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VA (Department of Veterans Affairs)

The United States has the most comprehensive system of assistance for veterans of any nation in the world. This benefits system traces its roots back to 1636, when the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony were at war with the Pequot Indians. The Pilgrims passed a law which stated that disabled soldiers would be supported by the colony. The establishment of the Veterans Administration came in 1930 when Congress authorized the President to "consolidate and coordinate Government activities affecting war veterans." (Source: www4.va.gov/about_va/vahistory.asp)

This forum also includes the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

Perhaps you are working for the VA or interested in working for the VA. Here is a forum to share your experience with the VA.

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OnTheRitz  
#1 Posted : Monday, March 05, 2012 9:22:06 PM(UTC)
OnTheRitz

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I am a current VA mental health provider, full time.  I've been offered a job with the Department of Army as a civilian provider.  So far, the Army has not cared about any of my needs during the HR paperwork process, and it has been ongoing for about 10 months now, and they have nixed student loan repayment as one of the incentives.  I also have an interview this Friday with a VA in the pacific northwest.  I like working for the VA, a lot.  I just don't like where I am right now. 

Can anyone comment on a career in the VA vs. a career in the Army as a civilian?  Everyone tells me that it is sooo hard to get on as an Army civilian.  I don't understand the benefits difference though?  Is there something better about being an Army civilian vs. being a VA employee, besides the obvious of getting to work with uniformed soldiers and families.  I am speaking to benefits and career longevity.  Maybe this post is better served in the DOD forum section but it does include the VA side, so someone with both experiences can respond.

Thanks!


edalder  
#2 Posted : Monday, March 05, 2012 9:49:28 PM(UTC)
edalder

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From the standpoint of civilian benefits, they are pretty much the same. The health plan offerings are the same, the FERS retirement system is the same, yada, yada.  There is not going to be a heck of a lot of difference there. I don't know about the pay because both agencies may have separate pay scales for health care professionals other than the GS one. I don't know a heck of a lot about that those systems. I am guessing, however, that starting salaries are going to be competitive.

You may or may not get student loan repayment assistance with the VA and, if you do, that would probably tip the balance in favor of the VA over the Army absent a significant difference in pay.

You won't necessary escape the tempo associated with war time scenario followed by a slowed tempo such as what may be coming now. The vets from Irag and Afghanistan are already coming home and more will be exiting military service over the next couple of years. This circumstance is going to place some heavy demands on the VA to provide health care services of all types, including counseling for PTSD, etc.

With the Army you probably mainly will be seeing active duty personnel and perhaps some of their dependents. With the VA, you are going to see homeless vets and some vets with serious issues of drug dependency, alcoholism, etc. I am not saying that you would never see this on active duty, but on a statistical basis, you'll probably see more of it with the VA, especially in your field.

With the Army the goal is going to be to return the soldier to duty, a duty that could include combat. If that does not happen, the person probably gets a medical discharge. With the VA, you may have more challenges in terms of the clientle, which after all is going to include some of those people that the various military services decided were unsuitable for continued service.





edalder2012-03-06 05:55:38
Kivi
OnTheRitz  
#3 Posted : Monday, March 05, 2012 10:20:15 PM(UTC)
OnTheRitz

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Thanks for that input.  Some of what you said I was already thinking, but it surely puts it in a perspective for me.  Ensure I treat the "whole" person is very important to me.  It was something I worry about with the Army, treating the soldier enough to return to duty.  The VA seems to win in this arena as it does not have a motive to return them to duty.  Thanks for the input!  Please keep the comments coming.  The more data I can get, the better decision I can make.

simchief  
#4 Posted : Monday, March 05, 2012 11:54:31 PM(UTC)
simchief

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Having worked as a federal civilian employee for Army (29-years) and Navy (3-years) I agree there is not much different in federal benefits; however job satisfaction rules.

