Our Nation has entrusted VA to honor the promise we give all those who serve in uniform: to care for those who have borne the battle. To do that, VA has to build a world class customer experience. We know this because Veterans today look much different than those of my grandfather’s generation. And the Veterans I served alongside in Iraq as a Marine Corps non-commissioned officer and those I worked with in my home state of Texas come from diverse backgrounds, families, and have unique needs.

That’s why I’m honored to join VA’s Veterans Experience Office (VEO) as the new Chief Veterans Experience Officer (CXO). This team is charged with understanding the experiences of all those who served in uniform, and are served by VA. We’re going to use those insights to improve customer experience (CX) through all channels and use interactions based on the Human-Centered Design (HCD) fundamentals.

With these, VA will build a world-class customer experience by keeping Veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors at the center of everything we do. Their experience is paramount.

We will work for Secretary McDonough’s two goals to “increase access and increase outcomes” for the Veterans we serve, and I am honored to work with VA leadership and the VEO team to help accomplish the following three (3) strategic CX priorities:

  1. Improve our understanding of how COVID-19 has impacted our Veterans and VA employees in order to improve CX and employee experience (EX) across all VA program areas. Measuring CX as it relates to Veterans’ trust and trust in accessing VA care (in-person, telehealth, vaccinations) at VA facilities across the country will be a top priority. VA must also understand the impact of long shifts and telework on VA employees so we can learn, design and improve CX and EX in tandem.
  2. Improving access to VA’s resources with equity starts with listening to the voice of the Veteran community. Our women, LGBTQ+, Native, rural and other minority Veterans require different approaches with outreach, care and service. That’s how we build trust with our Veterans, by listening and then designing tailored customer experiences and empowering VA’s public servants to meet their individual needs.
  3. Collaborate with our adjacent federal, state and local government agencies and nonprofit organizations to share CX and EX best design and implementation practices through VA’s Customer Experience Institute (CXi). Then we’ll collectively increase access and outcomes for Veterans and their families.

This isn’t a mission VA takes on alone. Many great Americans also serve in organizations supporting the Veteran community in ways that VA cannot. I proudly come from this world and will strive to increase collaboration across the Veteran-serving sector with my colleagues at VEO. By building and strengthening partnerships we will reduce competition to free up more resources for our shared customers.

If you have resources to share with the Veteran community, let us know. Please share VA’s Welcome Kit. Join a Community Veteran Engagement Board. Attend a virtual Veteran event. Refer a buddy to VA care by having them call 1-800-MyVA411 or click on to www.va.gov/health-care/. Sign up for VA’s #VetResources Newsletter.

John Boerstler is VA’s Chief Veterans Experience Officer. He is a native of Texas who served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1999-2007, which included deployments to Iraq and the Republic of Kenya. He later served in the U.S. House of Representatives, under two Mayors of Houston, and helped found the Lone Star Veterans Association to serve Texas Post-9/11 Veterans and their families. He previously served as the Chief Executive Officer of Veteran-focused nonprofit Combined Arms.

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Published on Mar. 2, 2021

Estimated reading time is 3.1 min.

Views to date: 978


  1. Clay Allan Coker March 18, 2021 at 11:43 am

    I am exhausted with banging my head against the brick wall that is the Veterans Administration. Its obvious that they want me to die to make way for all the newly broken veterans that they didn’t plan for. I am giving up on the VA in order to hold on to what sanity I have left. How ironic!!!

  2. Chris Herrick March 8, 2021 at 11:34 pm

    When you hand out pill combos I check. Glad I do too. Moderate interaction is too much for me. Also, is it a risk factor for someone with PTSD to be “[white], male, military training”? Or is that just one nurses opinion. I support our republic no matter who is running it. Really want to work with the v/a but trust is not free. Rather be homeless than managed.
    Hey president Joe Biden what is your plan for the appeals process? Check out the vets complaints on reddit please.

  3. David Alan Christman March 8, 2021 at 10:06 am

    gross incompetence and severe abuse at the va in lexington ky. almost 1 year and have to move away because i complained and the va blacklisted me in the community. zero healthcare and suffering every day. these are criminals and tyrants and they deserve jail. i feel like I’m dieing

  4. Michelle March 6, 2021 at 11:48 pm

    Am I on candid camera? The VA is a joke. As a retired RN I’m shocked at the lack of professionalism. The lack of respect that any human being deserves. The 2nd highest death rate for Mental Health Issues, eating disorders, and the VA does not have a program. I wonder a lot why I went to serve this country if they can’t provide appropriate care. IF IT WEREN’T FOR OUR SACRIFICE THE STAFF WOULD NOT BE THERE!!!

