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VA Rocky Mountain Network


VA 101: VISN 19 Hosts Congressional Staffers

Sunaina Kumar-Giebel briefs an audience of congressional staffers

Sunaina Kumar-Giebel briefs an audience of congressional staffers

By Jason T. Strickland
Thursday, February 23, 2023

The VA Rocky Mountain Network (VISN 19) hosted congressional representatives from the five primary states (Colorado, Montana, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming) in their region along with some staffers from bordering states, during a VA 101 Seminar in mid-February.

The seminar offered briefings from each of the Department’s three administrations, as well as presentations from the VHA VSO liaison and VHA’s Office of Integrated Veteran Care (IVC). Congressional representatives, case workers, and military/Veteran liaisons from Montana to Oklahoma descended (in-person and virtually) upon the network headquarters in Denver, Colorado, to exchange information with VA officials on behalf of their constituents.

Michael Rohrbach briefs an audience of congressional staffers

Michael Rohrbach briefs an audience of congressional staffers

A first in VISN 19

Hosted by VISN 19’s Interim Network Director, Ms. Sunaina Kumar-Giebel, the inaugural in-person and virtual hybrid event for congressional staffers was designed to improve relationships among congressional offices, each of the eight health care systems in VISN 19, and the network headquarters. Bringing in representatives from VBA’s Continental District and NCA’s Continental District, in addition to the VHA presentations, gave a comprehensive and unified VA perspective on the services and benefits available to Veterans.

Throughout the VA Rocky Mountain Network, VISN and facility leadership seek to continually improve communications and relationships with all their stakeholders. Based on the feedback received at this first event, the network is planning to host the seminar annually.

Timothy Miller briefs an audience of congressional staffers

Timothy Miller briefs an audience of congressional staffers

Positive outcomes

VISN 19 staff began planning the event in December 2022 and followed a model and agenda developed by the communications staff in VISN 8. The feedback received from participating congressional staffers testified to the event’s success.

“I really appreciate you all coordinating this. It’s been very helpful,” shared a caseworker from Oklahoma.

A representative for one of Montana’s Congresspersons said, “Thanks again for this forum – it’s fantastic!”

Lastly, someone representing a Senator in Oklahoma mentioned, “Thank you so much for having this forum.”

Seeking new ways to engage with critical stakeholders, this forum will likely serve as a launchpad to explore unique and innovative opportunities in the future. With Members across their catchment serving in key positions in the House and Senate – and being powerful advocates for Veteran care – VISN 19 will continue efforts to keep them informed, updated, and on the front-edge of activities that affect the Veterans they serve. Ultimately, this will help maintain trustworthy collaboration and positive relationships.

Download the presentations with the links below.

VHA 101 VEO Presentation
VBA 101 VISN Briefing
VA 101 NCA Fort Logan National Cemetery
VISN 19 Executive Overview
IMO Correspondence


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