Honoring our heroes and a call to serve at the VA
COMMENTARY | The Veterans Affairs Department offers an unparalleled opportunity for doctors, nurses, and mental health professionals to give back to those who have already given so much.
As our nation prepares to honor its heroes on Veterans Day, it is a time to reflect not only on the valor and sacrifices of our servicemen and women but also on the role we can play in their journey long after the parades end. In the aftermath of a global health crisis, our appreciation for healthcare professionals has reached new heights—especially for those who couple their medical expertise with a profound sense of duty. The Veterans Affairs Department stands as a testament to this service, offering an unparalleled opportunity for doctors, nurses, and mental health professionals to give back to those who have already given so much.
The VA's transformative year, marked by remarkable hiring achievements, is more than a bureaucratic milestone; it is a recommitment to the promise we make as a nation to care for our soldiers who have braved battlefields. The Veterans Health Administration and the Veterans Benefits Administration have become more than employers; they are stewards of a sacred trust, where healthcare providers heal not just bodies and minds but also honor the spirits of our American heroes.
The surge of 61,000 new employees joining VHA and the significant bolstering of VBA's staff by over 20% in fiscal 2023 exemplify a successful mobilization for veterans' welfare. Behind the 116 million appointments served and the multitude of benefit claims processed, there are countless stories of dignity restored, hardships eased, and gratitude deepened—all made possible by those who chose to serve at the VA.
For medical and mental health professionals, the VA offers a landscape rich with growth and appreciation. Incentives transcending monetary rewards to recognition of invaluable contributions, the VA is creating a culture that celebrates excellence. Investments in technology and process improvements aim to preserve the well-being of its staff, echoing a pledge to care for those who care for our veterans.
Mental health professionals will find the VA's 6.5% increase in mental health appointments indicative of a crucial mission awaiting their expertise and empathy. At a time when our veterans’ needs are most acute, the VA is expanding a sanctuary for the healing arts, honoring the sacrifices of our veterans with every appointment, every session, every breakthrough.
Physicians and specialists will find the VA's increasing demand for specialized care a powerful motivation. With a 4.6% increase in specialist appointments and a 25% boost in transplants, the VA is a place where advanced medical practices and innovation serve a purpose far greater than in any traditional healthcare setting.
Moreover, the VA's recognition of the dedication and risks taken by its staff reflects a deep understanding of the Veterans Day ethos—honoring service. The anticipated "super awesome" retention incentives signal a steadfast commitment to nurturing the very people entrusted with the care of our nation's defenders.
As the VA readies itself to roll out new initiatives to fortify its workforce, it stands as a beacon this Veterans Day—a shining example of how the work of healthcare professionals can embody the highest form of national service. To choose a career at the VA is to weave your professional path with the threads of patriotism, courage, and profound respect for those who have donned the uniform.
This Veterans Day, as we celebrate and honor our veterans, let us also extend a call to those healthcare heroes who wish to continue this legacy of service. The VA is not merely offering jobs; it is extending an invitation to be part of a noble mission—enhancing the lives of America's finest every day. Answering this call means providing a service that goes beyond care; it is a tribute to every veteran who has served our nation, a tribute that echoes long after Veterans Day has passed.
Michael Embrich is a veteran, former member of the secretary of Veterans Affairs' Advisory Committee on the Readjustment of Veterans, and former congressional staffer.