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Asst Dep Under Secretary for Health for Policy & Planning


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Strategic Planning and Analysis

Strategic Planning & Analysis

provides a synthesis of strategic issues and translates it into a plan and guidance of key approaches to accomplishing VHA’s mission and vision.

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Policy Analysis and Forecasting

Policy Analysis & Forecasting

provides timely and effective analysis to support policy decisions, which results in improved Veteran access to high quality health care services.

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Office of Rural Health

Office of Rural Health

Implements a targeted, solution-driven approach to increase access to care for the 3 million Veterans living in rural communities who rely on VA..

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Welcome Message from Ms. Valerie Mattison Brown, Bio

VHA Policy & Planning


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Image of Valerie Mattison Brown, MS, MPAVHA Policy & Planning

Hello and welcome to the website of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Office of Policy and Planning.  It is my pleasure to share with you our role in creating conditions for success as VA designs a high performing integrated health care network to improve the overall health, experience and well-being of Veterans.

The VHA Office of Policy and Planning supports the offices of the Under Secretary for Health, Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health, and Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Policy and Services as an advisor on the development, implementation, and impact of VHA policy, strategic planning, and data management. We also develop policy, programs and fund initiatives within VA that advance the health of Veterans in rural America. The mission of the Office is to:  “Advance Veteran health care through mission critical planning, forecasting, information, and policy analysis.”  

The VHA Office of Policy and Planning is comprised of a central office and three field-based units. We coordinate various aspects of VHA's national policy development, analysis and planning initiatives. The Office represents VHA's priorities and policies through intra-organizational activities that improve the health of Veterans, plan for Veterans’ services, promote policy related to the care of Veterans, advance rural health issues, and project Veteran enrollment and utilization of care for health systems planning and budget development. Employees in this Office work collaboratively to further the VHA vision and achieve VA goals while striving to be innovative, always acting with integrity, and being responsive to our stakeholders’ needs.

Frequently Asked QuestionsFAQs

Q. What is the Office of Rural Health?
A. The Office of Rural Health (ORH) implements a targeted, solution-driven approach to increase access to care for the 3 million Veterans living in rural communities who rely on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for health care. As VA’s lead advocate for rural Veterans, ORH works to see that America’s Veterans thrive in rural communities. To accomplish this, ORH leverages its resources to study, innovate and spread enterprise-wide solutions through partnerships.

To learn more, visit ORH’s About Us page.

Q. How does VA support rural Veterans’ health and well-being?
A. ORH implements enterprise-wide initiatives that help improve the health and well-being of rural Veterans by increasing their access to care and services. These national programs stem from the Office's model to "study, innovate and spread" new innovations to support the 3 million rural Veterans who are enrolled in and rely on the VA health care system. Historically, ORH provided three years of seed funding for local VA pilot programs implemented at VA medical centers and community based outpatient clinics. Building on knowledge collected from more than 1,700 local programs and applying lessons learned, the Office transitioned in 2016 to establish enterprise-wide initiatives that deliver care and support to rural Veterans nationwide in a more uniform manner.

To learn more, visit ORH’s About Us page.

Q. What are ORH enterprise-wide initiatives?
A. ORH implements enterprise-wide initiatives that deliver care and support to rural Veterans nationwide in a more uniform manner. These initiatives enable VA to rapidly address systemic health care and access challenges experienced by Veterans in rural communities, and take the shape of Collaborative Rural Access Solutions and Rural Promising Practices. ORH’s fiscal year 2017 enterprise-wide initiatives are grouped into five service categories: primary care, mental health, specialty care, workforce training and education, and ancillary support (e.g., transportation).

