Many people would like to forget 2021. It was a tough year, but a lot of good happened, too, especially at VA. The department is committed to making 2022 even better, and to do that, we’re taking a quick look back at what it accomplished and how it served Veterans in 2021.
Keeping Vets healthy
The COVID-19 pandemic entered year two. As the largest integrated health care system in the world, VA administered 8.9 million vaccine doses (including boosters) to more than 4.1 million people; administered 3.6 million COVID-19 tests; and conducted 12.7 million COVID-19 virtual screenings.
But it wasn’t just the pandemic. VA conducted over 112 million clinical encounters, including 6.1 million in-person appointments, while also submitting 2.3 million community care referrals.
How did we do? VA received over 1.9 million survey responses and 450,000+ text responses, and the verdict is clear: a 90.1% trust score in VA health care and an overall 76% trust score means that Veterans overwhelmingly support and use VA.
Delivering the goods
On the non-health benefits side, VA delivered. Dedicated employees (many of whom are Veterans themselves, or are related to Vets) worked through pandemic restrictions to complete 1.4 million compensation and pension claims; the Board of Veterans Appeals held over 27,000 hearings and made nearly 93,000 decisions.
Veterans didn’t stop buying homes in 2021, and they didn’t let the pandemic stop them from using their hard-earned education benefits. VA guaranteed more than 1.2 million home loans, processed 3.3 million education claims, 73,000 insurance claims, and over 16,000 VR&E packets.
And when it came time for the final honor, VA interred more than 146,000 Veterans and family members.
Veterans increasingly know where and how to find VA news and information. In 2021, there were 110 million email opens, and over 105 million visits to www.va.gov; 15 million visitors read daily news and stories and updates published on VAntage Point, the official VA blog for Veterans, dependents and survivors.
And, the mission to provide even more benefits and care and services never ends. VA is the second largest federal employer of Veterans (behind DoD), and 2021 saw 115,000 new VA employees, among them many Veterans and their dependents.
Feb. 8: Denis McDonough sworn in as 11th Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Feb. 17: VA administers 1 million COVID-19 vaccination doses.
Feb. 18: VA extended suspension of debt collection from all Veteran benefit overpayments and medical copayments during the pandemic period.
Feb. 23: VA launched a health equity review of all policies regarding care and services provided to LGBTQ+ Veterans.
March 13: SAVE LIVES Act became law, allowing VA to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to all Veterans, their spouses, and caregivers.
April 14: VA established 120-day task force on inclusion, diversity, equity, and access after ensuring Veteran organizations representing women, minority, and LGBTQ+ Veterans provided input on the 2022-28 VA strategic plan.
April 30: VA improved the management of suicide prevention efforts, ensuring 1,400+ employees and $300M+ are focused on achieving better outcomes for Veterans and their families.
May 4: VA opened new rapid retraining program for thousands of Veterans who lost jobs due to pandemic.
June 4: VA sees trust improve by 24% in five years.
July 26: VA issues vaccine mandate for health care workers, a first for a federal agency.
Sept. 8: VA annual report showed decrease in Veteran suicides.
Sept. 15: VA and DHS host COVID-19 vaccine clinic for deported Veterans at the San Ysidro Border Crossing.
Oct. 27: VA extends presumptive period for Persian Gulf War Veterans.
Nov. 23: VA and Indian Health Service broaden scope to serve American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans.
Dec. 27: VA Trust report shows majority of Veterans trust VA
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