What's new in the VHA Office of Health Equity?

Veterans Health Logo


September 9, 2016

New Discussion Paper on Veteran Homelessness

data sharing collaboration to end homelessness

Homelessness is a major issue in the United States. Among adults, military veterans are at increased risk. To bring more attention to this health equity issue, the VHA Office of Health Equity (OHE) is pleased to share an agency effort to combat Veteran homelessness published by the National Academy of Medicine. The effort seeks to combat challenges in identifying homeless individuals and now serves as an emerging best practice in the VHA.

The data-sharing initiative described in the new publication was reported in the 2015 OHE-initiated VHA Health Equity Environmental Scan. The Scan sought to establish a baseline of activities that advance health equity in the VA. Medical centers and program offices were asked to identify programs and other activities related to the five focal areas of the VHA Health Equity Action Plan:

  1. Awareness
  2. Leadership
  3. Health system and life experience
  4. Cultural and linguistic competency
  5. Data, research, and evaluation

The VHA Health Equity Action Plan is the agency’s strategic framework for achieving health equity.

Visit https://nam.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Local-Bidirectional-Data-Sharing-Collaboration-to-End-Veteran-Homelessness-The-Erie-Model.pdf to read the article.

Visit http://www.va.gov/homeless/ to take action and end Veteran homelessness.

Citation: MR Wehrer, MA Tomlinson, KT Jones, and US Uchendu. (2016). Local bidirectional data-sharing collaboration to end veteran homelessness: The Erie model. National Academy of Medicine, Washington, DC.  

VA Responds to the Commission on Care Recommendations

On September 1, 2016, the VA responded to the Commission on Care recommendations that were issued in July. Also, President Obama issued his response to Congress regarding the recommendations.

Included in the 18 recommendations was a call for the elimination of health disparities. Specifically, the Commission made the following recommendation:

Recommendation #5 – Eliminate health care disparities among veterans treated in the VHA Care System by committing adequate personnel and monetary resources to address the causes of the problem and ensuring the VHA Health Equity Action Plan is fully implemented. 

  • VHA work to eliminate health disparities by establishing health care equity as a strategic priority.
  • VHA provide the Office of Health Equity adequate resources and level of authority to successfully build cultural and military competence among all VHA Care System providers and employees.
  • VHA ensure that the Health Equity Action Plan is fully implemented with adequate staffing, resources, and support.
  • VHA increase the availability, quality, and use of race, ethnicity, and language data to improve the health of minority veterans and other vulnerable veteran populations with strong surveillance systems that monitor trends in health status, patient satisfaction, and quality measures.

The Commission on Care’s Final Report is available at https://commissiononcare.sites.usa.gov/files/2016/07/Commission-on-Care_Final-Report_063016_FOR-WEB.pdf.

VA's analysis of the Commission on Care's recommendations, including those recommendations focusing on health equity, is available at the following website: https://myva.va.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Commission-on-Care-SECVA-to-POTUS-memo.pdf.

Office of Health Equity Milestone—Over 10,000 Unique Subscribers!

Thank you

The number of unique subscribers to the Office of Health has now grown to over 10,000. The first announcement on the listserv was delivered on February 24, 2016. The listserv was launched in an effort to raise awareness of Veteran health equity.

In the words of OHE Chief Officer, Uchenna S. Uchendu, MD, “The pursuit of health equity should be everyone’s business. It is a journey that takes time and effort. What can you do today in your area of influence to improve health equity?” Let’s continue to raise awareness and encourage friends, family, and colleagues to learn more about Veteran health equity issues.

Visit http://www.va.gov/HEALTHEQUITY/Updates.asp to subscribe to the listserv and read previous posts.