VA’s next customer experience evolution will bring comprehensive earned-benefits and services directly to Veterans in their community instead of VA waiting for Veterans to come to VA.
We piloted one-stop, VA, all-access events in 2019 and moved to virtual events in 2020 in response to COVID-19. The results: Veterans can have their claims approved, get enrolled in health care, and sign up for community services within days – and in some cases, even hours.
- A Veteran who attended the Jacksonville, Florida, Virtual Veterans Experience Action Center (V-VEAC) never realized he was eligible for VA health care. He was immediately seen virtually by a VA physician and determined to have urgent medical needs. VA coordinated a medical rescue and the Veteran is now enrolled in VA health care, even connected with home-based care resources.
- A severely disabled Colorado Veteran had been repeatedly denied for compensation of disabilities he incurred on duty, but was at his wits end on what to do. During the V-VEAC, a VA employee spoke with him at length over the phone to record all his conditions and claims. His regional benefits office was later able to grant him 100% service connection and authorized an auto and housing adaption grant.
- A homeless Veteran from New Orleans with two small children attended a V-VEAC. Within a day, she had housing and was enrolled in VA resources, including working with a VA case manager for additional assistance.
From the four Virtual Veterans Experience Action Centers pilots in 2020, VA and community partners were able to connect with more than 1,700 Veterans to offer immediate VA and community resources. By hosting these events in partnership with state Veterans departments and agencies and community partners, Veterans find and connect to local, state, non-profit, and a federal community network.
By assembling all VA and local community partners in one place, Veterans are triaged and on-boarded immediately to meet their needs. VA, State, and community partners share in the combined outreach and reduce competition amongst each other, placing the customer’s needs above all.
These events were also compliment with virtual Q&As via RallyPoint. For example, the Pennsylvania Q&A was viewed by 16K and resulted in 233 questions and answers from PA VA Medical Directors, PA Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, and VA benefits experts to name a few. The RallyPoint events provided VA and community partners an opportunity to connect virtually with 61,680 Veterans and their families.
Catering to Veterans and their families all at once during these events has proven to change lives, but it’s also efficient for all organizations involved. Once enrolled, most Veterans report their experience as positive – but access for those not yet enrolled continues to be challenging. The V-VEACs bridge an important gap between and our customers, and their experiences skyrocket as a result.
VA has made significant improvements to customer experience with programs, such as 1-800-MyVA411 (access to all VA contact centers), the VA Welcome Kit (clear and easy guides to VA resources), and #VetResources newsletter (weekly updates on VA and non-VA resources). But V-VEACs brings customer service to a new level.
Imagine on-boarding Veterans a community at a time, with the ongoing partnership of all VA offices, state and local agencies, community non-profits, VSOs and private sector collaboration. Together we will connect with those most hard to reach and provide them the care and benefits assistance they earned and deserve.
Lynda C. Davis is VA’s chief Veteran Experience Officer.