This is the second of two articles by Sec. Bob McDonald announcing the VA Innovators Network.

I believe most, if not all, of the challenges VA faces can be solved by thinking differently about the issues and our potential solutions. We won’t solve long-standing problems with the same approach and mindset that contributed to problems in the first place. To adapt quickly to our customers’ needs, and test and create new solutions, we must operate in an open and agile fashion that embraces the principles of innovation.

I believe this starts with empowering VA employees — especially those in the field. Our employees are our eyes on the ground, and often know best what the problems and potential solutions are. If we are serious about innovation and delivering value to Veterans, we must invest in the beating heart of our organization—our employees.

We are currently piloting the Innovators Network at eight medical centers in Atlanta, Boston, Biloxi, Chillicothe, Jackson, Milwaukee, Portland and San Francisco. At each of these sites, we’re developing forums that allow ideas to be developed, refined, and tested to best serve Veterans. In addition, we are investing in teaching and training programs to equip employees with innovation-related competencies. We stood up a new capability called an innovation specialist at each site to help create a culture of innovation at these sites.

While we pilot the Innovators Network, here is how you can get involved:

Join the movement!

  • Sign up to receive further communications and information about upcoming events, programs, and efforts about the VA’s Innovators Network via this link:
  • Attend a virtual town hall with current innovation specialists to learn about vision and current projects. Check our website to see when the next webinar is taking place


  • Serve as a reviewer of ideas in the VA Idea House as part of the MyVA transformation. You can contact Sherry Moravy at to sign up
  • Organize a viewing party of TEDMED, an annual conference with the mission to advance health and medicine through innovation, which features stories of VA innovators. VA Innovators Network teamed up with TEDMED to help celebrate our rich culture of innovation in serving Veterans. You can get access to this video stream via the following link:

Start a local Innovators Network community!

  • Volunteer to book a room and spread the word about a local TEDMED viewing at your facility. Check out the innovators network website to find out how to organize a viewing party.
  • Apply to the next call for innovation specialists during Spring 2016. Sign up to receive communications on how to apply at the innovators network website.

Learn about innovation!

Communicate and celebrate your innovation efforts!

  • Write an article on the VA Center for Innovation Medium Blog about a challenge (from customers’ perspectives) and innovations seeking to resolve it. Email if you have a story to write!
  • Make a video to describe your innovation efforts and share on the MyVA blog site. You can find out more information on how to make a video here. (Editor’s note: This link is available only within the VA network.)

We hope to see you involved with this efforts to both grow in your career at the VA and serve Veterans in the process!

If you have any questions, contact Andrea Ippolito, Innovators Network lead at the VA Center for Innovation.



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Published on Nov. 18, 2015

Estimated reading time is 3 min.

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One Comment

  1. ClaireatMisterSparkyOKC November 30, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    Great post! Totally agree that inspiration begins close to home. Thanks for posting.

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