VA celebrates National Patient Ambassador Day Nov. 29, to recognize Red Coat Patient Ambassadors across the country. VA Red Coat Ambassadors recognize the sacrifice of our nation’s heroes and their families and often go the extra mile to make an excellent impression when Veterans visit a VA facility.

National Patient Ambassador Day

Have you ever found yourself feeling anxious about your upcoming doctor’s appointment? A trip to the hospital can be very stressful and confusing, and many patients often experience anxiety upon their arrival. To make matters worse, many of us are guilty of searching our medical symptoms online, and the results are not always helpful – or accurate. Other things may cause anxiety about a doctor’s visit – appointment instructions that are not always understood, health care facilities that can be tricky to navigate, and times when wayfinding is so overwhelming that patients and visitors don’t want to face it alone. That is where our Red Coat Ambassadors can step in.

Red Coat Ambassadors wear a highly visible red coat or vest. They greet and escort Veterans and visitors, providing a personal yet standardized VA experience that includes assistance with navigation, offering information, and providing the necessary support to make a VA visit pleasant and successful. They embody the Patient Experience principles to Connect & Care, Guide the Journey, and Understand & Respond to Needs. Exemplifying these principles helps relieve stress that Veterans or other visitors may feel with a trip to the hospital, which gives us a significant step toward an exceptional experience for everyone who enters a VA facility.

Red Coat Ambassador Highlight

Joseph Buais is a Red Coat Ambassador at the WJB Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia, South Carolina. He has been instrumental in improving the healthcare experience for his fellow Veterans. He collaborated to create a pocket phone roster, resulting in a 70% reduction of late arrivals to appointments. He is also attentive and caring. When a quadriplegic Veteran arrived for his appointment but was not comfortable due to a personal issue, Buais assisted the Veteran in obtaining a fresh set of clothing and a shower. He then escorted the Veteran to his appointment. Buais is the recipient of the 2021 Patient Experience Red Coat Ambassador Award for his countless positive impacts on his fellow Veterans.

Local Facility Events

VA facilities participating in Patient Ambassador Day will be conducting local recognition initiatives. Here are a few examples of celebration events happening at VA facilities during Patient Ambassador Day:

  • Display tables in the front lobby with information on the Red Coat Ambassador Program and ways to sign up/register to support the program.
  • Medical Center leadership will greet and take pictures with the Patient Ambassadors and volunteers in front of the VA Medical Center entrance at 9 a.m. (times may vary).
  • Appreciation breakfast or event at some facilities (coffee, pastries, doughnuts, canteen coupons/certificates).
  • Recognition events/ceremonies for Red Coat Ambassador’s and Volunteers at some facilities.
  • Posting pictures of volunteers and Veterans on local social media sites using the hashtag #VAPatientAmbassadorDay.

You can be a Red Coat Ambassador

Red Coat Ambassadors love helping others, are familiar with the VA campus and can manage conflicts respectfully. We invite you to become a Red Coat Ambassador. Contact your local Development & Civic Engagement (CDCE) Office (formerly Voluntary Service) for more information.

You can support the Red Coat program by sharing program information with Veterans, family members and caregivers. To find a local CDCE Office, visit

We hope to see you on #VAPatientAmbassadorDay, and we hope you consider becoming a Red Coat!

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By VAntage Point Contributor

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Published on Nov. 28, 2021

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