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I CARE Core Values

I CARE Leadership Message

Message From Leadership

A message from Secretary Shinseki about I CARE's Core Values and Characteristics.

Secretary Shinseki spoke at the 93rd Annual National Convention of the American Legion in Minneapolis, Minnesota, greeting U.S. veterans.


As the nation's primary provider of health care, services and benefits, to those who have borne the battle every VA Employee plays a critical role in serving Veterans and their families. This is more than a job. In the words of President Obama, we are privileged to fulfill a sacred trust, and upholding that trust is a moral obligation.

Fulfilling moral obligations is inextricably linked with organizational values. Values are "who we are," every single day. Demonstrating VA values sends a clear and simple message to other VA employees, Veterans and the people of our great country.

Because our values are who we are it was important to carefully consider, deliberately think about, and invest the energy required to define what our Core Values are at VA – why they are important to the department, and how we go about living them, all day every day in order to best serve our nation's Veterans. It was equally important to define our Core Characteristics, what we stand for, as part of this process, as they lead the development and articulation of the strategy, people, processes, technology that will drive our transformation into a 21st century organization. I want to assure you that in defining these VA Core Values and Characteristics, no one is suggesting that the department did not previously adhere to values. Of course we did. Since my arrival at VA, I have seen those values magnificently at work every day across the country at VA facilities demonstrated in the passion and excellence of the work you do.

But we did not have an overarching, shared, set of Core Values for all - VA Health, Benefits and National Cemeteries. I trust that every VA employee will see the importance of having a core set of department-wide values. I ask for your enthusiastic support as we ensure that every employee is afforded the opportunity to learn and embrace, share and demonstrate pride in these values. Clear and strong expressions of our culture and the fact that we, you and I, care.

We all must make a personal commitment to integrate these values in everything we do. In doing, we are sending an important message. It's a message that says I CARE.

  • I CARE about those who served.
  • I CARE about my fellow VA Employees.
  • And I CARE about doing the right thing - and doing it well.
  • The mission of our department is unique. And we are all privileged to work in an organization where people profoundly care about serving Veterans with great commitment, quality, and compassion. I know from experience that each of you cares deeply about our nation's Veterans. I challenge each of you to actively embrace our Core Values and Characteristics and to find ways to exemplify them in ever more meaningful ways each day.

    Thank you for what all of you do every day as part of a values-based department that upholds our sacred trust and moral obligation to care for those who have borne the battle.