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U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill visits Veterans Home; gives survey results

Kicking off Memorial Day weekend, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill visited the Missouri Veteran’s Home in Cape Girardeau Friday to announce the newest round of results of her Veterans’ Customer Satisfaction Program, a confidential secret shopper survey that has given thousands of Missouri veterans an opportunity to offer direct, meaningful feedback on the quality of customer service they receive at their local Veteran Affairs facility.

The survey was first introduced in 2011 amid reports of unsanitary surgical equipment at John Cochran VA Medical Center in St. Louis. McCaskill decided to work directly with veteran groups and get survey results from the people using the facilities. Today, the survey covers every VA facility in the state.

The surveys are turned over to the VA every year, and McCaskill said she has seen significant changes to these facilities due to the survey. She said the people who work at VA healthcare facilities have used the constructive critisims to solve many of the problems the survey presented.

McCaskill said the improvements at VA facilities have ranged from adding call centers to helping veterans  more easily set up appointments to making sure signage helps veterans know where to go.

Over the four years the survey has been given in Southeast Missouri, the number of veterans who would not recommend VA facilities to another veteran has dropped from 25 percent to 12 percent.

The region has the greatest gains this year in the ease of making appointments and communication between VA staff and veterans. McCaskill said Southeast Missouri saw satisfaction increases in every category asked about this year.

“What we need to do is continue to keep putting resources into the VA system, keep having surveys like this to hold them accountable and keep making it as good as we can possibly make it, because nobody deserves it more than our veterans,” McCaskill said.

These surveys will continue to track how VA facilities are functioning and will expand this year to see how the Veterans Choice Program is working. The choice program, which McCaskill supports, allows veterans to receive medical care from private facilities when the VA cannot provide the care.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past four years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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