to connect as many presently considered service connected health issues to the veterans health issues to heredity or genes or life style so that they can have an easier time stripping away veteran’s percentages on their service connected rating.
    The whole system in bottom dollar centered. The VA administration works hand in hand with the section of the section of the VA that deals with the monies paid in compensation. They look for ways to not have to dole out extra to a veteran, yet the same government give what we earned to illegal aliens and 10s of thousands of refugees that they want to have in vade us. They get better benefits than we do. We do not get free food, free welfare checks, free housing free medical care for our families unless we are 100% rated (and we all know how difficult that process is to get the 100%.) and recently they have been reducing our ratings. Many veterans whom I personally know have lost 10-40 % of their rating. those of us still working on getting the 100$ have been waiting years, jumping through hoop after hoop in a seemingly endless circle of hoops. W e all know that the reason for the the endless hoop jumping exercise is to see if the VA big dogs can finally get us to give up on the process–therefore saving the VA millions of dollars in order to try to qualify for their bonus or to justify their job. That’s why a person who sees us for 15 minutes once in our lives has more say about whether or not we as disabled than our treating physicians (both VA Doctors and Outside doctors–many of whom are specialist), and the person actually rating us who may or may not be a doctor at all knows better than our treating Physicians, shrinks, cardiologist all of whom have been treating us for years. It is a gimmick. Most of my stress related issues that I am still trying to deal with are military cause and VA Exasperated to the critical point. Example: Doctor that treated me in the military for angina said it was STRESS related (and also Maybe too much coffee–like sailors in general don’t all drink too much coffee). The VA says it is not service connected, because of the reason given above. Well 1st.- it happen while in. @nd, the stress was present on the submarines that I was on., 3rd, the event that caused my PTSD happen shortly before the heart issues–contributing to the stress. That was dismissed because they said that I did not show the normal signs of PTSD while I was in. The signs like, alcohol related problems, relationship issues, because no family member wrote a supporting letter on my behalf as to how my behavior changed after the incident. The problem is that I became a drunkard and I got divorced 2 times within a few years of the incident. I got 2 DUIs and was placed on the antibuse program while awaiting medical discharge. I had been getting marriage counseling that eventually fail as did that marriage. I became obsessed with thoughts of suicide. No that has not help my case. So all that the VA nonministration has been successful in doing is getting my depression and anger issues to flare up to the breaking POINT. Do I wish that I was part of the hopeless 22 veterans who are taking their lives daily. Well the VA would probably say that if I did wish (synonymous with hoping) I was one of them than I mustn’t been 100% hopeless. My cardiologist have written research on the affects of PTSD on heart patients and how my case is affected by both issues and the VA clerk assigned to my case with his/her massive encyclopedic knowledge base of cardiology and PTSD as related to health and mental health knows more that the Cardiologist, who has now operated on me 3 times, and the 2 psychologists and 1 psychiatrist who have all been treating me for years. After all that clerk must have at least a high school diploma–I think. They do not see how this game they play is not a game for us. It can make a difference of whether we are part of the 22 if we are lucky, or one who becomes homeless of a recluse. Maybe one whose is lucky enough to have the sense to continue taking our meds or maybe not and then becoming one of the lucky 22. I have waited over 2 years fighting with them all the way. I’m actually lucky I know of some who have fought for over 8 years. Sometimes I wish that the number 22 per day (I know its only an average and not a fix number) were more like a waiting list that drawing a number like a lottery because they the VA Administration the president and the congress are all just as guilty and with the same amount of blood on their hands.
    everyday you have the same odds of being one of the luckyor not. If not pick a number again tomorrow and wait. I am so tired of trying to play an unwinnable game. I have felt like the person who brought a handful of stone to a ballistic missile fight. Thank you Mr. President, Mr. Secretary, members of the congress. I hope that when I finally become one of the 1-22 that you remember me every time you try to fall asleep. I realize that this note will do nothing to change the system in which all the powers at be only care about themselves and how much power they can impose of the broken. The broken that they all had a hand in the breaking of the individual.