  5. Richard Parris March 4, 2021 at 5:12 pm

    WHEN IS THE VA GOING TO START REIMBURSING FOR COVERED URGENT CARE PRESCTIPTIONS?!! It’s been 10 months on mine and 4 months for two TRICARE referred ones. I finally got an honest answer from a clerk who said they aren’t bothering to pay them due to Covid 19 ! ????

  6. Joseph Candelaria March 4, 2021 at 10:20 am

    As a 100% P&T veteran who also retired from VA, I would have to say that the care that I have received from VA has been sub-par and excellent. Absolutely no consistency. I pay over $600 per month for private insurance so that I have somewhere to go when VA falters, which is quite often. I do not know how long it will last, but I am so thankful for the community care that VA has referred me to. The best care that I have received in the 45 years that I have been using VA. There needs to be sweeping changes in the employment politics that have ruined VA for years. It seems that 10-20% of employees actually love their jobs and are mission oriented. The remainder are only there for the paycheck. I am comfortable saying this because I retired with 37 years of Federal Service.
    Hoping that this is not just another smokescreen implemented to make you look different at VA and actually makes the necessary changes needed to actually compete with commercial medical care. Good Luck!

  7. Gregg McBride March 4, 2021 at 8:16 am

    Call the Dallas V.A. and try to reach someone. Then get transferred. Call back, 3,4 times.
    Have an appt? Call and verify it’s a telephone visit, then no one calls. Then they say you missed your appt.
    Phone system is awful. Getting hold of someone is crazy. MOST of the staff I come into contact with are great but I see so much LAZY sitting around it’s sad. I hate to question where they find some of the people.
    And maybe I’m wrong, but the Dallas V.A. hospital is referred to by many as the South Dallas Homeless Shelter. Many of the people there are just sitting around, not seeking care or other it appears. Judging? Yep, but you go and make your own judgement.
    My care has been great. NO issues there and almost 100% of direct care staff should be commended. But those phone calls…

  8. Brian Taylor March 4, 2021 at 8:04 am

    After reading some of the comments from my fellow veterans it would seem that many issues spoke of here are of a local nature as opposed to a regional or national problem.
    I give praise to the Ann Arbor Michigan V.A. for their dedication and compassionate care.
    During this difficult time it is important to remember they deserve the same respect for taking care of us as we deserve for serving our country.
    Often times they are over worked and under staffed. That part is the fault of politics and legislators. If you are having problems, reach out on a local level and let them know. If things don’t improve, write or call your state Representative or Senator to see if they can help.

  9. Erwin Velasco USNAVY Retired March 4, 2021 at 6:13 am

    I’ve been using the VA healthcare system since I retired from the Navy after serving 29 years of active duty. I am grateful for the outstanding service that I received from VA hospital both to my PCP, mental health provider and specialty doctors. All have been very professional and attentive. Thank you so much! GOD bless!

  10. ryan March 4, 2021 at 1:58 am

    Wait they serious I thought this was a duffleblog post satire.

  11. Henry Collins Jr. March 4, 2021 at 12:37 am

    I have not experienced acceptable medical assistance when needed. I am a United States Marine that served my country with pride and dignity. I am a Vietnam Veteran 1968-1969.
    After reading the above complaints and lack of earned services, to include having people evaluate your military situation when they have absolutely no military experience, the “ New organization is structured to make the necessary adjustments before the remaining Vietnam Veterans die from their illness.
    I am confident we will see major changes very soon. I pray I am correct.

  12. Jaime Duarte March 3, 2021 at 11:58 pm

    I’m filing for medical injuries to my left shoulder that happened in boot camp. VA says because I re-enlisted I must be okay. The VA denied my claim, I’m having left shoulder pain and numbing in my left arm. I filed for shin splints pain in both legs, but was approved for left side only. I was denied hearing loss also because of my MOS. I’ve been on UH1 Hueys, c-130’s and C-141’s which I believed cause hearing loss, VA denied. I’m not asking for charity, just to be compensated for my injuries. Semper Fi,

  13. Jason Germany March 3, 2021 at 10:32 pm

    Dallas va, six months to get a dental appointment. Six f@@&king months. You have to drive up there because they refuse to actually answer phones. The only care I get in north Texas is because of the choice program. You will fail because you will not walk in there and fire the people who need to be fired. Resign now

