Department Welcomes New Volunteers, Strategic Partnerships to Better Serve Veterans

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced that the 2015 Summer of Service initiative, which launched in May, has exceeded the goals set for community volunteers serving Veterans and the development of new partnerships to reach Veterans and their family members. VA’s Summer of Service mobilized approximately 300,000 citizens across the country to honor the nation’s sacred commitment to caring for Veterans.

“Community by community, state by state, VA and the country came together to serve those who have served this nation. I am incredibly proud of the hundreds of thousands of volunteers who came into VA facilities to stand alongside our hard-working employees to help America’s Veterans,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald. “At VA, we know that there is more work to do to serve America’s heroes. We cannot do it alone. This summer, the American people recognized our vital role caring for those who have borne the battle and joined us in this sacred mission. Committed employees and volunteers, and strong partnerships, are the cornerstone of our efforts to transform this Department into one that Veterans and all citizens can be proud of.”

The Summer of Service built upon the Department’s existing partnerships to grow the number of individuals and organizations serving Veterans in their communities. VA facilities nationwide worked closely with their Congressional partners, Veterans Service Organizations, Mayors and local communities, private sector and non-profit organizations, and VA employees in unprecedented ways to support VA’s commitment to care for those who “have borne the battle” and their families.

Through VA’s outstanding volunteer program, the Department engaged approximately 300,000 volunteers around the country, far exceeding our goal of 100,000 volunteer connections.  Through the work of Veterans Service Organizations and other community/civic groups, supplemental services and programs were made available for America’s Veterans.

In May, VA committed to growing our partnerships with new MOUs and expanding current agreements to reach more than 15,000 Veterans and family members. VA’s new, reenergized, and expanded partnerships, with NASCAR, the United States Tennis Association, PsychArmor and many others, reached 40,683 Veterans and their family members, nearly tripling our goal.

As part of VA’s Summer of Service, the Department committed to holding VA Open Houses in VA facilities across the country to spur increased local engagement and welcome members of the community interested in supporting the needs of Veterans. Over the course of the summer, VA held more than 130 open houses across the system.

This year, VA has made progress on the many challenges we face in delivering care and benefits to Veterans and their families, completing more than 61.5 million appointments between July 1, 2014 and July 31, 2015 – an increase of 2.36 million more appointments than were completed during the same time period in 2013-2014. VA created over 2.7 million authorizations for Veterans to receive care in the private sector between August 16, 2014, and August 15, 2015, a 21-percent increase in authorizations when compared to the period ranging from August 2013 to August 2014. The backlog of disability claims (claims pending more than 125 days) is 93,674 as of September 7, an 85-percent reduction from its peak of 611,000 claims in March 2013 and the lowest ever in VA’s history since 2007, when VA started measuring the backlog.

In an effort to improve the Veteran’s customer service experience, VA has begun the most comprehensive re-organization in its history.  The initiative, called MyVA, has been guided by ideas and recommendations from Veterans, employees and stakeholders.

VA takes its commitment to care for the Nation’s Veterans and their families very seriously, and encourages communities to stay engaged in serving Veterans:

  • Look for VA at community events and engage our employees and partners.
  • Call your local facility to find out what you can do to help.
  • Check out VA on Vantage Point, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and join us in caring for America’s Veterans.

To volunteer at a VA medical facility or national Cemetery, visit To join VA full-time, visit or

# # #



Largest Wheelchair Sporting Event Provides Therapeutic Benefit to Disabled U.S. Veterans


WASHINGTON – More than 600 of America’s best wheelchair athletes, all disabled U.S. military Veterans, are arriving in Dallas, Texas, for the 35th National Veterans Wheelchair Games being held there June 21–26, 2015. The Wheelchair Games is occurring this year during the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) “Summer of Service,” an initiative designed to build upon existing partnerships to grow the number of individuals and organizations serving Veterans in their communities.

“The Wheelchair Games is a great example of courage and athleticism,” said VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald. “If you want to see grit, determination and some of the finest athletes on the planet, this week in Dallas is the place to do it.  These Veterans have overcome obstacles, they’ve trained, they’ve persevered, and now they’re ready to compete on the world’s stage.”

VA and Paralyzed Veterans of America present the Games each year. The multi-event sports rehabilitation program is open to U.S. military Veterans who use wheelchairs for sports competition due to spinal cord injuries, amputations or certain neurological problems, and who receive care at VA medical facilities or military treatment centers.

“For 35 years now the National Veterans Wheelchair Games have provided a venue for veterans to experience the life-changing power of adaptive sports,” said Al Kovach Jr., national president of Paralyzed Veterans of America. “We’re proud to partner with the Department of Veterans Affairs each year to present the Games, and encourage the Dallas community to come out and support our veteran athletes.”

VA research and clinical experience verify that physical activity is important to maintaining good health, speeding recovery and improving overall quality of life. For many injured Veterans, the Games provide their first exposure to wheelchair athletics. Veterans competing in the Games come from nearly every state, as well as Puerto Rico and Great Britain.

Opening ceremonies will be held at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Main Arena, 650 S. Griffin St., where many of the week’s competitive events will be held. The closing ceremonies will be held at the Sheraton Downtown Dallas Ballroom, 400 N. Olive St.  Other events will be held at Southern Methodist University, Victory Plaza, Fair Park, McKinnish Park, Ellis County Sportsman Club and many more venues around the Dallas metroplex.

For a complete schedule of events and additional information about the National Veterans Wheelchair Games visit For more information about the Summer of Service initiative, visit


# # #


Crisis Hotline for our Veterans

March 6, 2015

Statement from Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald on Oscar Win for HBO Documentary Highlighting Life-Saving Work of Veterans Crisis Line Washington – Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald issued the following statement on the Oscar win for the HBO documentary CRISIS HOTLINE: VETERANS PRESS 1. “We are pleased that this film has […]

Read the full article →

Pennsylvania AMVET flag flown in Afghanistan

April 29, 2013

Here is the AMVETS flag that Pa National Guardsman and AMVETS Post 293 Member Stephen LaPlaca had 1st LT Gumpf fly for the AMVETS in Afghanistan.

Read the full article →