On Thursday, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced its new, more inclusive mission statement.
The new mission statement is: To fulfill President Lincoln's promise to care for those who have served in our nation’s military and for their families, caregivers, and survivors.
“The stories those words tell, those stories matter,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said during a March 16 event at the Women’s War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia commemorating the new mission statement.
The new mission statement is inclusive of all those who have served in the nation’s military — including women veterans — as well as veteran families, caregivers, and survivors.
The previous mission statement was: “To fulfill President Lincoln’s promise ‘to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan’ by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s veterans.
In crafting the new mission statement, VA surveyed roughly 30,000 veterans. Among those surveyed, the new version of the mission statement was chosen over the current version by every age group; by men and by women; by LGBTQ+ veterans; and by white, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian and American Indian/Alaska Native veterans.
“This is an important step and as necessary as it is to the mission, we have to continue improving access, delivering outcomes, earning the trust of all those we serve,” McDonough said.
McDonough said women make up the fastest-growing cohort of veterans in the country today.
“The stories of women veterans and their achievements throughout our country’s history are integral chapters in VA’s stories,” he added.
VA currently serves more than 600,000 women veterans. It also serves more than 50,000 veteran caregivers, more than 600,000 veteran survivors, and millions of veterans who did not serve in combat.
“In the places and spaces that committed to helping me heal my visible and invisible wounds from war, I never expected to feel unseen,” said West Point graduate and U.S. Army veteran Mary Tobin. “Today, in the words reflected in this new motto, all those who served and sacrificed for this country can finally be seen.”
In addition to two rounds of surveys, VA conducted dozens of small-group engagements with veterans to understand what was most important to them in a VA mission statement, then incorporated that feedback into quantitative research.
“Our warriors’ injuries and the challenges that come with them may never go away, but today VA has made such a difference by hearing our voices and telling us clearly that VA is invested in our well-being as caregivers,” said Dr. Pat Ochan, caregiver to her Marine veteran husband who served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We finally feel seen. We finally feel appreciated for the incredible service we provide to our veterans.”
The previous mission statement is posted in roughly 50% of VA’s facilities. Over the coming months, the new mission statement will replace the previous version.
Reach Julia LeDoux at Julia@connectingvets.com.