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VA Rocky Mountain Network


VA network director stands strong on VA excellence

VA Network Director

VA Network Director Sunaina Kumar-Giebel

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Sunaina Kumar-Giebel became the director of the VA Rocky Mountain Network (Veterans Integrated Service Network [VISN] 19) in January 2023. With a master’s degree in health administration and 18 years of VA experience, Kumar-Giebel is propelled by a love of health care and serving Veterans that began as a child.

Continuing a legacy of caring for others

“Health care has always been in my family,” she said. “Everyone is either a doctor or works in the health care industry.”

She credits her mother, who worked in radiology, for instilling her passion. Kumar-Giebel watched her mom taking care of those who served our country.

“Growing up, I always saw how she valued her time with Veterans,” said Kumar-Giebel. “She provided that foundation for me, to be a servant leader in whatever I do. She also encouraged me to apply at VA.”

What VA does well

Kumar-Giebel has experience with the civilian health care system and is proud that VA’s commitment to Veterans is patient-centric instead of profit-driven.

“We talk about budget, but that’s not what drives us,” she said, noting that VA’s core values emphasize quality of care and patient experience. “At VA, I know I’m making a positive impact on the lives of Veterans and their families.”

Kumar-Giebel holds special appreciation for the Veterans cared for at VA and acknowledges the sacrifices they made serving their country. She feels it is her mission to make their lives better.

“They’ve given so much, to the point where people were physically hurt,” she said. “Not all wounds are seen. I want to do everything I can to ensure the services our Veterans need and deserve are available.”  

A philosophy of integrated health care

She believes health care is about treating the whole person, not just critical needs.

With a Veteran-centric focus, VA health care can serve as the first step toward healing and strength. A primary care appointment may be the spark that connects Veterans to specialty care, social support groups, physical or recreational therapy, home-based primary care, chronic pain therapy, caregiver support, housing and career assistance, and more.

Kumar-Giebel is also proud of her VA coworkers, who have their own reasons for serving Veterans.

“It brings us all together for one unique mission,” she said. “We are proud of the work we do to deliver high-quality health care. If we see a need for a Vet, we figure out how to get it done. If there are barriers, it challenges us even more.”

Adaptability and innovation

When Kumar-Giebel assesses the future of VA, she acknowledges that care needs will be vast as the Veteran population ages.

“Some will need nursing homes or community living centers, and some may need a more geriatric or psychiatric atmosphere,” she explained. “VA has begun investing in infrastructure to meet those need and incorporate programs that allow Veterans to stay in their homes as they grow older.”

For younger Veterans, Kumar-Giebel wants to increase access to and engagement with behavioral and mental health programs. Under her leadership, VISN 19 will continue removing stigmas that stand between a Veteran and healing.

VA’s history of innovation continues to guide its future

“VA is always at the forefront of everything! We’ve done the first lung transplant—a lot of the first, high-profile procedures,” said Kumar-Giebel. “We are focused on technology, such as artificial intelligence, and on tools that will help remove administrative burdens from our providers, so they can spend more face-to-face time treating our Veterans.” 

Kumar-Giebel wants to expand community outreach and partnerships as well.

“I feel strongly about going to schools to introduce VA and our Veterans to the younger generation, many of whom have parents who served,” she said. “It can help them understand, no matter your career path, you can serve your country by working for VA.”

Registering is the first step

Kumar-Giebel encourages all Veterans to enroll in VA health care and consider the many resources. Beyond health care services, Veterans may also qualify for and learn about benefits, such as housing and educational programs.

“You’ve earned these benefits and you deserve them,” she said. “By using VA health care, you contribute to the health of our organization and ensure we'll be here for future generations of Veterans."

She explained that when a Veteran accesses their VA benefits, it does not mean they are taking away services from someone else.

“It means we can understand Veterans’ needs and adequately plan to provide services for all,” said Kumar-Giebel. “Veterans are a family. We’re here to take care of you.”

For more information, visit the VISN 19 website.

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April Love is a writer-editor on the VISN 19 Creative Task Force. She began working for VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System in 2016 and lives in Aurora, Colorado.


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