VA has made it a top priority to continuously engage Veterans and their families to improve our VA community care operations, and over the past several weeks, I again had the privilege of hearing directly from Veterans on how VA can better provide care when and where Veterans need it.

“VA continues to focus on increasing access to timely, high-quality care,” says Poonam Alaigh, M.D., acting under secretary for Health. “Taking time to directly listen to Veterans about their experience with VHA’s community care program is a crucial part of our approach to not only improving how VA delivers care, but also in strengthening VA’s relationship with Veterans and all of our stakeholders.”

Throughout March and April, Jake Leinenkugel, White House senior advisor, as well as staff from the Veterans Experience Office, and I led five listening sessions with Veterans around the country, including sessions in Dayton, Ohio, Helena, Montana, Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Phoenix, Arizona.

The goal of the sessions was to gain a better understanding of Veterans’ personal experiences using VA community care, both positive and negative, so we can turn that feedback into action. As part of the conversations, I also had the opportunity to meet with Congressional staff members in the area, state and county Veteran Service Organizations, along with community providers and VA staff.

The meetings were informal in nature, allowing for candid and organic conversations, with dialogue about Veterans’ overall experiences with VA community care, geography, eligibility and care coordination, among other subjects. I simply wanted to listen to Veterans about the subjects most important to them.

I was particularly interested to receive feedback on topics such as barriers to access and the qualities they look for in a clinical provider. In general, we found that Veterans like the care they are receiving but want to make sure VA continues to find providers that are sensitive to unique Veteran needs. Additionally, we heard clearly that Veterans would like more control over the care they receive and would like to customize their health care options around their own needs and preferences.

Building and maintaining a strong relationship with Veterans is the priority for VA and I look forward to continuing our efforts to engage Veterans, their families, VA staff and all of our other stakeholders in shaping the future of VA community care.

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Published on May. 9, 2017

Estimated reading time is 2 min.

Views to date: 142


  1. william c chambers June 1, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    my choice card can not be used 1n 21502 area i live 107 miles from the nearest medical va hospital but 4 miles from a va clinic which can not give medical operations etc.this clich has to be corrected by the way i am a 5yr Korean vet.USMC thanks a lot william c chambers

  2. Ray Echard May 14, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Why don’t the Va check out patient clinics in New York. The clinic in Lackawanna , NY is so disorganised. I waited 5 months to see my primary for my service connected disability. Then to find out ,she wasn’t even my primary Dr. I’ve been railroaded several times on getting care. I finally seen a so called primary and was finally given a prescriptions to replace my hydrocodone they took away. Then the clinic said it was only temporary. It’s been since Oct 16 that I’ve been severely in pain with no help from this clinic. The Va Should do more research on these clinics, TALK IS BS IN THE MEDIA, tell the truth. I have to pay out of pocket to get care , this is not right when I’m 100 percent and can’t work. Fix the problem…….

  3. James Tobleck May 14, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    When’s Washington going to listen to Michigan vets ? The Battle Creek Director and management staff do absolutely nothing to help my medical care for my total knee replacement that’s been used as a stepping stone for promotion ,bonuses. Close John Dingle Detroit Hospital , I refuse to use a totally disfunctionAL hospital where infection, death, mismanagement is rampant. Mi. VA owes me millions for decades if negative rulings instead of just fixing the botched surgery done in Heidelberg W. Germany 1975 !where’s the 200 xrays, cts, ? Conveniently shredded. I’ve ask for a IG many times , an ombudsman , B.C. VHA and Detroit VBA blew me off. Fix this or I will, 41 years of retribution.

  4. Acarlla Vickie Sanford May 9, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    My dad has had 5 months of appointments at the Battle Creek VA here in Michigan. He was release from our local hospital after a head and spine injury in November 2016. He is still waiting for a referral to a neuro surgeon. Each visit to the VA has not gotten any results. He is having severe pain. His last appointment he asked for a second opinion. The doctor turned to the nurse and said there you go.
    How long does someone have to wait to get a referral?

    • Kathleen McGreal May 12, 2017 at 10:16 am

      Looking forward to it after 15 years of trying to be heard!

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