Enhancing Veterans Care

Enhancing Veterans Care

 
Enhancing Veterans Care
Enhancing Veterans Care
Event builder display intro
Virtual Event

As the nation adapted to new working environments and operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, federal agencies pivoted resources to tackling the detection, treatment and management of the virus. Meanwhile, the Department of Veterans Affairs had a unique role in caring for the veterans it serves as well as supporting civilian hospitals. Faced with urgent priorities in vaccine distribution and further pandemic relief nationwide, federal leaders discuss the digital tools and strategic oversight that are helping government accomplish the next phase of the pandemic response.

Date
March 18, 2021
Time
8:30 - 10:30 a.m. EST (Event has concluded)
Where
Virtual event
Watch video
 
Enhancing veterans care

Video Replay

Sen. Jon Tester, chairman of Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and Rep. Mark Takano, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, sat down to discuss the policy implications on veteran benefits and health care. This included a look at how funding from the American Rescue Plan will enable increased support in infrastructure modernization and expanded vaccination and mental health support efforts with the Save Lives Act, the Commander John Scott Hannon Act and the The Veterans Compact Act of 2020.

The pandemic enabled new horizons for communicating with veterans and supporting the veteran experience through technologies like remote telehealth and setting up vaccine appointments. Agency leaders across the customer experience and IT ecosystem discuss the strategies and progress in these capabilities.

  • Dominic Cussatt, Acting Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology and CIO, Veterans Affairs
  • Barbara Morton, Deputy Chief Veterans Experience Officer, Veterans Affairs
  • Charles Worthington, CTO, Veterans Affairs

Dr. Richard Stone, acting under secretary for health at the Veterans Health Administration, provides a close look at the progress the Department of Veterans Affairs has made in vaccinating 2 million veterans with at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Stone also discusses how the agency is working with veterans of color to bridge vaccination disparities as the agency pushes forward with its COVID-19 response.

Dr. Stone's keynote appeared during the March 18 Enhancing Veterans…

Ensuring continuity of care and benefits has been a primary mission in supporting veterans throughout the course of the pandemic. Thomas Murphy, acting under secretary for benefits at the Veterans Benefits Administration, discusses standing up workflows and technologies for increased claims processing, communication strategies, new digital tools and more.

Related Coverage

Veterans Affairs has taken a leading role in the national pandemic response and overcoming barriers in health equity.
Senate and House VA leads are working together to tackle veterans mental health care, vaccinations and more.
The Veterans Benefits Administration overcomes pandemic challenges with advances in GI Bill benefits, mail processing and artificial intelligence.
The agency’s ongoing investment in digital services, cloud computing and overall IT modernization has allowed VA to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine with exceptional speed.

Speakers

 

Mr. Dominic Cussatt has served as Acting Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology and Chief Information Officer since January 20, 2021. Mr. Cussatt oversees the entire IT Program for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), a Fortune 10 sized agency servicing 22M US veterans with over $200B in annual budget and over 350,000 government staff. The VA IT program includes 24/7 IT operations spread across every US state and several overseas territories supporting 145 Hospitals and 1231 Outpatient Facilities (making VA the largest health care organization in the US), 56 Regional Benefits Offices, and 135 Veteran Cemeteries. He oversees VA's $4B  annual IT budget and the activities of over 10,000 IT employees and contractors performing Account Management, Strategic Sourcing, IT Development and Operations, Information Security, IT Resource Management, Quality Assurance, and Performance and Risk Management. In his previous role as VA Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), Mr. Cussatt oversaw the VA’s Enterprise Cybersecurity Program ensuring secure and reliable operation of VA’s IT infrastructure. Mr. Cussatt has over 25 years of public and private sector IT experience, and was with the US Department of Defence (DoD) CIO’s office for 12 years prior to VA. During his tenure as DoD Deputy CISO for Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy, he was also the Director of the DoD International Cybersecurity Program. In 2014, he was selected by the 28 NATO nations as the National Co-Chair of the NATO Information Assurance/Cyber Defense Capability Panel, the sole source of cybersecurity policy for the NATO Alliance. He also served over 3 years as DoD Tri-Chair for the Committee on National Security Systems (CNSS) Subcommittee, a national forum for US National Security System policy which published dozens of Federal cybersecurity policies under his tenure. Since 2007, Mr. Cussatt has been a member of the US Federal Government’s Joint Task Force Transformation Initiative, a US Civil/Defense/Intelligence partnership developing minimum Federal IT standards. The Initiative successfully unified the US Federal Government’s disparate cybersecurity standards by publishing 5 National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) special publications, including the NIST security control catalog and the NIST Risk Management Framework. He was twice awarded the Office of the Secretary of Defence (OSD) Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service (in 2014 & 2016), the OSD’s highest level career medaled award.