  14. Tammy L Alenduff March 3, 2021 at 10:18 pm

    I sure hope you can do something. The ATL VA is a joke. My husband should have had a colonoscopy 2 years ago. We’ve gotten the prep stuff twice now. Wasted expense there, but limit his rescue inhalers so he just about runs out everytime before the new ones show up. He’s on a nebulizer as well, and we went 2 weeks without that because the script wasn’t available to refill when he ran out. Way to treat veterans with lung issues.
    His original dr. said he had an enlarged prostate when he first started going. After years of issues, and an emergency room doc diagnosed him with diverticulitis and amazingly his issues cleared up! The original doc was supposed to have set him up with a sleep study. After 5 years we finally gave it up!! Since he’s been moved to a newer outpatient clinic and yet a new doc, maybe we can finally get that accomplished after his colonoscopy but sure not holding my breath.

  15. Jim Murray March 3, 2021 at 9:31 pm

    Y’all need to visit Charleston, South Carolina VA & get treated like royalty.

  16. KenF March 3, 2021 at 8:44 pm

    These negative comments are accurate. I worked as a veteran at the VA for three years full time without compensation in Behavioral Health working with addiction. The comments your reading are almost identical to what veterans complain about in group sessions. The problem is very, very simple: VA’s client is the rules, not the veterans. Now there is an Experience Office that will require VA employees to document veteran experiences so that is looks like veterans are cared for. This will make it much worse, if that’s possible. Saying to VA employees you want them to enhance veteran experiences and then requiring them to prove they are doing their jobs is reenforcing the fact that you are the employee’s client. What the answer? Take your car to a really good car dealer for service. What what happens. Watch how you feel. A good service department doesn’t spend any time convincing the dealership that they are taking care of customers. They just do it. They don’t need a Customer Experience Office. The VA staff are totally frozen with rules. That’s the experience we veterans feel when we go to the VA.

  17. Minnie Mouse March 3, 2021 at 6:47 pm

    My VA is a joke Over paid public servants that have no idea what customer service is Really really bad doctors Cant get a PCP I gave up in them They are so incompetent They stress me our so bad I wont even go there

  18. K. S. March 3, 2021 at 5:03 pm

    I had an appointment today and asked the clerk to please wear his mask properly. Upon exiting my appointment the mask was off again. I’m done!

  19. KimJ March 3, 2021 at 3:34 pm

    My dog gets better health care at the vet than I do at the VA.

    I can get my dog and appointment within a day, get tests and schedule surgery within a week. The types of care and surgery available to my dog is more than I get at the VA.

    The VA is an employment welfare factory that every now and then provides health care by accident.

  20. Jacque Welsh March 3, 2021 at 3:09 pm

    No PCP since my Father passed away in 2017. They all leave before you get in to see anyone. I believe President Biden truly understands our problems, and I hope the new Secretary of the VA gets it. We need this! Uncle Sugar promised that we would receive care if we got hurt. Really? We did our part. Your turn.

  21. Lance Smith March 3, 2021 at 3:05 pm

    POW w/PTSD, attempted suicide, going thru a divorce at the moment (married 40 yrs), and I’m on the verge of going homeless.
    My mental health care rep is trying hard to help, but “The System” does not appear to be working.
    I also ran out of Metoprolol 2 weeks ago. Since I transferred from Fayetteville, NC to Atlanta, GA, I’m being told I have to have an echocardiogram before I can get more heart meds. It’s scheduled for April. WTFover?
    I’ll likely die of a heart attack before then – homeless or not. But hey, that’ll solve the whole problem. Will it not?
    Have a nice day!

    • KimJ March 3, 2021 at 3:37 pm

      The Atlanta VA……good luck bro…..I moved to another state just to get away from the Atlanta VA.

      Call the White House VA hotline if you want help soon.

  22. Damian Townsend March 3, 2021 at 12:33 pm

    Really? When? Your entire system sucks and his built around killing off those that use you. I truly hope we get politicians with nuts that will forcefully fire all of you and force you to use the same shtty service you provide.

