WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs announced the establishment of an Agency Equity Team to ensure that VA delivers on its promise to provide world-class care and benefits to all Veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors — regardless of their age, race, ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, or sexual identity.
The Agency Equity Team, known as the I*DEA (inclusion, diversity, equity, and access) Council, will be responsible for helping VA improve outcomes for historically underserved Veterans, identifying and eliminating any disparities in VA health care and benefits, creating and implementing a VA Equity Action Plan, listening to and learning from historically underserved Veteran communities, and more. The Council will also work to eliminate disparities and barriers to recruit, hire, develop, promote, and retain employees, including those from historically underserved communities. The Council will report directly to VA’s Deputy Secretary.
VA also announced that it has created a new Equity Assurance Office within the Veterans Benefits Administration. This office will work in coordination with the I*DEA Council to eliminate any disparities in the delivery of earned benefits to Veterans, including disability benefits, housing benefits, GI Bill benefits, and much more. This office will be led by Laurine Carson and will report directly to the Office of the Under Secretary for Benefits.
VA is standing up the I*DEA Council and the VBA Equity Assurance Office as a part of its mission to provide world-class care and benefits to all Veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors. These efforts are also a part of executing President Biden’s Executive Orders on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, 13985 and 14091,whichcharged the federal government with advancing equity for all and addressing systemic racism in policies and programs.
“At VA, it’s our mission to serve all Veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors as well as they’ve served our country,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “This new Agency Equity Team will help us deliver on that promise, making sure that we provide every Veteran with the world-class care and benefits they deserve — no matter their age, race, ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, or sexual identity. The team’s first order of business will be identifying any disparities in VA health care and benefits and eliminating them.”
The new I*DEA Council is an evolution of VA’s I*DEA Sub-Council, which Secretary McDonough established in 2021 to embed inclusion, diversity, equity and access into all VA activities. The new action-oriented Council will be comprised of senior leaders from across VA, including leaders from the Veterans Health Administration, the Veterans Benefits Administration, the National Cemetery Administration, the Center for Women Veterans, the Center for Minority Veterans, and other parts of VA. The Council will be empowered to make decisions across VA to ensure equitable outcomes for Veterans, and it will work directly with historically underserved Veteran communities, as well as Veterans Service Organizations, Congressional partners, union partners, and others.
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