After several reports on the horrendous customer service of the Department of Veterans Affairs toward veterans in 2014, the VA is now celebrating some “good news” on that front for 2015: VA officials have settled on a single map of the United States.
Pop the Champagne for bureaucratic progress!
It should be noted, the Department currently uses at least nine maps of the US, which divides the country into dozens of regional networks and administrative duties for its hundreds of programs.
Later this year, all VA agencies will be on the same page, looking at the same map, coordinating efforts along the newly drawn five regions to allow veterans a single point of entry for a host of office offerings.
However, VA officials skimmed past specific details on what they called "the biggest organizational change in VA history," but said the work will not immediately mean cuts to the 340,000-plus workforce.
The new VA Secretary, Bob McDonald, has touted the MyVA program as an overall push to improve customer service toward veterans by trimming layers of bureaucratic waste and duplication, which has caused many a veteran headaches.
To its credit, the program has improved signage at hospitals and given more independent authority to call center operators on veterans benefits issues. The map change, officials said, could potentially improve communication and coordination between offices that previously had little interaction, creating more one-stop shops for veterans.
But don’t hold your breath quite yet, as details on exactly how this change will all play out won’t be decided for months. (Agreeing on one map was hard enough.)
The Regional Offices, which oversee benefits processing, home loan awards, and health care services, among other items, will each have to decide how to realign their operations in light of the new map.
On a briefing call earlier this week, VA officials said the map announcement was intended to provide an update on the overall MyVA simplification efforts and to reassure veterans that work is taking place.
Secretary McDonald said in a statement that this is the "first step in empowering veterans to interact with one VA" and a way to "improve the veteran experience by enabling veterans to more easily ... access their earned care and benefits."
VA expects to have plans in place to ensure their structures are aligned within the new map by the end of June.
Read more on this story in the Military Times: