How VA Served Veterans in 2021
A lot of people would like to forget about 2021. It’s been a tough year, but a lot of good has happened too, especially at VA. The department is committed to making 2022 even better, and to do that, we’re taking a quick look at what it has accomplished and how it served veterans in 2021.
Keeping vets healthy
The COVID-19 pandemic has entered year two. As the world’s largest integrated health system, VA has delivered 8.9 million doses of vaccines (including boosters) to more than 4.1 million people; administered 3.6 million COVID-19 tests; and performed 12.7 million COVID-19 virtual screenings.
But it wasn’t just the pandemic. VA has conducted over 112 million clinical encounters, including 6.1 million in-person appointments, while submitting 2.3 million community care referrals.
How did we do it? VA received over 1.9 million survey responses and over 450,000 text responses, and the verdict is clear: a 90.1% confidence score in VA healthcare and an overall confidence score of 76 % means veterans support and use VA heavily.
Deliver the goods
On the non-health benefits side, VA has delivered on its promises. Dedicated employees (many of whom are veterans themselves or are linked to vets) worked through pandemic-related restrictions to fill 1.4 million compensation and pension claims; the Board of Veterans Appeals has held over 27,000 hearings and rendered nearly 93,000 decisions.
Veterans haven’t stopped buying homes in 2021, and they haven’t let the pandemic stop them from using their hard-earned education benefits. VA has guaranteed over 1.2 million home loans, processed 3.3 million education claims, 73,000 insurance claims and over 16,000 VR&E packages.
And when the time for the final honor came, VA buried over 146,000 veterans and their families.
Veterans increasingly know where and how to find VA news and information. In 2021, there were 110 million email openings and over 105 million visits to www.va.gov; 15 million visitors daily read news, stories and updates posted on VAntage Point, VA’s official blog for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors.
And the mission to provide even more benefits, care and service never ends. VA is the second largest federal employer of veterans (behind DoD), and 2021 saw 115,000 new VA employees, including many veterans and their dependents.
February 8: Denis McDonough was sworn in as the 11th Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
February 17: VA administers 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccination.
February 18: VA extended the suspension of debt collection for all overpayments of veterans’ allowances and medical co-payments during the pandemic period.
February 23: VA launched a health equity review of all policies regarding the care and services provided to LGBTQ + veterans.
March 13: The SAVE LIVES law went into effect, allowing VA to provide COVID-19 vaccines to all veterans, their spouses and caregivers.
April 14: VA created a 120-day task force on inclusion, diversity, equity and access after ensuring that veterans organizations representing women, minorities and LGBTQ + veterans contributed to VA’s 2022-2028 strategic plan.
April 30: VA improved the management of suicide prevention efforts, ensuring that more than 1,400 employees and more than $ 300 million are focused on achieving better outcomes for Veterans and their families.
May 4: VA opened a new rapid retraining program for thousands of veterans who have lost their jobs due to a pandemic.
June 4: VA sees confidence improve by 24% in five years.
July 26: VA issues vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, a first for a federal agency.
September 8: VA’s annual report showed a decrease in veteran suicides.
September 15: VA and DHS organize a COVID-19 vaccination clinic for veterans deported to the San Ysidro border post.
October 27: VA extends the presumption period for veterans of the Persian Gulf War.
November 23: VA and Indian Health Service expand outreach to serve Native American and Alaskan veterans.
December 27: VA Trust report shows majority of veterans trust VA
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