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VA Names Finalists for 2011 Employee Innovation Competition

August 12, 2011, 08:00:00 AM

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VA Names Finalists for 2011 Employee Innovation Competition

Proposals Improve Employment Services for Veterans Entering the Workforce

WASHINGTON -- Twelve finalists have been selected for the latest Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Innovation Initiative (VAi2) competition, which sought new ideas to help service-disabled Veterans obtain meaningful employment. VA employees submitted more than 700 proposals to the competition.

“This innovation competition underscores the commitment of VA employees to making a positive difference in the way this Department serves Veterans in the 21st century,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “Our transformation relies heavily on the talent and expertise of our front-line employees -- to streamline operations, improve services and do what is best for Veterans while protecting taxpayers’ dollars.”

Peer review, enabled by crowd-sourcing technology and combined with input from internal and external reviewers, identified 12 finalists in this competition to improve Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment VetSuccess services to Veterans.  

The 12 finalists designed new ways to make it easier for Veterans to access benefits and complete their employment rehabilitation programs, while streamlining behind-the-scenes processes to deliver those benefits faster and more effectively through enhanced automation.  Each finalist is detailed onto http://www.va.gov/VAi2/VBAcompetition.asp.

 “The competition highlights an important role for VA, which is to ensure that Veterans with service-connected disabilities successfully transition from military to civilian employment, achieving maximum independence,” said VA Under Secretary for Benefits Allison Hickey.  “I am very excited about these innovative proposals; they come straight from our employees who work with Veterans every day.”

After hearing presentations from the 12 finalists, the VAi2 Executive Selection Board will choose those innovations most suited for implementation. Deputy Secretary of Veteran Affairs W. Scott Gould chairs the board, comprised of the under secretaries for benefits and health, and VA’s chief information and technology officers.

VAi2 launched in spring of 2010 to identify, fund and test new ideas and new tools that improve access, enhance quality, reduce costs and improve Veteran satisfaction with VA services.  Visit http://www.va.gov/VAi2/ for more information.

Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment VetSuccess services focus on vocational and personal counseling to transitioning Service members and eligible Veterans with service-connected disabilities. Services include career counseling, education and training, financial aid, job assistance, and medical and dental treatment. These rehabilitative services are part of VA’s commitment to a lifetime engagement with Veterans and their families, from the time a Service member dons the uniform through discharge, transition, and throughout civilian life.

More information about Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment VetSuccess services is available from VA at http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/vre/. Veterans applying for these benefits are encouraged to use VA’s web portal for online applications at http://benefits.va.gov/myebenefits.

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