Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 19 Director Ralph Gigliotti is responsible for all U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare-related activities in the Rocky Mountain region, an area encompassing eight systems spread over five primary states, with secondary coverage in five more. Gigliotti manages a $3.5 billion budget to ensure the highest possible care for the region’s 600,000 Veterans.
Gigliotti has had a 35-year career at the Veterans Health Administration, and been in his current post for seven years. In this installment of our #ChooseVALeadership Careers blog series, Gigliotti explained what attracted him to his job and why he finds the work so meaningful and rewarding.
Describe your areas of specialty and how you apply these skills on behalf of Veterans.
I was an undergraduate economics major in college. I went on to combine an early career in human resources with the implementation of Deming-based management at several VAs to form a leadership foundation based on Just Culture. Just Culture ensures a systemic understanding of, and places value on, the workforce by ensuring that process improvement and training serve as a foundation. Appropriate accountability ensures the Veteran receives care second to none.
What was appealing about a career at VA?
The mission, the mission, the mission! VA’s mission is the fulfillment of a promise made by America to her defenders. In my view, VA has the most noble mission in healthcare and in government.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
At this stage in my career I want to ensure that the next generation of leaders are poised and ready to handle the mantle of leadership to ensure the mission continues. That for me is the most rewarding aspect of my job.
How has VA helped you grow in your career?
VA has provided many opportunities for my career growth, such as departmental-specific training programs that contained a wonderful blend of technical growth and mentoring. Specifically, I’d say the human resources training program and the Associate Director training program were among the most helpful. I was also fortunate to be part of the best Leadership VA class in 2000 that gave me a deep understanding of all the wonderful services VA provides our nation’s heroes.
What are a few key benefits of working at VA?
VA has a suite of really first-rate benefits for those who work here. That being said, for me personally, the main benefit of working with VA is the mission. The mission, as I stated earlier, is the most noble in government and in healthcare.
What do you find most surprising about working at VA?
The size of VA can be daunting, with 300,000-plus employees. Know this, though: You are never more than one or two people away from a shared contact. That makes VA seem like a small place after all.
What story do you most often tell people about your work?
I tell people that the care we provide is second to none. We are a national treasure.
What would you tell other healthcare professionals who are interested in choosing a career at VA?
You would find value and an increase in your own self-worth by dedicating your God-given talents to America’s Veterans.
What else would you like others to know about a career at VA?
I would say this: If you’re looking for a place to apply your skills and your expertise, and to feel a deep sense of fulfillment in helping those who have given their all defending the United States, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better organization to work for than VA.
Choose VA today
Lead the delivery of healthcare to our nation’s Veterans: Choose a career as a VISN Director or VA senior leader.