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First-Ever Veterans Affairs Department of Defense Joint Planning Summit

Image of First-Ever VA-DoD Joint Planning Summit. Assistant Director of Healthcare Administration for the Defense Health Agency Dr. Brian Lein, speaks to a group during a joint planning summit between the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs. (Photo By Arif Patani)

Leaders from the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs came together this week for a first-of-its-kind joint-planning summit to identify mutually beneficial resource-sharing opportunities to improve health care for both veterans and DOD beneficiaries in North Carolina and Virginia.

The departments have already successfully launched partnerships at several locations around the United States. However, the VA-DOD Joint Planning Summit in Durham provided an opportunity for members from each department to meet in person, generating conversations and connections that might be missed by geographic distance or by working in virtual environments.

"This first-ever joint VA-DOD planning summit will strategically focus on identifying immediate opportunities in North Carolina and Virginia to optimize joint agency resources and staff to expand healthcare services and improve clinical care access points for veterans and service members while enhancing military readiness by maximizing the use of our funds, infrastructure, and innovations," said U.S. Secretary of Veteran Affairs Denis McDonough in his opening summit remarks.

During the summit, agency leaders and medical center directors from various regions presented briefings on current collaboration efforts, potential roadblocks to success, and recommendations for the future. Based on the presentations, their peers in the audience were able to provide feedback and insight from their experiences and help identify additional ways to maximize regional partnerships. The dialogue created an increased understanding of service needs and capacities and inspired action items to support future opportunities.

"Coming together at a summit like this gives us an opportunity to look for ways to better care for those who have sacrificed so much for this country," said Dr. Brian Lein, assistant director of healthcare administration for the Defense Health Agency. "These partnerships will expand services for both Veterans and DOD beneficiaries. This summit is a great way for us to connect with our VA teammates face-to-face, learn about their challenges and needs, and discuss ways we can make the most of each other's resources."

Leaders from both agencies say the summit exceeded expectations, and its outcomes will provide a comprehensive playbook outlining the strategies and best practices for regions across the country to replicate and adapt to their specific needs.

"We accomplished a lot over the last couple of days," said Rear Adm. Matthew Case, director of Defense Health Network Atlantic. "We still have a lot of work to do, but we've now identified additional concrete ways to move forward efficiently with this partnership. My biggest takeaway is that this relationship is a win-win-win for the VA, the DOD, and our beneficiaries. I'm excited to watch how the relationship grows."

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Last Updated: May 31, 2024
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