VA is listening to customer feedback. But with more than 20 million potential customers from thousands of different points of view, making that feedback actionable and accessible can be a challenge.

After consulting industry leaders and best practices, VA conducted a broad qualitative research project to gain a picture of Veterans’ life journeys. Using a new-to-VA methodology known as Human Centered Design (HCD), VA created what is now known as the Veteran Journey Map. HCD encourages empathy and understanding. It begins with observation and qualitative research from countless interviews to ensure all perspectives are represented.

The Veterans Journey Map examines Veterans’ situations, needs, behaviors and dreams. It marks a shift in the VA viewpoint from system-centered to user-centered, allowing VA to put the Veteran at the center of policy, program and process decisions.

Since then, VA has created dozens of Journey Maps, examining a variety of Veteran interactions with VA, looking for opportunities of improvement in the services and experience provided.

For example, the VA Patient Experience Journey Map (PX Journey Map) was created to focus efforts on what customers said they cared the most about. VA calls these “the moments that matter.” After completing ethnographic field research, the PX Journey Map team collaborated with research participants and VA stakeholders to synthesize the findings. The results lead to a shared understanding of health care experiences of Veterans across the country. This map represents a common set of moments Veterans experience before, during, and after a health care appointment visit. Instead of the narrow view a single service provider might have into a small part of the patient’s experience, this map examines the full breadth of the patient interactions–both the bright spots and pain points. This Journey Map was a catalyst for the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to launch innovative patient experience improvements.

Those improvements include:

Own the Moment (OTM)

OTM training empowers VA employees to deliver a positive customer service experience by connecting emotionally with Veterans. OTM helps employees deliver the best experience for Veterans and their families. More than 86,000 VA employees have completed the OTM customer experience workshop.

Red Coat Ambassador Program

The Red Coat Ambassador program outfits volunteers and employees with recognizable red coats or vests to greet and assist Veterans and caregivers when they enter a medical center. The Red Coat Ambassador program is in nearly all VA Medical Centers.

Walking the Post (WECARE Rounding)

Purposeful rounding for VA leadership allows patients and employees to build relationships, verify consistency of care, gather feedback, and follow up on opportunities for improvement. The Veterans Experience Office creates tool kits for this and many other programs to make it easy for VA facilities to implement patient experience programs.

The PX Journey Map also plays a significant role in VA’s ability to measure–in real-time–customer trust in VA and gather additional insights for immediate service recovery and continued experience improvements. Insights from the PX Journey map influence the development of survey questions used in VA’s Veterans Signals (VSignals) customer feedback program. Survey questions are carefully developed based on what matters to the customer, so VA is asking relevant questions to collect meaningful insights.

A Veteran’s journey is ever-evolving, and VA has made listening a priority to ensure those needs are met.

This story is part of the Secretary’s Priorities series, which was outlined to the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Military Constructions, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies on Feb. 26, 2019, by VA Secretary Wilkie. The Secretary’s Priorities are Customer Service, MISSION Act, Electronic Health Record, Transforming Business Systems, and Suicide Prevention. These stories are designed to give a closer look at the improvements VA is making in how we relate to, interact with, and ultimately serve our Veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors.

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Published on Mar. 5, 2020

Estimated reading time is 3.1 min.

Views to date: 2,018


  1. Richard Berts Carey March 8, 2020 at 9:22 pm

    What I see in VA is this. Hoping to get resolve.
    With all the great sophisticated in our technology today, yet VA or RO hard to get contact with.
    I been sending email to VA RO for my concerned, yet no one reply, except “for concerned please go to “IRIS:Frequently Ask Question”, but when I go there, there is always a message that stop processing my question. It say,
    “The name entered is already in our record, please select another name”.

    Which is just circling in this status, for almost 2 years now.
    And another thing is, I been sending back all the letter from the VA for “FEEDBACK”, but for some reason, VA still asking me if I did fill the feedback, sounds like they are not receiving them, I do not understand this concept.
    I have been reporting all to my primary care doctor all my current condition about what are these thing health issue.

    Should I still submit by my own, since it is all recorded to my primary care doctor records of what is currennt to my health issue, or should be automatic to VA RO to know from her record of my latest health issue?
    And why I have to submit to VA RO for them to evaluate if they have to figure if existing SCD is to get worse?
    Do the VA RO do not have access to my primary doctor record and see if what is the current status of what is going on of my health issue, since I been telling all my health issue to my primary care doctor?

    Another concerned, my closest VA Patient Clinic is in Manila, Philippines.
    They have “MyHealth” program here that veterans can send email, VA RO are not part of that program.
    But only clinic and doctors, might have dependent program.
    Despite, VA RO also should have series access for at least by chat, since they work as VA RO, yes?

    So the veteran do not wait for a long line to speak with them, and have ability to speak with them online chat.
    and be able to send our concerned, that is just suggestion, the VA had in this program, for VICTIM OF SUICIDE to gain access for chat, which is that chat is inside the US, and they cannot help if veteran is in foreign, I do not understand, why no one here in Manila do the same, having access to chat, even just for a normal business hours.

    VA RO Manila do not have access to chat for us here that stay in their places. Since they are workers for VA RO anyway, they should also accessible to chat here as well, IF POSSIBLE. I lived from 350 klm out of the clinic, and I see my primary care doctor every 6 months, but I try to speak also to VA RO for my concerned yet, long line have to wait, by the time a walk in can speak to one of them, time to late, and end up never assisted.

    But if they have chat available here, there is a great change that veteran can speak with them at any time,
    sophisticated method could use to remind RO there is a veteran that want to speak with them online, as other VA chat program do, by this they can be able to communicate with veteran, I think that works beneficial, rather than wait in line but will not happen because of a long line.

    That is just a concerned.
    Hoping VA RO is easy to access, either by chat or by email, or if possible by FB too.
    For that IRIS Program: FREQUENTLY ASK QUESTION – to many ways not to be able to process question and concerned.
    Other that time, thank you for helping as veterans, we lean on you deeply in our hearts.
    May God bless you, giving your precious time for us.

  2. Donald J.Sabol March 8, 2020 at 8:06 pm

    Fell 15 month ago still waiting for treatment——-left shoulder MRI indicated three torn bicepts muscles and neurology test indicated —rotatorcuff tears-advanced carpal tunnel syndrome and acute left C6/C7 radiculopathy.

    Prescribing physician left VA and Iam in limbo—-still have the symptons—Pain in Shoulder–tingling in hands –limited movements of shoulder , I have called the VA hot line at White House but to no avail, My discomfort is relived by ALEVE.
    I am 91 years old and have 100% disability rating; Veteran of Air FORCE

    Name and E-Mail not indicated in last message

  3. Thomas Bruce Steadman March 5, 2020 at 5:16 pm

    The VA has been awfully good to me but I’m beginning to feel much like Tom Jenkins. I have prostate cancer as a result of agent orange and my PSA has steadily risen. My most recent PSA was 6.08 and I was told it would continue to be watched until it got about 10. I’m getting a second opinion from a non-VA urologist. I’m very uncomfortable just watching my PSA at this point.

  4. Tom Jenkins March 5, 2020 at 3:50 pm

    The VA took away the smoking areas. I don’t smoke but it was nice to talk with VETERANS about how to navigate a system that is confusing and institutional. To most Vets especially those with PTSD or Agent Orange problems it is there only chance to vent. Most Veterans feel that the VA is just waiting for us to die.

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