Veterans Day should be a call to action for all Americans to serve those who have served, VA Secretary Denis McDonough said Nov. 9 during a National Press Club event in Washington, D.C.

While acknowledging Veterans Day is a day to honor Veterans and their sacrifice, McDonough said it’s a day to fulfill a solemn obligation.

“For most Americans listening today, it can mean something as simple as reaching out to the Vets in their lives and lending a hand,” the secretary said. “And at VA, it means providing Veterans with world-class health care; with the benefits they have earned and so rightly deserve; and with a lasting resting place that is a tribute to their service. The point is that we all have a part to play, no matter who we are or what position we hold.”

He asked everyone to renew their commitment to serving Veterans and serving them well, adding, “because that’s our most sacred responsibility, on this Veterans Day and every day.”

Next, McDonough reported that VA is “laser-focused” on ending Veterans’ homelessness. One moment earlier this summer stood out to him, at a homeless Vets vaccination event outside VA headquarters in Washington, D.C., when a Veteran came to get his shot. The Veteran wasn’t wearing shoes, so he received both a vaccine and a new pair of shoes from the Veterans Canteen Service staff.

“On the one hand, the story is heartwarming – a job well done,” he said. “On the other, it’s heartbreaking. That man served our country. He should have shoes on his feet. He should have a roof over his head. In fact, there should be no such thing as a homeless Veteran. Not here. Not in the greatest country in the world. So I assure you: We will do whatever it takes to get this country’s 40,000 homeless Veterans into homes – and to keep them there.”

McDonough also acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic has been “devastating for all of us.” While most people are focusing on getting back to normal, VA will not go back to pre-pandemic ways of doing business.

“But at VA, there is no going back to the old normal because the work we’ve done to respond to the pandemic has forged us into a stronger and better department for our nation’s Veterans,” he said. “Tele-health, tele-appeals for your claims, the Veterans Legacy Memorial, and our new VA mobile app are allowing us to meet Vets where they want, when they want, in unprecedented ways. Outpatient trust scores for Vets in our outpatient care rose to 90% this year – which, in my mind, should be the floor not the ceiling. We’ve seen more patients and held more benefits hearings than in any previous year in VA history – a result of our goal to make sure Vets get their care and benefits on time, every time.”

That new normal also extends to mental health services. VA’s focus on these services will continue to keep Veterans going during the pandemic. In 2021, Veterans have attended 5.6 million tele-mental health sessions, more than double that of 2020. VA will continue to provide world-class service like this and the secretary will keep fighting for Veterans.

“On this Veterans Day and every day, I promise to fight like hell for the Vets who have fought for us,” he added.

Watch the event

A note to America’s Veterans, their families, survivors on the situation in Afghanistan from VA Secretary Denis McDonough.Statement from VA Secretary Denis McDonough on the passing of former VA Administrator Max Cleland
Veterans Day 2021 will be extra special for 12 military members, who will celebrate it as U.S. citizens for the first time following a ceremony Nov. 9.Veterans Day extra special for new U.S. citizens

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15 Comments

  1. Gregory Hartz December 1, 2021 at 5:39 pm - Reply

    In my VA online recovery group today, facilitator stated, “you can lead a horse to water, but not make it drink”…. I called her out on this posture to no avail… This is about the most malinformed statement by an LCSW I have heard to date. Guess she never pondered that the water being lead to is poison or there are may flavors of water? Seems as if she feels substance abuse only manifests as substance abuse, not underlying causes; ie Mental Health issues…Why do I subject myself to this singleminded treatment?? The VA needs to start trials for Cannabis, Ketamine, and other Psychedelics.? And the VA is bewilder to the stat of 22 PD.

  2. Chad Childers November 19, 2021 at 3:50 pm - Reply

    It really hit home reading the part of the article about homeless veterans. This is a subject near and dear to my heart. At one point in time I was homeless for over 9 months. It was such a horrible feeling of helplessness. Being an Army veteran for the longest time I was way too prideful to seek help.

    Pride prevents a lot of homeless veterans from seeking help. Ending the homeless veteran issue should be a top priority of the government.

  3. Hunter November 17, 2021 at 5:14 am - Reply

    “world-class healthcare”? Thats not what I am hearing…

  4. Joe Hayes November 16, 2021 at 11:33 am - Reply

    World class health care begins with having someone answer the damn phones in a timely manor at the Atlanta VA! Why must someone wait 15 plus minutes for an operator to direct your call? Why not have a COMPLETE phone directory listed on their website, rather than just a partial one? Something SO SIMPLE could save a lot of frustrations amongst us Vets.
    And Mental Health? I have given up on any help from the VA after reaching out no fewer than 5, yes 5 times for mental help services. I was told by a VA Doctor that I should seek help in the private sector since I have Medicare. Is the attitude to have with a Veteran that’s @ 100% with PTSD? What do the civilian doctors know about this and why should I have to pay for it? You tell me where “World Class Service” fits in, because it sure as hell isn’t in Atlanta.

