The VA and Social Media

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The VA and Social Media

Go ahead and 'like' them

By Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN
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Recently the Veterans Administration has stepped up its use of social media, going so far as to issue a directive encouraging staff to use the various elements to interact more with the public. The VA currently has over 100 Facebook pages, 50 Twitter feeds, a YouTube channel, two blogs and a Flickr page. By the end of the year the administration hopes to have a Facebook page and a Twitter feed for each of the 152 centers nationwide.

A Cyber Mandate

Under the terms of the directive, Roger Baker the VA’s assistant director of IT and L. Tammy Duckworth assistant secretary for intergovernmental affairs will implement the mandate.

The policy document states, "Use of these tools supports VA's goal of achieving an interoperable, net-centric environment by improving employee effectiveness through seamless access to information."

It adds, "Web-based collaboration tools enable widely dispersed facilities and VA personnel to more effectively collaborate and share information, which can result in better productivity, higher efficiency, and innovation" (Healthbeat, August 18, 2011).

Getting Info to the Vets

The directive calls for the implementation of communications officers at each facility who will ensue that privacy and security guidelines are maintained and that content is current, accurate, and in tune with the individual department’s objectives. Brandon Friedman, VA director of online communications, said, "This isn't about using social media because it's cool or because it's a fad. It's about getting the right information to the right veteran at the right time" (Montalbano, InformationWeek 8/16).

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