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VHA Community Partnership Challenge

Community Partnership Challenge series: How the Veterans Experience Office and the Community Veteran Engagement Board initiative supports the social determinants of health

This is the second in a series of articles about how various VA and VHA offices, initiatives, and programs support social determinants of health—the theme of the VHA 2020 Community Partnership Challenge. The second Community Partnership Challenge series feature: the Veterans Experience Office and the Community Veteran Engagement Board initiative. You can read the first article in the series here.

The Veterans Experience Office (VEO) and its Veterans, Family, and Community Engagement (VFCE) Directorate works with VEO’s Community Veteran Engagement Board (CVEB) initiative to provide services in support of Veterans’ employment, transportation, food security, and more. These efforts are in keeping with the focus of VHA’s 2020 Community Partnership Challenge theme: the social determinants of health (SDOH). CVEBs are situated in communities across the nation—there are currently 161—and are community groups comprising Veterans, Veteran advocates, Veteran-serving organizations, and civic leaders who collaborate to meet specific needs in their community. CVEBs’ efforts focus on a diversity of Veteran needs and  support many SDOH.

“Because of the diversity and flexibility of CVEBs, they are able to support social determinants of health that best meet the needs of Veterans in the local community they serve,” said Jim Wartski, VFCE’s executive director.

For example, Mr. Wartski explained, some CVEBs have helped put programs in place to provide free bus passes to assist Veterans with their transportation needs. Others have established Veterans treatment court programs to help Veterans involved in the legal system experience positive outcomes. Each CVEB is unique and serves a variety of different needs. It is the community that comes together to work toward each CVEB’s goals.

VFCE, in cooperation with national nonprofit organizations, identified key areas for CVEBs to monitor in their communities to better support Veterans’ well-being. Some of those areas include homelessness, employment, and education—all are focus areas of this year’s Community Partnership Challenge, and are evidence that individuals across VA recognize how important SDOH are for Veterans’ quality of life.

“The social determinants of health encompass so many areas impacting the livelihood of Veterans and their families,” said Mr. Wartski. “Many CVEBs are the catalyst for bringing community partners together to address the issues affecting the social determinants of health.”

VEO’s mission is to enable VA to be the leading customer service organization in government, so that Veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors choose VA. The nationwide reach of CVEBs, and these groups’ ability to target efforts specifically on the needs of their communities, enables them to provide an inimitable customer experience and support of SDOH.

The Community Partnership Challenge is an annual contest hosted by OCE that highlights nonmonetary, community-level partnerships between VHA and nongovernmental organizations that serve Veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors. SDOH, this year’s Challenge theme, are conditions in the environments in which Veterans live, learn, work, play, worship, and age. The SDOH that are the focus of this year’s Challenge are: employment, food security, housing, spiritual support, and transportation. When Veterans have access to positive SDOH such as these, they lead healthier lives.

For more information about CVEBs, please visit:

External Link Disclaimer: This page contains links that will take you outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs website. VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked websites.

Posted March 17, 2020