A new law is making it easier for Veterans to understand and access VA health care and services. The VA MISSION Act of 2018 calls for transformation in the way VA delivers health care, and brings the focus to Veterans through simplified rules, processes and policies. This enhances the Veteran experience for community-based care, telehealth, expansion of caregiver support, education and recruitment incentives for Veteran medical practitioners and many other aspects of the MISSION act. Considering the complexity of the changes and their impact on Veterans, it is critical to communicate with Veterans and engage them throughout the implementation.
- Strategic communications planning and development
- Digital event support
- Reporting and analytics
- Social media strategy
- Stakeholder engagement
- Web content development
VA leadership needs seamless, error-free communications that engage Veterans during this structural reinvention. Doing so requires Aptive to first engage with Veterans and other stakeholders on their critical information needs and translate these findings into actionable plans and communications. We reveal and address information gaps, recommend ways to improve communications and create strategies and materials to convey targeted information to Veterans.
Aptive launched a phased program to implement the MISSION Act that includes the following components:
Planning – We created awareness of MISSION Act impact and timeline for Veterans; developed materials and engaged Veteran-facing stakeholders across all programs; and coordinated messaging to Congressional, White House and other oversight organizations regarding VA’s mission to enhance the Veteran experience.
Strategy – Much like a software integrator, we acted as the integrator of communications efforts for the MISSION Act, interfaced with more than two dozen programs and teams at VA to communicate the changes to Veterans and VA employees, and answered questions in a user-friendly, timely way. We developed a plan to engage Veterans, Congress, and stakeholders that supported Veterans with outreach events, publications, social media activities and networking events. We assisted the program offices and the VA Office of Enterprise Integration in developing, reviewing and distributing communications to an expanded network of Veterans and their caregivers. We also assisted with VA’s responses to occasional unforeseen events that required quick, high-impact and responsive messaging.
Marketing and advertising – We integrated MISSION Act messages with VA’s larger campaigns
(e.g., ChooseVA). We developed proactive communications in the form of narratives describing the successes of MISSION Act implementation. These narratives are used by the official speech writers for VA and VHA leaders to maintain consistency of messaging.
Partner engagements – Outreach to intermediaries that serve Veterans and oversee community care or champion caregiver rights is critical. Communications are paired with the engagement of Veterans service organizations, collaborative events with strategic partners like the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, AARP and others to distribute information and materials and raise awareness among the Veterans and their families who use these services.
- Clearer communications – Communications are being simplified and reoriented through the prism of Veterans’ needs and requirements. VSOs have acknowledged that engagement with their organizations for communicating MISSION Act changes and gaining insight from them has been effective, and spanned the whole gamut of local, county, state and national chapters. Congressional staffers have reacted positively to large and small communications campaigns for MISSION Act programs like Community Care, Urgent Care, Caregivers Support Program, Veterans Healing Veterans and Peer Specialists, to name a few.
- Better services – Prompt and appropriate messaging to Veterans groups for Urgent Care has been a challenge as this is a new and complex benefit. However, more than one thousand Veterans on average have been using this benefit daily, which indicates that the communications reached target groups and conveyed the right message.
- Renewed platform for change – Aptive engaged with every office in VA and other organizations to build an extended and robust network to distribute communications to more than 10 million Veterans. The team collaborates with VHA, Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) and other VA offices to continually improve on this robust model so it can be replicated in other initiatives.
- Single pane of glass for progress reporting – On-demand dashboards provide a unified view of progress against milestones, and performance against key performance indicators.