The Veterans Affairs Administration will launch a digital front aperture to its approximately 1,000 websites on Veterans Day.
Called Vets.gov, the new web aperture will address one of veterans’ best accepted gripes, said Chief Veterans Acquaintance Officer Tom Allin in a accent Thursday to the industry-government accumulation ACT-IAC.
“I’ve never met a adept who knew what their allowances were and I’ve talking with some actually acute veterans,” he said. “A adolescent man who works with me in Veterans Experience—Rhodes scholar, Ph.D. from Harvard, West Point cardinal one in his class—has no abstraction what his allowances are.”
Going online apparently would not help. Alike VA Secretary Bob McDonald has bemoaned the coil of websites. By its name, Veterans.gov would be the analytic abode to start. But that armpit appearance the Labor Department’s job-training programs for vets. To administer for VA benefits, one charge go to eBenefits.gov. Addition VA site, My HealtheVet, is for bloom affliction advice and appointments.
Navigating aural websites poses its own challenges, Allin said.
“The affliction case was a website that appropriate 17 clicks to ability a PDF book that you accept to print, ample out and mail,” he told Federal News Radio.
It ability assume like a new website, with a name agnate to the Labor Department’s site, would alone add to the confusion. But in his speech, Allin likened Vets.gov to a “harbor” that would booty in advice from the VA’s added websites. Eventually, it would action as a one-stop boutique for VA services.
“Veterans can go in, analysis on a claim, add a dependent, assurance up for an apprenticeship benefit, change their address—get all that done—on Vets.gov,” he said.
Getting there will be a year-long process. When the armpit goes alive on Nov. 11, it will accept the content. But it will not accept the single, defended sign-on action all-important for veterans to do the things that Allin described. VA will add new items to the armpit as they are ready. Everything should be there by this time aing year, he said.
Vets.gov is allotment of a broader plan to abridge the department’s agenda services. The added efforts accommodate a complete applicant database and a civic alarm center.
“We appetite a unified acquaintance in agreement of Web, phone, chat, email—where a adept can get what they appetite to get done the aboriginal time,” he said.
VA has 225 databases of applicant information, Allin said. Those databases are not compatible. They do not allotment information, authoritative it difficult for the administration to accept how able-bodied it is confined its customers.
“We can’t acquaint you who is application the VA today, amid our veterans,” he said.
An chip database will change that and anatomy the courage of future customer-service initiatives, including Vets.gov and the civic alarm center, he said. It will accommodate veterans’ acquaintance information, aggressive records, demographic data, and their accomplished use of VA services.
The database should accord veterans beneath headaches too, he said.
“If you were to assurance up today for a account in the [Veterans Allowances Administration], accord all your information, alarm appropriate aback the aing day for addition benefit, they would accept no clue who you were or what your advice was. You’d be starting all over again,” he said. “We’ve got to stop that.”
Once the civic alarm centermost opens, it will be the capital cardinal that veterans will alarm for advice about VA allowances and services, Allin said. He predicted phone representatives would acknowledgment about a fifth of the questions on the spot. They would alteration the blow to subject-matter experts.
The civic centermost will be the aboriginal stop for those who do not apperceive absolutely whom to call, he said. Abounding of VA’s facilities’ buzz numbers are adamantine to find, alike through Google searches. Allin said he afresh heard from a adept in Guam who capital to fly to the states for medical treatment, but could not acquisition any acquaintance advice for the facility.
“That’s abominably accurate for abounding of our locations,” he said.
VA will not get rid of the 850 toll-free numbers it has now. It will accumulate them, Allin said, so that veterans do not get confused.
He did not accord a timeframe for the database or alarm centermost initiatives.
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