VA Secretary Speaks at Summit

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald reports that both the number and types of benefits and services has expanded since veterans have many more complex needs and expectations requiring more and more from the VA. He was speaking at the “2015 OSEHRA Open Source Summit held July 29-31, in Bethesda Maryland.

In 1975, there were two million veterans over the age of 65 being treated but by 2017, that number is expected to be near 10 million. This is mainly caused by the fact that the many veterans that served in the Vietnam era will require more and more care in future years.

The aging of the American veteran is causing a number of problems since many service-connected medical and health issues have become more chronic and more acute. In addition, more veterans are surviving wars such as in Iraq and Afghanistan, resulting in more and more injuries that need to be treated. Also, as medical science advances, new problems arise such as helping veterans with PTSD and working with disabled veterans for the duration of their lifetime. 

As the system operates today, statistics show that although seven million completed medical appointments at the VA, more than half of the veterans which is a total of four and one-half million saw doctors outside of the VA and received treatment in their communities. Today, 81 percent of veterans use not only the VA but also use TRICARE, Medicare, and Medicaid.

The Secretary said, “The three main goals at the VA are to provide access to care, deal effectively with the backlog of appointments and claims, and end veteran homelessness. The “MyVA” document recently released in July discusses what must take place to guide the VA’s transformation in future years.

“MyVA” includes specific efforts that are needed to accelerate the transformation of the VA. These efforts center on initial priorities that include improving the veteran’ and employee experience, supporting services excellence, establishing a culture of continuous performance improvement, and developing strategic partnerships.

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