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Veterans Survey Findings

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Over the past few months, I have written about efforts to seek input from Idaho veterans about their experiences with veterans' services.  On Veterans Day, I released the results of my Fall 2014 Veterans Survey.  The survey results are guiding my efforts on behalf of Idaho's veterans and are being shared with officials in Washington, D.C., and with the VA to help push meaningful policy changes.

More than 1,000 Idahoans from the veterans community participated in the survey.  More than 80 percent of survey participants took the time to provide additional, optional information about specific experiences with the VA.  The results of the Fall 2014 Veterans Survey are available on my official website at  The following are some of the major findings from the survey:

  • Approximately 51 percent of participants rated their experiences with the VA as "satisfying" or better. 
  • Around 30 percent of participants rated their experiences as "dissatisfying" or worse. 
  • Twenty-five percent of survey respondents expressed interest in assistance with an ongoing issue with the VA. 
  • Most of the participants' statements reflect the participants' experiences with VA timeliness and/or communication with the VA. 
  • Direct, open communication with veterans and their caregivers is critical in increasing veterans' faith in the VA. 

I asked Idahoans for their feedback to gain a better understanding of where to focus VA reform efforts following the reports of veterans having difficulty accessing care.  I met with veterans and veterans' advocacy groups throughout the state and asked Idahoans to share their unique perspectives on the VA.  Simply giving the VA more money is not an appropriate way to address the VA's problems.  The VA needs targeted, meaningful reforms that allow it to use its existing resources to better serve the needs of veterans.  Surveys of the satisfied veterans help identify best practices that may be applied in other areas.  The surveys of dissatisfied veterans identify areas of concern that should be addressed with the VA.  This includes a review of resource utilization in circumstances that are less than satisfying for Idaho's veterans. 

While it is promising to hear that many are happy with the VA, work must continue to address the concerns of the large number of people who are not.  Veterans' willingness to share their stories is greatly appreciated.  I will continue communication with VA leaders to ensure they understand the experiences of Idaho's veterans and act appropriately to meet their needs.  There are some hardworking VA staff who strive to fulfill the VA's mission "To fulfill President Lincoln's promise 'To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan' by serving and honoring the men and women who are America's veterans."  There are some individuals who need to be reminded of their mission.

Moving forward, I encourage all Idahoans to contact any of my offices for assistance with federal agencies when needed.  I will continue to monitor implementation of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act.  Ensuring that Idahoans are able to participate in the new Veterans Choice Program without experiencing significant delays when they are eligible is a priority.  Additionally, I am leading an effort to create a working group aimed at improving Idaho veterans' experiences with the VA.  Further, I plan to re-survey veterans in 2015 to see if the VA is making progress with all of the veterans it serves.

Thank you to all those who are assisting with this effort.  Together, we help ensure that veterans policy best supports these extraordinary individuals who put their lives on the line to safeguard our freedoms. 

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