Acting Assistant Secretary for Information & Technology and CIO, VA
Deputy Chief Veterans Experience Officer, VA

Mr. Thomas J. Murphy has been serving as the Acting Under Secretary for Benefits since January 20, 2021. He was previously the Director of the Northeast District, Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), located in St. Louis, Missouri. As Northeast District Director, he oversees the delivery of non-medical benefits programs, including compensation, pension, fiduciary, vocational rehabilitation, and home loan guaranty benefits by 20 regional offices serving a Veteran population of more than 7.6 million. He also provides oversight of VBA’s Records Management Center, which serves as a special processing center for VA and military record requests. Overall, he has operational oversight responsibility for over 6,400 employees. 

Prior to his current position, he was Acting Under Secretary for Benefits and served as the Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Benefits. In those positions, he led more than 20,000 VBA employees in delivering non-medical benefits programs. Through a nationwide network of 56 regional offices, special processing centers, and VBA Headquarters, he oversaw the execution of nearly $96B in direct benefits to Veterans and their dependents. Mr. Murphy previously served as the Director of Compensation Service where he was responsible for the development and implementation of policies and procedures related to the administration of VA disability and death compensation programs which paid $66.38 billion dollars in benefits in fiscal year 2015 to 4.5 million eligible Veterans and dependents. Before serving as Director of Compensation Service, he served as the Director of the San Juan, Puerto Rico Regional Office.

Mr. Murphy joined the Veterans Benefits Administration from The Home Depot, where he was a Director of Merchandise Planning. Prior to joining The Home Depot, Mr. Murphy was a Senior Tactical Planning Manager for Qwest Communications. He also worked for ten years in the Department of Defense in a variety of positions, including Logistics Manager, Administrative Officer, Training Manager, Staffing Specialist, and Chief of Employee Services. Mr. Murphy retired from the military as a Major after 15 years of service in the Colorado National Guard and 6 years of service with the Marine Corps Reserve. He served as an Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, Battalion Operations Officer, Battery Commander, and Battery Fire Direction Officer.

Acting Under Secretary for Benefits, VBA

Dr. Richard Stone serves as the Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health, Veterans Health Administration (VHA), with the authority to perform the functions and duties of the Under Secretary for Health. Dr. Stone currently directs a health care system with an annual budget of approximately $68 billion, overseeing the delivery of care to more than 9 million enrolled Veterans. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is the largest integrated health care system in the United States, providing care at 1,243 health care facilities, including 172 VA Medical Centers and 1,062 outpatient sites of care of varying complexity (VHA outpatient clinics). VHA is the nation's largest provider of graduate medical education and a major contributor to medical and scientific research. More than 73,000 active volunteers, 127,000 health professions trainees, and more than 306,000 full time health care professionals and support staff are an integral part of the VHA community.

Prior to returning to VA, Dr. Stone was a Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton, assigned to Military Health within Booz Allen’s health portfolio. Dr. Stone previously served as the Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Health in VHA. His focus on VHA organizational transformation, ensuring Veteran access to health care and restoring trust in the Veterans Health Administration has been broadly recognized. Prior to that appointment, Dr. Stone was a Principal at Booz Allen Hamilton and was widely recognized for his expertise in civilian and Department of Defense health and health care business reengineering. He provided strategic input across the Federal and civilian Health portfolio and supported programs to enhance the overall health of service members, Veterans, and military families.

Dr. Stone is retired from the US Army where he served as the Army’s Deputy Surgeon General and the Deputy Commanding General of Support for US Army MEDCOM. His final assignment was leading the operations cell of the Defense Health Agency Transition Team that developed business case analysis and business process reengineering for the 10 “shared services” assigned to the new Defense Health Agency. With extensive experience in civilian health care, Dr. Stone served multiple non-profit regional health care systems and has owned multiple businesses over his career. Currently a practicing dermatologist, he obtained his training from Wayne State Affiliated programs in Detroit and the VA Health system, and is a Board Certified fellow in the American Academy of Dermatology.

He has a number of awards and honors to his credit including the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Combat Action Badge, and was a member of the Department of Defense Recovering Warrior Task Force from 2011 – 2015.

Acting Under Secretary for Health, VHA

For more than twenty years, Mark Takano has worked to improve the lives of Riverside County residents, both as an elected official and as a teacher at Rialto High School.

Born and raised in Riverside, Mark's commitment to public service began at an early age. His family roots in Riverside go back to his grandparents who, along with his parents, were removed from their respective homes and sent to Japanese American Internment camps during World War II. After the war, these two families settled in Riverside County to rebuild their lives.

Mark attended La Sierra High School in the Alvord Unified School District, and in 1979 he graduated as the school's valedictorian. Mark attended Harvard College and received his bachelor's degree in Government in 1983. As a student, he bussed tables to help make ends meet. During his senior year, he organized a transcontinental bicycle ride to benefit the international development agency Oxfam America.