Rural Promising Practices are field-tested innovative projects and proven models of care that meet ORH criteria demonstrating improved access to care for rural Veterans. These programs:

  • Increase access to care and services for rural Veterans and their families in the communities where they live
  • Share clinical and operational knowledge among health care delivery professionals who serve rural Veterans
  • Mentor program champions so they can successfully implement these strong practices
  • Contribute to long-term improvements in the rural health care delivery system

Historically, ORH provided seed funding for innovative local projects that sought to address rural Veterans’ health care and access issues. Building on the findings of this work, ORH identified projects that showed significant impact based on select criteria. These projects became Rural Promising Practices and are now implemented nationwide.

Collaborative Rural Access Solutions expand national VA program offices’ health care efforts to sites that serve rural Veterans. Initial funding is available by ORH to support implementation in VA facilities across the country. There are currently more than 35 Collaborative Rural Access Solutions.

To learn more, visit ORH’s Rural Promising Practices and Collaborative Rural Access Solutions pages.

Q. What are rural Veteran’s challenges to accessing health care?
A. Veterans may experience typical challenges accessing health care in rural areas such as provider shortages, distance to obtain care and lack of transportation options. These rural challenges may be exacerbated by injuries or illnesses related to one’s military service. Just like any rural resident, it may be difficult for rural Veterans and their caregivers to access health care and other services due to challenges of rural health care delivery, including:

  • Higher poverty rates
  • More hospital closings due to financial instability
  • Population health factors and “social determinants of health”
    • Challenges in access to health and wellness promotion efforts
    • Fewer housing, education, employment and transportation options
  • Greater geographic and distance barriers
  • Limited broadband internet
  • Greater geographic and distance barriers
  • Higher uninsured rates


To learn more, visit ORH’s rural Veterans page.

Q. Who are rural Veterans?
A. Rural Veterans are a diverse group that range from young men and women who served in recent conflicts to elderly Veterans from World War II. Of the 5.2 million rural Veterans, 2.9 million are enrolled in the VA health care system. Compared to urban Veterans enrolled in VA’s health system, these enrolled rural Veterans are more likely to be:

  • Male (six percent are women, a small but growing number)
  • Caucasian (nine percent report being a racial or ethnic minority)
  • Older (more than half are 65 years or older)
  • Unemployed or low-income (54 percent earn an annual income of less than $36,000)
  • Married (more than half are currently married)
  • Less technologically connected (36 percent do not access the internet)
  • Living in Texas, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and California (i.e., states with the highest numbers of VA enrolled rural Veterans)
  • Using VA health care (nearly half consider VA a primary source of health care)


To learn more, visit ORH’s rural Veterans page.

Q. What is the VA Survey of Veteran Enrollees’ Health and Use of Health Care (Survey of Enrollees)?
A. The Survey of Enrollees is an annual nationwide survey of Veterans enrolled in VA health care.  More than 42,000 randomly selected Veterans participate each year and are asked questions about their general use of health care, insurance benefits, and health care needs in order to plan for future use of VA health care.  The Survey of Enrollees is unique among VA’s health care surveys because it includes both eligible Veterans who choose to use VA health care AND those who choose not to use VA health care in the survey sample.

Q.  Does VA and Department Of Defense conduct coordinated medical planning to provide health services to both Veterans and Service Members?
A.  Yes.  VA and DoD are committed to working together to improve the access, quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of health care for Service members, Veterans, and their beneficiaries. Subject matter experts from both Departments engage in collaborative work on a regular basis through the Health Executive Council (HEC) and its work groups. The HEC oversees the cooperative efforts of each Department’s health care organizations and supports mutually beneficial opportunities to improve business practices and ensures high quality, cost effective health care services for both VA and DoD beneficiaries.  The HEC contributes strategic goals, objectives, and action plans to the Joint Executive Committee (JEC) Joint Strategic Plan.  The JEC is the major governance body for coordination and sharing between VA and DoD.

VHA Facility DirectoryVHA Facility Maps

The most current information about VHA facilities available within your area can be found by clicking on the following links: 

VHA Facility Directory

VHA Facility Map: PDF Download

VHA Facility Map: Downloadable




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Welcome Message from Ms. Valerie Mattison Brown: Bio