RD703 - Virginia Department of Veterans Services Commissioner’s 2023 Annual Report – December 1, 2023

Executive Summary:

*This report was replaced in its entirety by the Department of Veterans Services on December 6, 2023.

Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) was an extraordinary year for the Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS). Our activities within DVS are oriented around the Governor’s campaign pledge to make Virginia the best place for veterans to “live, work, and raise a family." We want veterans to STAY, WORK, and THRIVE in the Commonwealth. We want Virginia veterans to return to Virginia after their service, we want to keep as many veterans as possible who leave service in Virginia here after that service, we want to help veterans get jobs or grow their businesses, and we want to provide the ancillary services that will assist them in their own thriving.

Two major efforts underpin DVS activities during this FY. First, we conducted a pilot test of a version of the Gold Standard Digital Hub. While this demonstration pilot did not meet our requirements, we learned a great deal and will field an excellent product in FY24. Second, we began the strategic planning required by HB1759; this strategic plan is nearing completion and will make recommendations to the General Assembly and Governor for improvements to veteran care in the Commonwealth. Above all, DVS is focused on innovation and creating a customer-centric culture that attracts veterans to use our services.

Highlights of additional accomplishments in FY23:

• The Virginia Values Veterans (V3) program grew the number of V3 certified companies from 1,959 to 3,030 during this FY and increased the number of veterans hired to 126,000 since the program’s inception in 2013. This program will continue to mature through full integration into the Gold Standard Digital Hub.

• We developed the new VDVS Suicide Prevention Program, increasing partner capacity through a robust grant program and funding a series of research projects to better understand self-harm risk.

• Our benefits team submitted a record number of claims this year and fielded an appointment system that increases our throughput substantially. We also continued to develop the OKR concept to the point that individual benefits Veterans Service Representatives have individual OKRs to track their performance; to our knowledge we are the only state agency with individual OKRs (IOKRs).

• Virginia became the first state in the nation to bury a former reserve component service member in a State Cemetery under the new Burial Equity for Guards and Reserves Act

• The Sitter and Barfoot Veterans Care Center won the coveted award for “best nursing home in Virginia" from Newsweek Magazine, and the Jones & Cabacoy Veterans Care Center successfully opened in November.

I consider it a great privilege and honor to work with a team that remains passionate and dedicated to providing outstanding service to veterans and their families.

/s/ Daniel M. Gade, PhD.