VA Secretary Robert McDonald Speaks on Veterans' Health Policy


“My VA is about keeping veterans at the table: In control of how, when and where they wish to be served.”

- VA Secretary Robert McDonald

“My VA” is how Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald described his ideal standard of care when speaking today about his vision for an accessible, modern and integrated VA at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Watch the full video with Q & A here.

McDonald’s long-term goals for the VA include:

  1. Improve veteran experience: Same-day access to care, strong tele-health resources, especially in rural states;
  2. Improve employee experience: A sense of purpose in every employee;
  3. Achieve support services excellence: Be the top customer service organization in the country;
  4. Continually improve: Decrease wait times, expand clinics, prepare to care for more women veterans, gain patient feedback, care for caregivers and families; and
  5. Enhance strategic partnerships: Create one comprehensive network of high-quality care between the VA and community health care, maintain one consistent electronic record inside and outside the VA.

McDonald’s short-term goals go like this:

  1. Improve veteran experience
  2. Increase veteran access to healthcare
  3. Improve community care’s working relationship with the VA
  4. Create a unified veteran experience
  5. Modernize contact centers
  6. Improve compensation exam criteria
  7. Simplify the appeals process
  8. Reduce veteran homelessness
  9. Improve employee experience
  10. Staff critical vacant positions
  11. Transform the Office of Information and Technology
  12. Consolidate the supply chain to reduce costs


According to McDonald, the president’s fiscal 2017 budget request reflects these priorities. Congress, he said, must fully fund the VA for changes to be made. If funds are cut, veteran care will suffer.

NGAUS fights every day for benefits for veterans. We will be interested to see how quickly and effectively the VA carries out its goals. NGAUS has worked with the Veterans Affairs Committees of the Senate and House to ensure that important Guard-related provisions are included in the omnibus bills hitting the floors before the end of Congress.

Stay tuned for more information regarding veteran care and health policy changes.

Sarah Sontag is the NGAUS Legislative Administrative Assistant. She is originally from Iowa and has lived in D.C. for three years.

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