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VA staffing new White House VA Hotline Principally with Veterans

August 11, 2017, 04:59:00 PM

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VA staffing new White House VA Hotline Principally with Veterans

Today the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced that the two-month pilot phase of the new White House VA Hotline that began in June has demonstrated that Veterans calling the hotline respond best when their calls are answered by fellow Veterans and others with first-hand experience on their issues.

As a result, VA announced that it will target highly qualified Veterans to staff the hotline going forward, instead of contracting the service to a third-party vendor, and is hiring additional VA personnel to complete the planned move to a 24-hour operation.

“The message we’ve heard loud and clear is Veterans want to talk to other Veterans to help them solve problems and get VA services,” said VA Secretary David J. Shulkin. “We’re taking steps to answer that call.”

This decision will delay the full-time stand-up of the 24-hour service by two months, to no later than October 15, in order to ensure the hiring and training processes are complete.

Until that time, the hotline’s current pilot program service is available to receive calls from Veterans from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.


Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs

MSPB forces VA to take back fired official, VA exploring all options under new accountability authorities

August 9, 2017, 02:08:00 PM

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MSPB forces VA to take back fired official,

VA exploring all options under new accountability authorities

On August 2, the Vice Chairman of the federal Merit Systems Protection Board ordered a stay of VA’s removal of the former director of the Washington, D.C. VA Medical Center.

MSPB’s stay order requires VA to return Brian Hawkins, fired on July 28, to work pending the Office of Special Counsel’s review of Hawkins’ claim that he was wrongly terminated.

VA has complied with the order and returned Hawkins to the payroll, but to an administrative position at the VA headquarters in Washington rather than to a patient-care position at the VA Medical Center.

“No judge who has never run a hospital and never cared for our nation’s Veterans will force me to put an employee back in a position when he allowed the facility to pose potential safety risks to our Veterans,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “Protecting our Veterans is my most important responsibility.”

The stay order came one day after the VA Office of Inspector General (VAOIG) issued a new report finding that Hawkins violated VA policy by sending sensitive VA information from his work email to unsecured private email accounts belonging to him and his wife.

VA will quickly make an assessment of Mr. Hawkins’ employment using the new evidence and armed with the new authorities recently provided by the VA Accountability Act signed into law by President Trump in June.

Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs

VA Secretary Shulkin to keynote health-care and technology Demo Day at Georgetown University

August 7, 2017, 12:03:00 PM

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VA Secretary Shulkin to keynote health-care and technology Demo Day at Georgetown University

100 presenters will show how innovations improve Veterans’ lives


WASHINGTON — VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin will be the featured speaker at VA’s annual health-care and technology Innovation Demo Day, to be held Aug. 8 at Georgetown University’s Lohrfink Auditorium.

Organized by VA’s Center for Innovation (VACI), Demo Day will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and provides a platform for 100 innovators to share highlights about projects they have created to improve the lives of Veterans.

“This forum is essential to finding new ways to improve the lives of those who have served, and why it’s critical to tap into the remarkable wealth of creative and technological ideas of our VA employees,” Dr. Shulkin said. “Innovations that have transformed health care, such as the implantable cardiac pacemaker, the nicotine patch and the first successful liver transplant, were developed by employees and inspired by the needs of our Veterans.”

This year’s Demo Day presentations include: a Self-Leveling Walker that will help Veterans with orthopedic injuries or movement difficulties independently and safely negotiate stairs and inclines; a 3-D-Printed Upper Extremity Orthotics (Braces and Splints) project; and an Opioid Buyback Program, which offers financial reimbursement to Veterans who return unused medication to a VA pharmacy for proper disposal.

So far, 21 of 33 projects from the 2016 Demo Day have been successfully implemented. Of those, six innovators will return this year to share results from their original presentation, as well as unveil the next phase in their plans.

Demo Day will take place at booths on site and also will be live-streamed. To register for the event, go to

Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs

VA Extends Funding to Groups Impacted By Grant and Per Diem Program Changes

August 4, 2017, 06:06:00 PM

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 VA Extends Funding to Groups Impacted By Grant and Per Diem Program Changes

One-Year Extension Gives Groups Time to Improve Programs

WASHINGTON — Today, VA Secretary David J. Shulkin announced an extension of funding to organizations that applied for Fiscal Year 2018 grants under VA’s Homeless Providers’ Grant and Per Diem Program, but would be found ineligible due to new program guidelines.

The extension will give those organizations a chance to improve the effectiveness of their programs and an opportunity to apply for funding under an upcoming “notice of funding.”

In a Dec. 23, 2016, Federal Register notice, VA announced it would end per diem payments for all grantees that received awards from VA for fiscal years 1994 to 2016, and that all interested grant programs would have to reapply under updated requirements and acceptance criteria included in the notice. The change allows VA to update itstwo-decades-old program, which relied on transitional housing for homeless Veterans, to one that equips homeless Veterans with what they need to find permanent housing and independence.

“Our previous Grant and Per Diem Program offered Veterans temporary shelter,” Dr. Shulkin said. “We want our Veterans to have a permanent home. To do that, our homeless programs staff is dedicated to making sure the services and grants we provide to prevent Veteran homelessness are appropriate and based on current needs and approaches.”

A letter will be sent shortly to programs affected by the new guidelines. The letter will provide a randomly generated number, so applicants may review their score in relation to the scores of all other applications, while offering them a one-year extension that allows them to continue operations and improve their application for future Grant and Per Diem Program funding. The Fiscal Year 2018 Grant and Per Diem Program awards to successful grantees will be made in September.

Information about the Grant and Per Diem Program may be found at Information about the changes to the program may be found here. Information about VA’s homeless programs is available at







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