VA Launches Facebook Pages for All 152 Medical Centers

Strategy Enables Returning Vets to Engage with VA at the Local Level


WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs announced today that all of its 152 medical centers are now actively represented on Facebook, the world’s largest social networking site.

“This event marks an important milestone in the overall effort to transform how VA communicates with Veterans and provide them the health care and benefits they have earned,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.  “Veterans and their families told us from the beginning that they want to engage and they want relevant information delivered at the local level.  By leveraging Facebook, the Department continues to expand access to VA, and embrace transparency and two-way conversation.”

The process that began with a single Veterans Health Administration Facebook page in 2008 has now produced over 150 Facebook pages, 64 Twitter feeds, a YouTube channel, a Flickr page, and the VAntage Point blog.  Additionally, in June 2011, VA produced a Department-wide social media policy that provides guidelines for communicating with Veterans online.  The overarching strategy is designed to help break down long-perceived barriers between the Department and its stakeholders.

“Veterans of all eras are depending on us to get the right information to the right person at the right time,” said Brandon Friedman, VA’s director of online communications, and a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan.  “With more troops returning home, we also have a responsibility to connect with the thousands of Servicemembers who have been—and will be—entering our system.  They’re using social media, so that’s where we need to be.  Facebook helps us do that.”

“We are very pleased to have pioneered social media in VA, and now our VA medical centers across the nation are all engaged,” said Dr. Robert Petzel, under secretary for health.  “We are committed to helping Veterans understand their benefits and receive the health care their service has earned them.”

VA clinicians can’t discuss the specific health concerns of individual Veterans on Facebook, but that doesn’t prevent staff from monitoring VA’s sites closely each day—and providing helpful information to Veterans when they can.  In the last year, for instance, VA’s Crisis Line counselors have successfully intervened on Facebook in cases where Veterans have suggested suicidal thoughts or presented with other emotional crises.

“Facebook’s mission is to make the world more open and connected and we are excited to see government agencies using our service to better to connect with citizens, provide information, and deliver services,” said Don Faul, Facebook’s vice president of online operations, a former U.S. Marine and a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. “We want to do all we can to support Veterans, so we’re pleased to see the Department of Veterans Affairs using Facebook connect with Veterans in an authentic and engaging way.”

VA currently has over 345,000 combined Facebook subscribers (or, “fans”).  The Department’s main Facebook page has over 154,000 fans and its medical centers have a combined subscribership of over 69,000.  The Department plans to continue expanding its Facebook presence while also focusing on bringing Twitter to every VA medical center as well.

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2 Responses to "VA Launches Facebook Pages for All 152 Medical Centers"

  1. Ken Smith  December 28, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    So let me get this right. The VA can’t seem to process tens of thousands of claims in a timely manner, but they can get a Facebook page for each VAMC? What the hell is wrong with these people?

  2. P40BOB  December 24, 2011 at 7:59 am

    So much for Shinseki’s open transparent and two way communications. her at the Wade park VA hospital in Cleveland , Ohio it’s till a one way street with communications with the VA. You are told you can only talk with one patient advocate and he has lied for 4 1/2 year adn tried to cover-up for the illegal actions of the VAH. When you contact the VA HQ in D.C. , you get to talk to keith pierce and he says talk to the Patien advocate at wade park, Keith Dixon, the guy who has lied and covered-up for his VA buddies for 4 1/2 years stalled out sending paperwork for a tort claim till the statued of limitations ran out to file for the claim. Then even when the head of VA mental health call the VAh and says to put me on Fee Basis for my mental health as after what the VA has done they can’t treat me, they do nothing. So much for VA communications, it’s ALL LIES.

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