Vets Now Able to Engage with VA at the Local Level
All of the 152 VA medical centers are now actively represented on Facebook, the world’s largest social networking site.
“This event marks an important milestone in the overall effort to transform how VA communicates with Veterans and provide them the health care and benefits they have earned,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.
VA now has over 150 Facebook pages, 64 Twitter feeds, a YouTube channel, a Flickr page, and the VAntage Point blog.
“Veterans of all eras are depending on us to get the right information to the right person at the right time,” said Brandon Friedman, VA’s director of online communications, and a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan.
“With more troops returning home, we also have a responsibility to connect with the thousands of service members who have been—and will be—entering our system. They’re using social media, so that’s where we need to be. Facebook helps us do that.”
Private Health Information Stays Private
“We are very pleased to have pioneered social media in VA, and now our VA medical centers across the nation are all engaged,” said Dr. Robert Petzel, under secretary for health. “We are committed to helping Veterans understand their benefits and receive the health care their service has earned them.”
VA clinicians can’t discuss the specific health concerns of individual Veterans on Facebook, but that doesn’t prevent staff from monitoring VA’s sites closely each day and providing helpful information to Veterans when they can. Last year, for instance, VA’s Crisis Line counselors successfully intervened on Facebook in cases where Veterans have indicated suicidal thoughts or other emotional crises.
345,000 Fans and Growing
VA currently has over 345,000 combined Facebook subscribers (or, “fans”). The Department’s main Facebook page has over 154,000 fans and its medical centers have a combined subscribership of over 69,000. The Department plans to continue expanding its Facebook presence while also focusing on bringing Twitter to every VA medical center as well.
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