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In this special two-part interview, Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary James Byrne discusses priorities at the Department, including the rollout of electronic health records and preventing veteran suicide.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is going into 2020 with many initiatives to improve their care for the nation’s veterans. These include new interoperable Electronic Health Records and implementing more social programs. James Byrne, deputy secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, says that the rollout is difficult because they’re doing so much all at once.


“We are doing a lot at the same time. If we had the luxury of phasing it in over 15-20 years, then it wouldn’t be as hard. We are fortunate that we are well funded by Congress and the American taxpayer. We have a great leadership team and great employees to implement it,” Byrne said. “It is just the realization that it is hard doing so many things that are co-dependent on each other at the same time. I’m really proud of the team as they are moving it forward. We are building up a lot of great momentum, and you should be proud of your VA and what they are doing.”


Byrne told Government Matters that VA’s Task Force initiative to stop veteran suicides is progressing well, and is bolstered by their growing partnerships with other organizations.


“Anybody who wants to come under the umbrella, we invite them to do so. That’s what the Task Force is all about, harnessing the resources of our country. Where the veterans are, so they can be well and thrive where they are,” Bryne said. “I want them to come to the VA. I think we do a magnificent job, our numbers reflect that as well. The satisfaction, the quality of care, particularly in mental health. But the reality is they may not want to come to the VA. For some reason, they want to go somewhere else. Where they go, we want to help that organization help the veterans.”

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February 2023
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