Suggest you consider agency mission, location, and your personal growth, position duties, all based on your expectations and expected personal development and what your view is of future

 

Army wins in most cases; find a so called 'enduring installation' one that will be there for most of your career. At my last Army assignment, over 17-years, I observed medical employees at a major Army hospital, both military and civilian; they seemed pleased with schools available and were able to attend advanced conferences and courses.

 

Based on what they told me; job satisfaction was high, most enjoyed working with military patients, although long hours were the norm, comments as to their job rewarding their psychic were common.

 

Army also has possibility for more medical center locations than VA. Within Army system they usually work with current soldiers and their families. Retired veterans are on a space-available basis.

 

VA still supports those from other eras, such as me; WWII, Korea, Viet-Nam; much older individuals.

I'll be shoveling along: <br />Digger O'Dell
USAF  
#5 Posted : Tuesday, March 06, 2012 11:53:38 PM(UTC)
USAF

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I worked for the Air Force and the VA. Stay with Dept of Defense!!!! Civilian in the military is awesome and much more relaxed. You don't have non-veteran supervisers and managers breathing down your neck worried about numbers rather than patient care with DoD. My wife was a nurse with the VA and transferred to the Air Force and absolutely loves it. The VA is depressing and much like working for family services. You will be tasked with duties beyond your workload at the VA.
Cianhydle  
#6 Posted : Wednesday, March 07, 2012 1:03:27 AM(UTC)
Cianhydle

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The VA should be entirely staffed by veterans -- claims would be processed correctly, the backlog would disappear overnight, caring people would be there to treat sicknesses 24/7, and everyone would live happily ever after.
Fed Vet  
#7 Posted : Wednesday, March 07, 2012 3:33:11 AM(UTC)
Fed Vet

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USAF wrote:
I worked for the Air Force and the VA. Stay with Dept of Defense!!!! Civilian in the military is awesome and much more relaxed. You don't have non-veteran supervisers and managers breathing down your neck worried about numbers rather than patient care with DoD. My wife was a nurse with the VA and transferred to the Air Force and absolutely loves it. The VA is depressing and much like working for family services. You will be tasked with duties beyond your workload at the VA.
 
This is truth right there.  I work for a VA Hospital as an Electrician and I'm doing the job of 2 people.  Not only that, I also have to do IT work because my IT department is too lazy to do their job.  I've brought up the issue before to my direct supervisor but it seems that they don't really care, or are on the losing end of the argument with upper management. 
Fed Vet2012-03-07 11:43:03
OnTheRitz  
#8 Posted : Thursday, March 29, 2012 1:16:10 AM(UTC)
OnTheRitz

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Well, I just received a call on Monday from the hiring manager telling me that I have been selected and my name was referred to HR, the phone call was very exciting.  We both expressed how excited we are to collaborate together.  This is a lateral move, same agency transfer.  It's now Thursday and I haven't heard a word from HR.  Can someone explain to me this transfer process?  The hiring manager told me that he wants me ASAP.  I haven't gotten the official call from HR with a job offer, is that the next step?  A list of steps would be EXTREMELY helpful in this situation.

 
Thanks!
USAF  
#9 Posted : Thursday, March 29, 2012 9:41:05 PM(UTC)
USAF

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When I transferred I contacted my current HR and notified them. They in turn will contact your new HR (Army) and request a SF-50 showing you were selected and the date they are requesting as a start date. The SF-50 is the key to get the ball rolling. Get the contact person for each HR so they can coordinate. You have to stay on top of the VA HR because they can really screw it up and drag it out.
-Get a copy of your last LES from the VA! It is critical to show your pay and leave balances. The VA dragged their feet getting my leave balances transferred.
-Also, make sure you watch your FEHB (health insurance) as it could change at your new location or not be provided there at all.
-You will need to also make sure the VA issues SF-1150 to the Army HR showing they seperated and transferred you. The SF-1150 is where the VA HR messed things up as they didn't issue it and I had to keep bugging them day by day until they finally did. If they don't issue the 1150 you will stay assigned to the VA and your pay gets messed up.
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