  23. Robert Grimes March 3, 2021 at 12:33 pm

    John Boerstler is VA’s Chief Veterans Experience Officer,
    You can’t fix 300,000 folks with a political policy union in place. You already understand that, and positive comments above are selected for placement in this public forum. VA Healthcare will never be up to the standards of private enterprise, nor will the expectations change as long as the VA does not actively work to give every veteran a choice. With choice the individual will go where they feel the respect and quality of care is the primary purpose of the visit. You sir have a tough job herding cats..
    Example, the VA effectivly shut down this year, period, everything was Covid-19 fear related. All my private practice doctors, test labs, therapy providers, and to a limited degree my primary doctors never stopped practicing. We all wore the mask, washed out ands, and social distance as possible. I had a condition requiring an MRI, the doctor advised me 3-6 months for the image at the VA. I He added a notation that an MRI was called for in my records. I took that to my Primary private practice doctor, had the test 3 days later. I had 2 procedures done, and continue to make normal schedules to see my doctors as needed.
    Is the VA employees helpful? I have never had a bad experience during a visit. Do I use the healthcare provided 100%, no. Since you can’t replace, discipline, or correct most union issues, you have given the control up. You’re a former Marine Corps non-commissioned officer, let’s see if you are a leader of change or working for another retirement.

  24. Obra Samons March 3, 2021 at 9:57 am

    One more comment: ask to see or be assigned to a social service person who can help you through the process of getting help. This department is for serious problems not a complaint department. Complaints are handled by the patient advocate department. If you are not capable of handling your personal care and have no one else to help you or no one you can trust contact the social services department and they will assign you to a person who can help you. The American Legion advocates can help you get in touch with the right VA departments they were tremendous helping me and advising me. I Hope this helps and May God Bless Our Wounded Warriors who put their lives on the line to keep our country Free and bless their families.

    • Susan Michele Wiggins March 3, 2021 at 10:45 am

      Oh yeah, I have been waiting to see my PCP since November 2020. My appointment was on April 12, 2021. Hampton VA called me yesterday to me that my appointment has been canceled. There are too many veterans in Hampton Roads.

  25. Obra Samons March 3, 2021 at 9:29 am

    My husband died recently from agent orange related diseases he battled for his life for years. The VA WAS A GOD SEND for him and me . I took care of him at home with the VA’S HELP they supplied me with everything thing he needed . I will be forever grateful. Everyone can complain if they want but it is FREE for veterans who fought for their country, every medical facility has problems but every facility doesn’t have thousands and thousands of veterans that need care on a daily basis. Nothing is perfect and could use some improving . COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS

    • Robert H Domonkos March 3, 2021 at 4:55 pm

      Amen. Denver’s new VA hospital is like a 4 star hotel. 8 separate doctors conferred on my case. I have an appt tomorrow that I made a week ago. They’ve overnighted medicine to me when I ran out.

    • J.C. Sawdey March 4, 2021 at 3:43 pm

      Obra, FREE sounds nice however if the care is not available or sub-par, it is meaningless. I’m sorry for your loss.

  26. S Riddle March 3, 2021 at 9:08 am

    I was introduced to the Veterans Affairs in 2012, after being Medically Retired. My family and I have moved 4 times to utilize different VA systems in different states. We have been homeless several of those times just trying to navigate the quick and easy VA health care and benefits systems.
    We are still Navigating the Veterans Affairs their is never a slight consistent thing with the VA other then the system is broken. If I could do it over I wouldn’t even ask them for a loli pop of their desk. The Department of Veteran Affairs is one of a Combat Veteran, Veteran, civilian, family Worst experience. I met with one of my primary team Va and discussed how they need to emplemnt a VA Combat Action Ribbon… For the ones who have been forchant enough to be associated with this organization. I do however pray for the Department of Veteran Affairs for the 10% of the VA Staff that does Their job and care’s for just people’s well being. I would give anything to meet with these top Veteran Affairs Reps that are changing all the statistics that are not being changed stop trying to decive people. I have been writing my state Reps and the white house monthly on average for 8-9 years now and still haven’t gotten a response let alone a meeting or phone call, in regards to the VA and how important the system is and how it’s everything BUT!! Especially for those just transitioning from and into the VA.

    • Tammy L Alenduff March 3, 2021 at 10:01 pm

      My condolences. And I’m glad they stepped up for you. However, since you haven’t run into problems like the rest have had, I don’t think it is fair for to basically call everyone cry babies. You haven’t experienced being hung up on several times in a row, calls going unreturned. We’ve even gone through 2 years of trying to get a phone number changed on my husband’s records! How about how his rescue inhalers script expires when he needs them the most. Yes, they limit my husband on his rescue inhaler. And they’re such junk that they clog on him. They told him that he needs to rinse them after EACH use, and then let dry for 8 hours…….. Let that sink in for a minute.
      And that is only the tip of the iceberg.

