DAV Magazine — March/April 2018
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Changes to improve volunteer onboarding
Bryan Lett

DAV recommends changes to improve efficiency, streamline process

The process of volunteering to help veterans through the Department of Veterans Affairs is about to get easier and faster.

In January, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. David J. Shulkin announced approval of several DAV recommendations brought forth by the VA Voluntary Service National Advisory Committee to expedite and streamline the process of onboarding volunteers. Since 2012, the number of volunteers and volunteer hours in the VA Voluntary Service Program has steadily decreased, a drop the committee felt was due to the sometimes lengthy procedures for accepting new volunteers.

Recommendations include streamlining and standardizing the onboarding process; using external technology solutions for interviews; increasing the availability of credentialing equipment; and permitting an individual’s primary care physician to complete physicals or use a community partner of the VA, such as, Walgreens to complete certain exams.

Varying practices between different VA medical centers and outsourcing tasks to multiple VA departments have proven to be hurdles to efficiency, meaning some individuals could be approved in two weeks while others may take up to four months to be fully approved and badged.

“This has been a widely reported and long-standing issue,” said VA Voluntary Service Director Sabrina Clark, the committee’s deputy chairperson. “Any change that results in more expedient processing of community citizens becoming volunteers is a win-win. Changing a process takes time, but I am excited that there is a desire and a strategic direction in place for this improvement.”

Although there is not an exact time frame for these changes to be implemented, they will be a part of a phased rollout plan during the upcoming year.

“Our goal and recommendation was to standardize and streamline a process across all VA Voluntary Service offices to ensure 80 percent of volunteers were fully credentialed within 30 days of the volunteer making contact with a veteran service organization or the VA,” said DAV National Voluntary Services Director John Kleindienst, who serves on the committee.

Made up of roughly 50 member organizations, the committee brought forth a number of recommendations and changes to help make the goal a reality, such as focusing on improving technological capabilities to interview volunteers remotely, performing in-house fingerprinting and printing badges on site.

“Getting these relatively simple items addressed goes a long way to simplifying the process, which means more volunteers and more help for veterans and their families,” Kleindienst said.

Learn More Online

To learn more about volunteer opportunities in your local area, please visit volunteerforveterans.org.