recommended reading

Looking for friends in all the right places: VA expands its Facebook presence

The Veterans Affairs Department passed an important milestone Wednesday in its use of social media to build relationships veterans: All 152 of its medical centers are now connected with veterans, their families and the public on Facebook.

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said he viewed the widespread use of Facebook by VA hospitals as a transformative event that changes the way the department communicates with veterans. He added that veterans helped provide the impetus for VA's embrace of social media. "Veterans and their families told us from the beginning that they want to engage and they want relevant information delivered at the local level. By leveraging Facebook, the department continues to expand access to VA and embrace transparency and two-way conversation," Shinseki said.

Veterans Affairs dipped into social media with one Facebook page in 2008 and now has its own YouTube channel, 64 Twitter feeds, a Flickr page and the veteran-run VAntage Point blog. This June, VA formalized its social media policy, which encourages employees to use digital media to interact with the public, particularly veterans.

The department currently has more than 345,000 combined Facebook subscribers. VA's main Facebook page has more than 154,000 fans and its medical centers have a combined subscribership of more than 69,000. The department plans to continue expanding its Facebook presence as well as bring Twitter to every VA medical center.

VA clinicians can't discuss the specific health concerns of individual veterans on Facebook, but that doesn't prevent staff from monitoring its sites closely each day. The department's crisis line counselors have successfully intervened on Facebook in cases where veterans have suggested suicidal thoughts or emotional crises.

Brandon Friedman, VA's director of online communications and an Army veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, said social media helps the department get the right information to the right person at the right time. Veterans of the current wars use social media, Friedman said, "so that's where we need to be."

Threatwatch Alert

Stolen laptop

Wireless Heart Monitor Maker to Pay $2.5M Settlement to HHS After Laptop Stolen

See threatwatch report

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.