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INtegrating VEteran Services Together: A program for improving VA workforce morale and reconnecting VA employees with America's heroes. Presented by the INVESTORS (Excellence in Government Fellows, Fall 2015-2016).

Joseph Marshall

on 25 August 2016

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Transcript of INVEST

Government-wide average
satisfaction score = 60

VA scores
2011 = 64
2012 = 59
2013 = 59
2014 = 57

VA is tied for fifth lowest among large federal departments.

Source: 2015 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey Report
recruitment flyers
Patient Experience Liaisons
Hospital Tour:
Prosthetics Lab
Rehab swimming pool
Outdoor garden


the Investors
Vijayakumar Bekkem, Richard Johnson, Kelli Hutchins,
Joseph Marshall, Judy Slivka, Rebecca Roose


Engagement Matters
It is beyond basic job satisfaction. Engaged employees find personal meaning in their work,
take pride in what they do and where they do it,
and having the feeling that their organization values them. The greater an employee’s engagement, the more likely the employee will go above and beyond the minimum required and expend discretionary effort to provide excellent

Source: The Power of Federal
Employee Engagement; U.S.
Merit Systems Protection Board
(September, 2008)
Employees who do not routinely work with veterans, will report higher levels of connection to agency mission and higher levels of satisfaction by interacting with veterans in customer (e.g., patient) settings.
Measuring Results
Surveys of Veterans Engagement Day Participants
Immediately after
2 month follow-up

Observational Notes
Preliminary Data
Similar proposal in myVA Idea House: Connect with Vets
2016 project scoping survey: 25 of 30 VA employees were interested in veterans engagement activities.
Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center
May 24, 2016
Objective: Have 25 employees interact with veterans in a day full of activities at Cleveland's VA medical center.
VA partners
Medical Center Director
Medical Media
Patient Experience Liaison Group
Day Hospital
Peer Support
& Contracting
About Louis Stokes Cleveland VAMC

Serves 24
counties in
NE Ohio.

2013 figures
Veteran Population in NE Ohio: 344,941
Veteran Enrollees: 133,959
Admissions: 11,219
Outpatient Encounters: 1,763,962
Women Veterans Served: 7,209
OIF/OEF Veterans Served: 12,518
Medical Center Employees: 4,663
Each participant was to learn the name and story of at least one veteran they met that day and share what they learned in a group discussion at the end of the day.
Guest Speakers
Being a veteran myself, I opened up to someone who understood my military experience. It was something only a veteran would understand and it was great to have this opportunity.
I now can put specific faces on those that I’m dedicated to serve. These people deserve my best and that’s what they will continue to get.
This experience made me realize I should enjoy time with the patients more. I really enjoyed this day of learning.
My job is so removed from direct care, but today helped me see the end result, which helped me understand how I can improve what I do.
Conclusion: Survey and observational evidence support the hypothesis. Interaction led to measurable increases in commitment and satisfaction for employees who already reported higher than average satisfaction.

Small sample
Pre-interaction survey results indicate that the prototype group was more satisfied than the average for Cleveland VAMC.

the plan
3 groups; 3 different sets of interactions
Psychological Rehabilitation and Recovery Center
An outpatient multidisciplinary treatment program that provides mental health services for veterans suffering from severe and persistent mental illness (e.g., schizophrenia, schizoaffective mood disorder, bipolar disorder, major affective disorder, and PTSD) with significant functional impairment.
Community Resource and Referral Centers
Providing veterans who are homeless and at risk of homelessness with one-stop access to community-based, multiagency services to promote permanent housing, health and mental health care, career development and access to VA and non-VA benefits.
Non-clinical staff who are tasked with helping improve the experience of veterans in inpatient and outpatient areas including inpatient medical and surgical units. The Patient Experience Liaisons check in with veterans to ask if they are doing OK and see if they are having any service issues or questions. The Patient Experience Liaisons connect the veterans with problem-solvers such as Nurse Managers and Peer Support Specialists.
Veterans / VA employees share what the VA has done for them and what they are doing for veterans.
Intensive, time limited, outpatient psychiatric treatment for veterans who have serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and major depression. Group therapy and individual counseling sessions are provided. Participants attend daily from 9 AM until 3:30, Monday through Friday over a 4 week period. Emphasis is on providing a structured, therapeutic environment that encourages personal development and group support.
A CLC used to be called a nursing home but unlike many nursing homes, a CLC resembles "home" as much as possible. There are activities for Veterans of
all ages. There are family friendly places for visiting.
Veterans are invited to decorate their rooms. And, pets are allowed to visit or live in the CLC.

Veterans may stay for a short time or, in rare instances, for the rest of their life. It is a place where Veterans
can receive nursing home level of care, which includes help with activities of daily living and skilled nursing and medical care. The mission of a CLC is to restore each Veteran to his or her highest level of well-being. It is also to prevent declines in health and to provide comfort at the end of life.

Based on VA All Employee Survey Data.

Cleveland VAMC employees have an average overall satisfaction score of 3.77 (on a scale of 1 to 5: 1 being the lowest; 5 being the highest).

A score of 3.5 or better is considered favorable by VA.
Surveys Taken:
2 weeks prior to VED
On VED (after all activities completed)
2 months following VED
Question Types:
5 demographics
8 scored
Strongly Disagree or Very Dissatisfied = 1
Disagree or Dissatisfied = 2
Neutral = 3
Agree or Satisfied = 4
Strongly Agree or Very Satisfied = 5
participant comments:
important lessons:
Veterans Engagement activities, alone, are unlikely to shift an entire organization's morale.
These activities are designed for a sub-set of employees.
Other issues (e.g., compensation, work-life balance, etc.), also impact an individual's assessment of job satisfaction.
lessons learned:

Recruitment was more effective with personal e-mails rather than organization-wide e-mails (which were ignored).

There were a few no-shows, possibly due to the participant's unfamiliarity with the medical center (we could/should have provided better instructions to participants on logistics).

A day full of activities appears to have been just about right. Comments about VED being too long were balanced by comments that it was too short.

as expected, different employees had different levels of comfort in interacting with veterans they didn't know.

facilitators sometimes had to encourage interactions between participants and veterans.

participants seemed to have more satisfactory experiences in their interactions with veterans as opposed to the one activity which did not require interaction with veterans (i.e. the hospital tour).
Creating Opportunities
A Veterans Engagement Guide is available so others can create opportunities for their employees to feel engaged.
for additional information, contact:
When used with other tools, and deployed more broadly, Veterans Engagement activities may result in organizational improvements.
Clinical areas:
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