VA Deputy Highlights Bond between Defense and Veterans Affairs
October 19, 2009
WASHINGTON - An innovative, far-sighted partnership between the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) will improve the health care system for Veterans and dramatically change the way health care is delivered to all Americans, according to Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs W. Scott Gould.
"The future will see VA and DoD working even closer together," said Gould, "as we fulfill the President's requirement for a single Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record that will support Veterans from their day of induction to their day of interment."
Gould spoke Oct. 15 at the second annual DoD "Breakthrough Convention" devoted to improving business practices in the nation's largest government agency.
Noting that VA's budget requirements are substantially affected by DoD's strategic decisions and operations, he reassured the audience that the President's proposed 2010 budget for VA addresses the issue and builds on increases Congress added to the Department's budget in the last two years.
VA's 2010 budget request for $113 billion would fund increased education benefits for post-9/11 Veterans, health care for some Veterans who were previously ineligible, more mental health and cognitive-injury services -- especially in rural areas -- and upgraded technology for data transmission and records.
Gould said the long-term solution for correcting procedural delays that affect Veterans is to redesign business processes and improve information technology. VA's new strategic plan, he said, is focused on Veterans, with whom VA has an ongoing - sometimes, life-long - relationship.
Employees have a natural desire to achieve client satisfaction, but their ability to act on the desire can be diminished by poor systems, policies or lack of training, Gould said. VA's second-ranking executive credited Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki with providing the leadership to create an organizational culture of performance on behalf of Veterans.