45,390 American adults died from suicide in 2017, including 6,139 U.S. Veterans. Our nation is understandably grieving with each suicide, prompting our collective and tireless pursuit of evidence-based clinical interventions and expansion of community prevention strategies to reach each Veteran.
As part of recent efforts to support Veterans in crisis, VA is using artificial intelligence (AI) systems capabilities leveraged by customer feedback industry best practices in partnership with Booz Allen Hamilton, Deloitte, Medallia, and Halfaker to detect and respond to Veterans in crisis.
Starting in fall 2017, VA began digitally collecting customer feedback from Veterans receiving VA services and VA digital properties in the Veterans Signals (VSignals) program. Since then, Veterans have responded with more than 4.2 million surveys, including more than 1.6 million free-text comments. This feedback is accessible to VA employees across the country for action, often prompting customer service efforts and influencing VA decision making.
Veteran feedback is also used to measure trust in VA; as of November 5, 2019, Veterans measured Veterans Health Administration Outpatient Care trust at 87.8%. A recent Partnership for Public Service study credited VA for its mature customer experience data program an essential indicator to VA’s customer experience improvements.
How it works for Veterans in crisis
The artificial intelligence systems capabilities developed by the Veterans Experience Office (VEO) searches through Veteran survey responses in real-time and highlights Veterans that may be in crisis. Crisis alerts are routed to the VA National Call Center for Homeless Veterans (NCCHV), Veteran Crisis Line (VCL), or other various VA offices that can offer assistance. This system has already engaged and led to early intervention for more than 1,400 Veterans in need to provide them assistance within minutes of the alert.
VA is listening to Veterans, families, caregivers, and survivors – and taking action. VA is committed to providing assistance to Veterans who may be in need of support. It’s our hope that Veterans will continue to seek assistance using all the resources made available to them, both in their local communities and nationally through the VA. As this program continues to grow, VA is optimistic that technology like this will elevate efforts to support and assist the Veterans in crisis across the country.
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.