    • DannyG October 26, 2015 at 5:55 pm

      My Brother, I am 100% svc- connected, & need to let you know that you are wrong abt family members getting benefits! When we moved to a new town a few yrs ago, I thought my wife was having a heart attack on the first night. Not knowing where the hospital was, I rushed to the VA to see if they would help in an EMERGENCY; not only did they not help, the E.R. clerk didn’t even offer to tell me the civilian hospital was abt 2 miles away! I disagree with MOST of your comments, but it is true that TOO MANY VETERANS Administration employees, from the top down, have caused & gotten away with MURDER! Secretary McDonald, in my humble opinion, is the last chance we have! If we don’t help him succeed, the system will fail, the gov’t will win, & I pray that The Creator takes me from this journey before the inevitable happens, & America becomes just a memory in the minds of a few “deranged old veterans”!!

  3. Arnold Miller Cabral October 16, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    To my belief my Secretary of Veterans Affairs should come to BOB STUMP VETERAN MEDICAL CENTER IN PRESCOTT, ARIZONA so the Veterans can Veterans can have a chance their beliefs how to improve Veterans Healthcare such as I

  4. Donavon Dean Kambel Jr October 16, 2015 at 11:23 am

    Dear sir There is a major problem with prosthics at Bay pines the chief of that office has caused me alot of stress when dealing with this office. please check my file and I did write the director of this VA. I am also having major problems with Ssn Juan Veterans hospital with travel and prosthetics and have made a complaint twice to President Obama.. I think and know they change doctors orders refuse to do the job and service veterans equipment such as special adaptive vehicle replacement. I applied for a new trike on June 2 2015 and today October 16 2015. I am 100%service connected veteran with loss of use both legs. why do the refuse to do the job no paperwork was ever submitted from this office. they work with the Bay Pines prosthetics chief who doesn’t like me at all. please check on this because it happens to many veterans.

    • Arnold Miller Cabral October 16, 2015 at 4:27 pm

      My belief Robert McDonald Secertary of Veteran Afairs should come to The BOB STUMP VETERAN MEDICAL CENTER in PRESCOTT, ARIZONA SO VETERANS HAVE THEIR VOICE ON HOW TO IMPROVE VETERANS HEALTHCARE. ………….We do have a Meeting Hall….Semper Fi.

  5. Ed jimenez October 16, 2015 at 8:15 am

    About time

    • Arnold Miller Cabral October 16, 2015 at 4:11 pm


  6. Ellswort Williams October 15, 2015 at 9:32 pm

    I attended yesterday’s event (14 Oct). I was very impressed to see most of the VA’s leadership including Secretary McDonald, Deputy Secretary Gibson and Undersecretary Shulkin. Secretary McDonald stay for the entire event, which showed how important the MyVA initiative to him. I was disappointed that the public was not allowed to comment or ask questions. I was glad to hear Secretary McDonald say that nonprofits are just as important to the VA’s mission and that we shouldn’t be viewed as the enemy but as allies. I founded the nonprofit called “Veterans Counseling Veterans INC” to help fill the breech/gap for the veterans who didn’t use VA for mental health services. It was reported that approximately 40 percent of returning OIF/OEF veterans will not use VA. VCV gives them another alternative while still maintaining a relationship with the VA. We also cover family members that includes girlfriends/boyfriends and grandparents. We all know that providing services to the family will increase the effectiveness of the treatment.

    • Arnold Miller Cabral October 16, 2015 at 4:41 pm

      My belief the Veterans Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald should come to the Veterans Medical BOB STUMP CENTER in Prescott, Arizona SO VETERANS HAVE A VOICE ON HOW TO IMPROVE VETERANS HEALTH CARE.

    • Ralph Maddox October 16, 2015 at 11:47 pm

      It figures they wouldn’t allow any questions from those of us that REALLY DO NEED SOME ANSWERS! Nothing but a photo op with an extravagant back drop. Sure looks like an awful nice place. Yall need to come visit the Carl Vinson VAMC in Dublin,Ga. It is a wreck with a LARGE % of employees that can’t wait for quitting time so they can get as far away from us as possible. Matters not how nice the building is if the people charged with our care, have no use for a Veteran. They fail to understand that without US they are UN or Under employed.

  7. DannyG October 15, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    The primary care annex sounds a bit extravagant & costly for a bunch of vets, but with all the crying, maybe this will help.? Focusing on better Veteran service, from what I am hearing, MUST begin with those employees that “help” us start our VA adventure – the MSAs, front desk, clerk, whatever you want to call them. TIMELY, POLITE, GOOD. SERVICE should be reciprocated, appreciated, & even acknowledged & reported to supervisors & patient advocates. There’s enough strife in our country; let’s try to change one bad thing into good.
    If you start at the bottom of the totem pole, you can change the whole thing, without changing the story it tells.


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