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Red Coat Ambassador program exemplifies excellence in Veteran care

An image of Red Coat Ambassador of the Year Joe Buais helping a Veteran navigate the Kiosk as he checks in for his appointment
Red Coat Ambassador of the Year Joe Buais helps a Veteran navigate the Kiosk as he checks in for his appointment

Military Veterans are made up of a variety of different characteristics. Some were enlisted, some officers; some are a little younger, some a little older; some saw combat, some did not. The list goes on, but one thing all Veterans have in common is their commitment to protect our nation.

The Red Coat Ambassador program at the Columbia VA Health Care System is no different.

The program is made up of staff members – some younger, some older; some Veterans, some not. And, just like Veterans, the Red Coat Ambassadors all have commitment in common – a commitment to excellence while assisting our nation’s Veterans.

When one thinks of the word excellence in a health care setting, words like best, top-notch, and high-quality come to mind. That is exactly what Veterans visiting the Columbia VA HCS receive each time they interact with a Red Coat Ambassador.

“We have a great team of ambassadors who go above and beyond to ensure our nation’s heroes are assisted as the enter the facility,” said Denise Smith, supervisor, Red Coat Ambassador program. “Whether it is offering wheelchair or ambulatory assistance, Kiosk navigation, or providing information to enhance the Veteran’s experience, our team is willing to render support and guidance.”

U.S. Army Veteran and Red Coat Ambassador Joe Buais is a perfect example of the dedication and excellence the team provides to Veterans. Recently, Buais received national recognition when he was named Red Coat Ambassador of the Year at the VA Patient Experience Symposium.

“For me it is important because when you go serve your country, you want to come back and be treated with dignity and respect,” said Buais. “They served their country, so I want to give back to them. It is all about serving the Veterans and being that friendly face when they come through the door.”

In the past year, Red Coat Ambassadors, Andrea White and Cheri Oakes, were recognized by the Columbia VA HCS’s High Reliability Organization program for their dedication to Veterans.

The Red Coat Ambassador program is part of the new culture of customer service at VA medical centers across the country.

“The red coats proved that extra touch in a very complex medical environment,” said retired U.S. Air Force Veteran Thomas Robillard. “The attitude they have simply exuberates pride in the mission they are performing. They truly live up to the title of Red Coat Ambassadors!”

Learn more about how VA is improving Veterans experience at