Last July in the MyVA Integrated Plan and overview, we laid out the focus, approach, and outcomes for MyVA. Today, we are releasing our MyVA Transformation Update that highlights our progress and our plan for the rest of calendar year 2016.
Last week, I had the opportunity to speak at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, CSIS about our vision for the future of Veterans’ healthcare and our ongoing department-wide transformation initiative called MyVA. CSIS is an influential and non-partisan think tank in Washington, D.C.
That was an important moment, because the services VA provides to our nation’s Veterans are not often part of traditional foreign policy and national security conversations. They should be. Those VA services are essential to national security.
Why? Our men and women put their lives on the line to defend our freedom every day, and we must keep our promise to them and their families when they return home.
During his second Inaugural Address as the bloody Civil War was coming to a close, President Abraham Lincoln recognized the responsibility the nation had to care for those who have “borne the battle,” and their families and survivors. Lincoln’s charge is as important today as it was when he was commander in chief.
VA’s strategic advantage
VA is the largest integrated health care system in the United States – more than 1,200 health care facilities, from large medical centers to outpatient clinics. Over 350,000 employees—25,000 physicians, the largest employer of nurses in the country, affiliations with over 1,800 academic institutions, and more: a single electronic health record across the enterprise, a lifetime relationship with 9 million patients, psycho-social support for homeless patients, integrated mental health care, an organic pharmacy system, organic geriatric care and more.
Besides health care, VA is the Veterans’ resource for important non-medical determinants of health. These are services like career transition support, education services, vocational rehabilitation, fiduciary services, pension resources, disability compensation, home loan guaranties, insurance and others.
The potential is enormous. We owe it to our Veterans and to the American people to get this right.
VA’s transformation effort is called MyVA
We’re taking advantage of the greatest opportunity for change in the history of our department so we can deliver better outcomes for Veterans and families. Our vision is a Veterans Affairs that is the #1 customer-service agency in the federal government. We want Veterans to see us as a VA they’re proud of. That’s why we call it MyVA.
We’re focused on five MyVA strategies for the long-term and 12 breakthrough priorities for the near-term.
The five MyVA strategies are about rebuilding trust with Veterans, their families and survivors and the American people. They’re a concerted approach leveraging VA’s immense scope and scale so we can give every Veteran an exceptional experience that’s easy, consistent, and memorable.
Our five long-term strategies—our MyVA strategies – are about achieving customer-service excellence by:
- Improving the Veteran experience
- Improving the employee experience
- Achieving support services excellence
- Establishing a culture of continuous performance improvement
- Enhancing strategic partnerships.
VA’s 12 breakthrough priorities for 2016 are designed to achieve meaningful near-term improvements and quick-wins for Veterans while propelling us toward long-term success of the MyVA Strategy. Eight of the 12 priorities are about directly improving service to Veterans. Four of the priorities represent critical enablers to reform internal systems and give employees the tools and resources they need to consistently deliver an exceptional Veteran experience.
Our eight priorities for Veterans will quickly:
- Improve the Veteran Experience
- Increase Access to Health Care
- Improve Community Care
- Deliver a Unified Veteran Experience
- Modernize Contact Centers
- Improve the Compensation & Pension Examination
- Develop a Simplified Appeals Process
- Continue to Reduce Veteran Homelessness
Our four critical enablers are about reforming internal systems, giving employees the tools and resources they need to provide great service and consistently deliver an exceptional Veteran experience. So the critical enablers are designed to:
- Improve the employee experience
- Staff critical positions that are vacant
- Transform our Office of Information & Technology
- Transform our supply chain to increase responsiveness and reduce operating costs
We’re committed to doing everything we can for Veterans, and we’re advancing on all these lines, and many others, as you’ll see.
The President’s FY2017 budget request, another tangible sign of his steadfast devotion to Veterans and his commitment to transform VA, supports these priorities into the next year.
Caring for those who have “borne the battle” remains an essential to our national security. Our services are not only incentives for young people to join the military, but they are VA’s response to the sacred commitment to those who have served, that President Lincoln described. It’s why at VA, our more than 350,000 employees -about one-third of them Veterans themselves – work to honor those lost in how we care for those Veterans who return home, in how we care for Veterans’ families and survivors.
We’re honored to play our part in that noble mission.
Editor’s note: You can view Secretary McDonald’s presentation at CSIS here.