  5. Latta's bain November 16, 2021 at 11:29 am - Reply

    John that is fantastic and I used to as well right up to the point I reported physician misconduct to my congressman after patient advocates and the service chief acknowledged the malpractice but refused to take any action. That landed me as well as lot of others on the VISN 10 denial of care list.

    I have heard horror stories of Vets regarding bad actors at VAs that I just didn’t believe, never again. The most bothersome thing is many want to fix it but leadership and labor crush any whistleblowers. There is essentially no level of misconduct short of murder in systems like VISN10 that will lead to leadership’s removal of that provider to include complete abandonment of patients safety and greavence requirements.

  6. Carl D. Mervyn November 14, 2021 at 11:51 am - Reply

    The Veterans are being rob by the VA. The VA’s policies is to steal from the poor ( Veterans) and give to the rich (interns). There is no just a thing called Doctor patients confidentiality policies at the VA. Any Jack or Jill who wants to go into your most private records can. Interns can lie to the Veterans and present themselves as full fledged Dr’s and the VA believes this is a great idea.

  7. Ash November 12, 2021 at 10:31 am - Reply

    I have been on a list for “approval” of a consult from my PM & R doctor for over 6 months. My physician of choice is in the Community Care program and I have seen him before previously as part of the Choice Program, however I cannot get an appointment made without “approval” of my consult from Community Care. 6 MONTHS!!! I have called, my VA doctor has emailed and called. Nothing.

    I have also been trying to get a hearing for an injury that occurred while on active duty that is well documented from active duty and hence on… nothing. DAV is great and is wonderful for patient advocates, but the VA system itself remains broken. There are a few good doctors in the midst of all the bad doctors, but many of the folks you talk to on the phone are incredibly rude and have no empathy. Meanwhile we suffer trying to get appointments made and trying to get hearings and medications.

    Definitely not “world-class healthcare”.

  8. BECKY L CROSS November 11, 2021 at 9:15 pm - Reply

    I sent a picture of the latest injury I have had from falling to 3 different VA personnel, none of which cared enough to reply. The following VA pdf handout (https://www.va.gov/…/talkingWithVeteranInCrisisHandout.pdf
    ) states signs of distress are the veteran crying, loud, and yelling. Also that if they are not suicidal, homicidal, or in crisis to refer them to the appropriate local resources. I have cried, yelled, cursed. I have stated I am struggling and suffering. I have provided the photograph of the injury from falling. I have specifically said if neither of the last two personnel were going to do anything to help me, the least they could do is refer me to someone who would. No reply. Why don’t you tell the truth? You could care less about the veterans you are supposed to serve.

  9. John C Hudson November 11, 2021 at 5:28 pm - Reply

    I am John C. Hudson
    I am a proud Vietnam Veteran and I have received great Care at the VA.

  10. Jose g. Rendon November 11, 2021 at 11:33 am - Reply

    This country says it supports the veterans, but people do not the one’s that do not want to serve in the military. But that’s our freedom of choice, but it is OK, I did my time, saw things, had to things, I felt old at twenty, after that did say mush what for. If you did not see, smelled,and feel,

  11. Charlie Offerman November 11, 2021 at 11:30 am - Reply

    So when are you going to replace the LPN’s and PA’s with real Doctors so we Veterans can get the proper medical care we are paying for.

  12. Patrick Hunter November 11, 2021 at 10:06 am - Reply

    Mr Secretary that all sounds great, but what about parts of the VA that are pushing us towards possible homelessness.
    The Pandemic is still going on and inflation is skyrocketing, but now for the first time, I am getting bills from the VA and Treasury saying they are going to be taking 1/5 of my Social Security Disability benefits starting next month! If that happens Sir, I WILL BE HOMELESS AGAIN!

    I have tried to get answers and help, but NOBODY gives a $hit.

  13. Leif Dumm November 11, 2021 at 12:30 am - Reply

    Looks great on paper, but we have seen this before. Action is what we need, not words. And still waiting six to eight months for an appointment. I do not know what is worst, the VA Hospital or a doctor’s office in Miami, FL.

  14. Patricia L Russell November 10, 2021 at 11:27 pm - Reply

    World class health care??!!????? Must be joking…right???

  15. Noe Puga November 10, 2021 at 8:13 pm - Reply

    I have called many entities claiming to help veterans, families of veterans. They don’t call me back or they will say sorry but they can’t help me or I don’t meet the requirements to help me.
    Most government entities just like Mr. McDonough have said the same thing “served to those that fought for us”
    I have an issue with a public servant for Cameron County abusing of his power.
    I have being fighting with them for more then a year with no positive results.

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