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Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs

Remarks by Former Deputy Secretary W. Scott Gould

VA Employee Wellness Is Now (WIN) Program Kick-Off
Washington, DC
September 23, 2010

Good morning to everyone here in Washington and to everyone else who is watching us via broadcast across all of our VA facilities. I’m delighted to be here to help kick-off this exciting new program.

The Roman poet, Martial, once wrote that “life is not merely to be alive, but to be well.” This is true for all our Veterans, but it is also true for our VA employees. The men and women who have served our Nation in uniform deserve the best care and services from us at VA, but their needs are growing and changing, forcing us at VA to do the same.

We must improve the quality and accessibility of healthcare, benefits and memorial services, while optimizing value. It’s simple and straightforward. We want to deliver the highest quality benefits and services—period. But processes don’t transform organizations; buildings don’t transform organizations; people do.

As Assistant Secretary Sepulveda explained, this is why we are making an unprecedented investment in you, our employees. In many respects, your health, clarity of mind and well-being underpin our ability to transform VA. We believe our employees are our most important resource. We need to treat that national resource better than we would any other—as the vital factor worthy of our ongoing care, training, and development.

The private sector learned a long time ago that people are our most critical resource—to get the most out of them we have to invest in them and they, in turn are therefore better able to serve our clients. The military learned the lesson too: “Take care of your people and they will take care of the mission.” The military and best private corporations devote substantial time and money to training and nurturing their members—at all levels. But the civil service has lagged behind. So we’re changing that.

The WIN initiative is founded on the belief that healthy, active employees are better able to serve Veterans.

VA’s leadership is fully committed to transforming the department into a 21st century organization. You have seen the time and investment in training, HR systems, and improved labor-management, the emphasis on better management infrastructure, and customer service. Today WIN joins that list of important steps to make VA a better place to work.

At VA we don’t want our employees to merely survive the rigors of everyday life. We want you to thrive in mind, body, and spirit.

Taking part in WIN may seem selfish, but you can only give from what you have. And remember that improving your health also benefits the people you love and those who love you: family, friends, and communities of which you are a part.

To fulfill our department’s mission, all VA employees must rise to the challenge and take advantage of personal and professional development opportunities.

WIN is a great program—the information you’ll have access to has been created and vetted by leading health professionals and experts. WIN is a top-notch program that requires your participation and enthusiasm to be a success.

This morning, I encourage you to learn about how WIN can help you take the steps to improve your long-term health and well-being.

VA’s leadership is dedicated to building a more supportive workplace around you, so that you can advance your career, advance VA, and advance our service to Veterans. Secretary Shinseki and I fully support Assistant Secretary Sepulveda in efforts to make VA one of the best places to work in government—and anywhere.

We can rise to the challenge of caring for our Veterans. But it is up to you to take the most important step.

WIN is there for you. We need you to help us evolve and transform VA. If you do, you and our Veterans will benefit. Thank you.