Secretary's Center for Strategic Partnerships (SCSP)
Air Force Legislative Fellow to bring VA experience to 'The Hill'
September 30, 2019
By Shawn Graham
Communications and Portfolio Manager Secretary’s Center for Strategic Partnerships
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Secretary’s Center for Strategic Partnerships (SCSP) recently welcomed U.S. Air Force Reserve Maj. Keith Griefer. Griefer is 1 of 27 Air Force Legislative Fellows reporting for the 116th Congress on January 1, 2020.
Griefer touts more than 24 years of military service, having served as prior enlisted non-commissioned officer for nearly 11 years on active duty prior to transferring to the Air Force Reserves as a commissioned officer. While he has myriad experience as an Airman, he thinks working at the VA will broaden his knowledge of Veterans and the partnerships that support them.
“This is an excellent opportunity to learn from Congressional staffers, and knowledge of the legislative process on a wide range of issues,” Griefer said. “This program provides each Fellow on-site experience and defense expertise. VA Chief of Staff Pamela Powers is a program alumnus and Air Force Reservist, and why I believe the program is an effective tool for developing leaders.”
“It is eye opening, seeing how organizations seek to partner with the VA to help Veterans,” Griefer said. “SCSP has given me insight into the type of donations and programs these organizations are willing to share.”
One of the major partnerships Griefer is working on is Project Atlas, in which the VA, in conjunction with Philips, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and The American Legion, equipment and expertise is provided for remote telehealth exam rooms. Atlas will enable Veterans to conduct virtual appointments with VA care teams and specialists.
“Partnerships are important to present and future services VA provides to Veterans, no matter where they live,” Griefer said. “Nearly one third (5.2 million) of the Veterans that VA serves, live in rural areas and often drive great distances to access VA care. Every Veteran deserves quality care, and VA aims to provide just that.”
Griefer said he’d always been a staunch advocate of VA healthcare services and benefits, but his recent experience in SCSP has provided a greater understanding the processes, the organization and the importance of building strong partnerships to benefit Veterans.
According to Deborah Lafer-Scher, Executive Advisor to the Secretary, who leads SCSP, said Griefer’s knowledge and wide breadth of military knowledge has been a valuable addition to the office.
“Maj. Griefer is a valuable member of our team,” Scher said. “While only on board a short time, he leads major partnership initiatives in the office. We are excited to see the impact he makes on the hill.”
While serving in his fellowship to VA, Griefer will receive an intensive Washington D.C. orientation before joining a full-time assignment to the staff of a congressional member, and periodic Georgetown Master’s classes throughout the fellowship year. Legislative Fellows write and develop research for potential legislative issues of concern to the member, Department of Defense and the Nation.
“This on-the job training is invaluable because it enhances my personal knowledge of VA benefits, services, and ensures Veterans, their families, and caregivers have the accurate responses they deserve,” Griefer said.