    • Trena Childs March 3, 2021 at 11:24 pm

      Amen to that!!! As a veteran myself, there are no words to describe how amazing the VA hospitals are. Too many people take things for granted and NEVER say thank you. Don’t get me wrong y’all I have been in your shoes and I feel your pain!!! It takes time and patience to learn the ropes of how to maneuver through obstacles with VA relations. Do your research on which way should you approach the issue. When research, you have put yourself one step ahead. I just had a situation, positive outcome in a short period of time.

      All I am going to say is, it pays to use “chains of command” when you need help with an issue. It does not pay to get upset. If you have all valid documents to support your issue in hand, time line of any VA organizations getting back to you in a timely manner, can and will improve. Hope this helps.

  27. Victor Morrow March 3, 2021 at 6:41 am

    I have been using the VA services pretty steady now since 2017/2018 and I am very pleased with all the service and treatment and respect I receive whenever I’m at any VA facility. My biggest shot out was when I went through a divorce and fell into a homeless situation. I reached out to the homeless section and they walked me through the process and found me a place to live and helped me with rent and supplies from a bed to a towel so to that I am very great full. I encourage any Veteran who is facing this kind of crisis to reach out to the VA.

  28. David L Stilwell March 2, 2021 at 11:50 pm

    Get the message out that Veterans with 100% disabilities don’t pay for treatment. Hospitals and Clinincs don’t send what’s needed to the Insurance companies. Most of us have bad credit scores because the bills aren’t processed or coded correctly. Fix it!

  29. Loca Lopez March 2, 2021 at 11:05 pm

    I just hope this actually makes an improvement. My VA is good in some areas, but the time it takes tio get care is ridiculous. I have been going tio the same VA for 15 yrs and I’ve rarely had the same doctor twice. How well can the help a veteran that they don’t even know? I’ve had doctors who were borderline rude, judgemental and one seemed even hostile.
    I have a spinal condition that flared up in mid-November that cause horrible nerve pain in my legs and feet. It’s now March and I just got to go to my first physical therapy treatment. It’s taken over 3 months. To me that is unacceptable. I’ve lived with pain that I would equate the intensity to childbirth. The medicine the gave me is less effective than aspirin. Everything that I’ve researched about my problem says that treatment should start as soon as possible, because after 3 to 6 the damage could be permanent. That means is never be able to walk, sit or drive without excruciating pain.
    Go to any veteran forum and tool l you’ll hear most of us hate the VA and many pay to go to a private doctor to avoid the VA. If I could afford to go somewhere else I’d never go back to the VA.

  30. Jon Wilson March 2, 2021 at 9:12 pm

    My wife is 63 has comorbidties champva why would I rate a covid shot buy she doesn’t? When asked no answer. Huston VA I have been told other VA out reach but not Conroe have vaccine. So customer experience not high trying to get meds that work and feeling that I must keep an outside policy for when I need care. You have far to go to give a world class experience. Talk is cheep.

    • Clifford Hilbert March 3, 2021 at 10:41 am

      It sounds like you hi yo the Dallas VA which had the rudest, nastiest, incompetent so-called doctors I’ve ever encountered. The worst doctor is Inder Kurana at the Plano Clinic. There are some excellent docs at the VA, but very very few. The executives at the Dallas VA only care about numbers and how they look, they certainly don’t care about the vets.

  31. SW March 2, 2021 at 5:36 pm

    Kyle is absolutely correct. The va is NOT doing what it needs to to protect our PII and is blatantly violating it’s obligations under the CFR. That started with the kiosks they insisted we check in on and has now moved to insisting we do their jobs on our personal computers without them providing us with any form of identity protection. Here’s an article for Kyle and anyone who is interested in the subject of just how protected the va keeps our personal information.
    There is no “quality” in the care we receive. va video connect is ridiculous, my appointments usually end being telephone appointments BEFORE they are even half way through. Either that or the video messes up so badly that neither my provider or I can see each other. Prosthetics doesn’t do anything, they don’t provide any type of equipment anymore. Nobody can be seen in person anymore. And don’t even get me started on the “new and improved, streamlined” travel reimbursement program they have. That ONLY takes 60 days to get travel paid to veterans for traveling to appointments, especially when going to community care appointments. Speaking of which, how is being farmed out to the community considered the va providing quality care unless it’s their half handed way of admitting they don’t have any qualified doctors?????

  32. KYLE B THERIOT March 2, 2021 at 2:17 pm

    I’ve been using the VA for 8 years now and over that time there has been great improvement. My biggest concern is in regard to protecting Veteran’s personal information. Every letter I get in the mail has my full name, DOB, and SSN plastered on just about every document. Something needs to be done about this sooner rather than later.

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