Modernize Government to Support Today’s Veterans
Why is a modern VA important?
Millions of veterans rely on VA for both health care and benefits. Ensuring that the system is able and agile enough to accommodate the millions of veterans who use its services is paramount to ensuring the lasting success and health of the veteran population.
Independent reviews of VA health care support that the care is as good, if not better, than the private sector. A bold approach to ensuring today’s veterans have a system willing to bend and adapt to them will take the full coordination of the executive branch and Congress, along with stakeholder partners in state and local governments, and the private and nonprofit sectors. We need a system that leverages the use of new technologies to streamline processes and enables VA to take a more dynamic approach to respond to the needs of today’s veterans. Even so, the best technology will not save a system if it is built upon outdated structures. VA must connect its internal departments and work with DoD to streamline services.
Why is an outmoded VA a problem?
A government still stuck in the 20th century is trying to meet the demands of today’s new generation of veterans. Despite enormous efforts over the last 10 years, too many veterans are still waiting too long for decisions on their disability claims; at the end of 2014, more than 242,000 veterans were stuck in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) backlog. Roughly 60 percent of new veterans are enrolled in VA care, and those that are often face long wait times for appointments. Others are simply lost in the cracks—between the the Department of Defense (DoD) and the VA, or between state, local, nonprofit and private services.
Is anyone actually using VA?
About 48% of all veterans and about 55% of post-9/11 era veterans are enrolled in VA care. Among IAVA member survey respondents, 84% are enrolled in VA health care, and the vast majority have sought care from VA in the last year. Of these VA users, 86% rated their experience at VA as average or above average. IAVA members have been clear that access to VA care can be challenging, but once in the system, they prefer that care.
What is IAVA doing about this issue?
IAVA is working with Legislators to ensure the health of servicemembers and veterans. Our recommendations for the 116th Congress are:
- Ensure VA is Protected and Supported
- Modernize VA’s Technological Infrastructure to Support the Post-9/11 Generation
- Seamlessly Transfer Care from DoD to VA
- Improve Government Outreach to Veterans
- Defend Troops Against Military Sexual Assault and Support Survivors of Military Sexual Trauma
- Combat Harassment in VA Facilities
- End the VA Backlog
- Invest in Innovative Health Care for Veterans
Most Importantly, We're Winning
How is IAVA making progress toward these goals?
- August 23, 2017: Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act passed into law
- August 12, 2017: the VA Choice Program was extended
- June 23, 2017: VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act and VA Accountability First Act passed into law
IAVA's Big 6
As a direct result of our Annual Membership Survey, IAVA has focused on the six biggest issues facing veterans today. Learn more about our other issues.
More about Modernizing VA
Over the past few years, VA has made incredible strides in modernizing its operating systems both internally and externally. The plan currently underway to bridge VA and DoD medical records, replacing a decades-old electronic medical record system, and updating VA.gov to be more interactive and intuitive are among the significant accomplishments that have been in the works for years. A system slowly but surely moving into the 21st century is a win for all veterans.