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What’s Next with the VA?

One thing that scares me in the realm of change is change within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), but the changes that are upon us are not going to be lumped into that category. IAVA has a deep interest in attempting to make veterans lives better, be it with efforts to change the VA internally, externally, or by partnering with third parties to see things change.

There are some hard hitting improvements that we will begin to see over the next few years that will change the flow of VA healthcare for veterans for the better. The Post-9/11 generation is more tech inclined than previous generations, and we tend to be more engage with the VA via the internet or by smartphone apps. Luckily, the House Veterans Affairs Committee and programs like the Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) has our back, just as IAVA has yours.

In late June 2018, the VA established a new official body, the Office of Electronic Health Records Modernization (OEHRM). This office will be responsible for transitioning the current state of medical records from hard-paper copy to a new electronic format.

This system will benefit our nation’s veterans greatly as it will make transitioning out of the service and into VA care easier. The contract will run through a company known as Cerner, which is adopting the same Electronic Records program used by the Department of Defense (DoD). Since VA and DOD will both be using the same system, the two databases will be able to communicate with each other, allowing doctors to have seamless access across both platforms to enable them to provide the best care possible. Ideally, this modernization of medical records will seamlessly transfer records from active/inactive servicemembers straight into veteran life. From my experience with separation from the United States Air Force, tracking down my paper medical records was an absolute pain, something I wouldn’t wish for anyone else to experience. It’s exciting to see this long-discussed change take place.

To oversee the forthcoming years, the House Veterans Affairs Committee established a new Subcommittee on Technological Modernization on July 12. With expansions of electronic records and technological advances such as applications and websites like vets.gov. This subcommittee will primarily oversee the Electronic Health Records transformation to ensure that taxpayer money is duly spent and provide oversight as the VA moves into the 21st century. The subcommittee will be chaired by Rep. Jim Banks (R-TN), and the Ranking Member will be Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA).

Also, active immediately, veterans across the nation are now able to use the Veterans Crisis Line via voice communication from their smartphones. Apple and Android users alike are able to use voice commands such as ‘call the veterans crisis line’ to connect after a secondary confirmation by hitting the ‘1’ button. This new program will hopefully reduce the 20 veteran daily suicides by enabling those to get the help they deserve in a timely manner, as in these situations sometimes seconds matter. Bottom line: this is great news because the easier these services are to access, the more lives can be SAVED. The operators at the VCL are trained to handle most mental health or related issues.

Overall, the next few years will be something to keep your eyes on. From health records going electronic to new advances in outreach, I think the post-9/11 generation has a lot of powerful advancements on the way as Congress and the VA prepare to transition into the modern era and adapt for the newest generation of America’s veterans.

If you are in need of assistance, our RRRP team is standing by. If you or someone you know is in crisis, support is available 24/7. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available to all at 1-800-273-8255. Veterans, service members, and their families and friends can call the Veterans and Military Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat, or text to 838255.

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