Upon graduation, Mark returned home to Riverside and began teaching in the Rialto Unified School District in 1988. As a classroom teacher, Mark confronted the challenges in our public education system daily.

In 1990, Mark was elected to the Riverside Community College District's Board of Trustees. At RCC, Mark worked with Republicans and Democrats to improve higher education for young people and job training opportunities for adults seeking to learn a new skill or start a new career. He was elected Board President in 1991 and helped the Board and the District gain stability and direction amid serious fiscal challenges.

In 2012, Mark became the first openly gay person of color to be elected to Congress.

Mark Takano represents the people of Riverside, Moreno Valley, Jurupa Valley and Perris in the United States House of Representatives. He serves as Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and as a member of the Education and Labor Committee.

Chairman, House Committee on Veterans' Affairs

Senator Jon Tester is a third-generation Montana farmer, a proud grandfather, and a former school teacher who has deep roots in hard work, responsibility and accountability.

Jon and his wife Sharla still farm the same land near the town of Big Sandy, Mont. that was homesteaded by Jon’s grandparents in 1912.  Jon’s parents believed public education and family agriculture are the cornerstones of democracy—and those values had a tremendous role in shaping Jon’s leadership.

After earning a degree in music from the College of Great Falls, Jon took over the Tester farm in 1978.  He also taught music at F.E. Miley Elementary and eventually was elected to the Big Sandy School Board.  Fired up by the Montana Legislature’s decision to deregulate Montana’s power industry (resulting in higher power costs), Jon ran for and was elected to the Montana Senate in 1998.

In 2005, Jon’s colleagues chose him to serve as Montana Senate President.  The people of Montana then elected Jon to the United States Senate in 2006. They voted to send him back in 2012 and again in 2018.

Jon believes in holding himself accountable to the highest standards possible, and he has improved transparency at all levels of government.  In fact, Jon was the first senator to post his daily public schedule online.

In the U.S. Senate, Jon is an outspoken voice for rural America.  He is an advocate for small businesses who has hosted numerous Small Business Opportunity Workshops across Montana to serve thousands of business owners and entrepreneurs.  He is a champion of responsible energy development, sportsmen’s issues, clean air and water, Indian nations, women’s access to care, and quality health care for all of America’s veterans—no matter where they live.

In the Senate, Jon serves as Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. He is also a member of the Senate Commerce, Indian Affairs, Banking, and Appropriations Committees.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs

Charles Worthington is a software developer and product designer who has been helping the government adopt modern digital service delivery best practices since 2013. He currently serves as the Chief Technology Officer for the Office of Information and Technology at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), where he leads efforts to improve the experience Veterans have when interacting with VA online as well as help OIT adopt modern DevSecOps best practices. Since joining the Department, he has guided VA’s Digital Transformation Strategy. His efforts include supporting VA’s adoption of commercial cloud infrastructure, spearheading enhancements to the agency’s online appointment scheduling tools, and supporting the transformation of VA.gov into a modern customer-facing platform. Prior to joining VA, Charles built products for private sector clients and was a strategy consultant in the tech & telecom sectors. Charles holds a B.A. from Harvard University.

CTO, VA

Agenda

 
-

Welcome Remarks

  • Amy Kluber, Editorial Director, GovernmentCIO Media & Research
-

Interview: Congressional Priorities on Veteran Care

  • Sen. Jon Tester, Chairman, Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs
  • Rep. Mark Takano, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans' Affairs
  • Moderator: Michael Hoffman, President, GovernmentCIO Media & Research
-

Boosting Veterans' Digital Experience

The pandemic enabled new horizons for communicating with veterans and supporting the veteran experience through technologies like remote telehealth and setting up vaccine appointments. Agency leaders across the customer experience and IT ecosystem discuss the strategies and progress in these capabilities.

  • Dominic Cussatt, Acting Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology and CIO, VA
  • Barbara Morton, Deputy Chief Veterans Experience Officer, VA
  • Charles Worthington, CTO, VA
  • Moderator: Megha Chokshi, Senior Vice President, GovernmentCIO
-

Fireside Chat with the Veterans Health Administration

  • Dr. Richard Stone, Acting Under Secretary for Health, Veterans Health Administration
  • Moderator: Amy Kluber, Editorial Director, GovernmentCIO Media & Research
-

Ramping Up Benefits

Ensuring continuity of care and benefits has been a primary mission in supporting veterans throughout the course of the pandemic. This entailed standing up workflows and technologies for increased claims processing, communication strategies, new digital tools and more.

  • Thomas Murphy, Acting Under Secretary for Benefits, Veterans Benefits Administration
  • Moderator: Amy Kluber, Editorial Director, GovernmentCIO Media & Research
-

Closing Remarks

  • Michael Hoffman, President, GovernmentCIO Media & Research