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Veterans Affairs in the Digital Age

Part 3 of the Transitioning to VA series

Health care, home loans, life insurance, educational assistance and vocational rehabilitation are just some of the services the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has to offer. With VA offering so many programs, veterans may feel overwhelmed by such a large amount of helpful information. VA is working to make it easier for veterans to find out how and where to access these services through new and effective communication tools, including social media and a new national outreach campaign.

This is the third article in our three-part series on how to ease the transition to veteran status.  While the first two articles addressed frequently asked questions and offered helpful information about many of the VA services listed above, this final article discusses the changes you’ll start to see when communicating with VA.  Read part one, an overview of veterans health benefits, and part two, which covers compensation, pension and vocational rehabilitation, for additional transition information.

Changing the Way Veterans Interact with VA

“Our top priority is getting the right information to the right veteran at the right time,” said VA Director of New Media Brandon Friedman, who is changing the way VA interacts with veterans. The VA page on Facebook and Twitter account are two of the tools he’s using to help VA become more transparent and reinforce their commitment to customer service.

But if you are a veteran, you can expect more than just receiving information through social media sites. You can also engage with VA using tools like Facebook and Twitter to get important information, relevant news, answers to questions, and assistance in getting issues resolved. Ultimately, the objective for VA is to develop a system for receiving feedback, determine who needs to hear it, and take necessary action.

One of the ways VA has already done this is by acknowledging that many veterans want to access information at the local level. To assist with this, VA is establishing a social media presence for each VA facility that will provide community-level information to veterans. In fact, VA created Facebook pages for each of its 152 medical centers nationwide, in addition to 64 Twitter feeds, a YouTube channel, a Flickr page and the "VAntage Point" blog.1Try finding your closest VA medical facility on Facebook, or find their contact information using the VA facility locator today.

Reaching Transitioning Veterans

So far, the response to VA use of social media has been positive. The VA page on Facebook has a large subscribership that continues to grow at a rapid pace. VA posts reach thousands of Facebook users daily. 

VA recognizes that service members moving from active duty to veteran status face unique challenges when it comes to navigating the system. In addition to the readjustment to civilian life, they transition from a DoD system of care to VA, which has its own set of programs, procedures and intricacies. To make this switch easier on new veterans, VA is actively working to connect its services and simplify the information they deliver.

Make the Connection is a VA campaign designed to connect veterans and their family members with other veterans to share experiences and connect with information and resources to help them confront the challenges of transitioning service, face health issues or navigate the complexities of daily life as a civilian.2

"VA is leveraging this powerful connection using an approachable online resource that links veterans to personal stories from their peers, to VA resources and support and to reliable information about mental health and resilience," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric. K. Shinseki.2

What Lies Ahead

VA is embracing technology in other ways to simplify veterans’ access to care and use of services, with initiatives such as electronic health records, online benefits access (eBenefits) and mobile applications such as PTSD Coach developed in partnership with the National Center for Telehealth and Technology.

As VA continues to transform the way it interacts with veterans and their families, you can expect to see new ways VA will reach out to – and take feedback from – veterans. Be on the lookout and be sure to “like” VA on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter.

Sources

1VA Launches Facebook Pages for All 152 Medical Centers,” Department of Veterans Affairs. Published Dec. 21, 2011.
2VA Introduces Make the Connection: Shared Experiences and Support for Veterans,” Department of Veterans Affairs. Published Nov. 14, 2011.

Last Reviewed: 10/17/13
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