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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.