VHA 2023
Annual Report

VHA Leading the way

Medical Technology is Dramatically Improving Veterans’ Quality of Life

VA has long been a leader in medical technology. From prototyping prosthetics that connect to the brain’s electrical signals, allowing Veterans to “feel” their limbs again, to helping Veterans with spinal cord injuries walk again with the help of specialized walkers – VA continues to drive medical innovation in service of Veterans.

Many Veterans require assistive technology (AT) to perform various tasks, from complex movements like driving and playing sports to everyday tasks like using a phone or turning on a light. AT aims to maintain, increase, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. From 3D-printed makeup brush holders that aid in cosmetics application to a Smart White Cane that uses lidar sensors to detect the shape and distance of objects, AT has proven to be life-changing for many.

VA publishes an annual State of Innovation Report highlighting recent advancements in medical technology that are actively improving the health and well-being of Veterans across the country.

VA’s Office of Advanced Manufacturing has worked with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to host the AT Design Library on the NIH 3D-printing website where anyone can view the available products and their designs.

more than one Million Veterans enrolled in VA's Largest Research Program

The Million Veteran Program (MVP) — VA’s largest research effort and one of the largest genetic research programs of its kind in the world — surpassed its one millionth Veteran enrollment in 2023. The program, launched in 2011, studies how Veterans’ genes, lifestyles, and military experiences and exposures affect their health and well-being. With more than one million Veterans enrolled, researchers can study illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, PTSD, substance use disorders, and more and find new preventions and treatments for Veterans and all Americans.

Thanks to the enrolled Veterans, MVP has over 350 research publications, with around 100 from this past year on numerous health conditions. With each enrolled Veteran, MVP is one step closer to preventing and treating illnesses.

One in Four MVP participants are minority Veterans.

A genetic screening tool may help predict prostate cancer in male Veterans from different racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Nearly 100,000 women Veterans have enrolled in MVP.

VA is Dedicated to Preventing suicide and Caring for Veterans’ Mental Health

VA is making mental health care more accessible and practical for Veterans nationwide. VA has expanded telemental health options and integrated mental health into oncology, pain, and primary care clinics, ensuring Veterans have ready access to needed resources.

VA is also working to remove barriers to life-saving care. Now, eligible Veterans in acute suicidal crisis can go to any VA or non-VA health care facility for emergency health care at no cost – including inpatient or crisis residential care for up to 30 days and outpatient care for up to 90 days.

Providing Veterans with the best possible mental health care requires exploring all treatment options. Following discussions with clinicians, scientists, and health policymakers, VA will begin funding research this year into the safe and effective use of psychedelic-assisted therapies for treating conditions like PTSD and depression.

VA Mental Health providers conducted more than 17.7M visits with more than 1.9M Veterans.

More than 49,700 Veterans in suicidal crisis received free emergency health care.

VA received OVER 1M calls, texts, and chats to the Veteran Crisis Line – showing more Veterans than ever are aware of and accessing these services when in need.

Making Health Care More Accessible for Veterans

Telehealth enables Veterans to receive health care on their own terms. Along with in-person care teams, telehealth gives Veterans and their caregivers equitable access to a broader range of services and specialty care, regardless of where they live. VA is expanding telehealth offerings to cater to the individual needs of Veterans, ranging from video calls and blood pressure monitoring to specialized care such as colorectal cancer screenings and remote wound care. Veterans accessed more digital health resources in 2023, with VA providing telehealth care to more Veterans than ever before.

VA is leading digital health research and developing innovative technologies as the nation’s largest telehealth provider. From telehealth technology to digital health tools like My HealtheVet and VA Mobile Apps, VA is dedicated to improving Veterans’ care.

Over 2.4m unique Veterans accessed telehealth care, representing about 40% of Veterans served in VA.

11.6m telehealth encounters delivered to Veterans, including over 9.4m to Veterans in the home or other offsite locations.

Veteran trust (86.9%) and satisfaction (89.9%) with telehealth services increased for the third consecutive year.

Immersive Technology is Defining a New Reality in VA Health Care

VA Immersive is defining a new reality in health care through virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), reinforcing why Veterans choose VA. VA is using VR and AR to treat Veterans experiencing health challenges, such as PTSD and chronic pain, to reduce employee burnout, and to improve training experiences. VA is excited about the potential for immersive technologies and is committed to being a global leader in extended reality.

60 sites offer VR-based chronic pain and suicide prevention-related experiences, 15 sites now offer an at-home VR option for chronic low back pain.

172 VA facilities offer immersive technology like virtual reality and augmented reality.

As of the end of 2023, over 3,000 VR headsets have been distributed across the enterprise to enhance care for Veterans, allowing for more than 7,000 unique Veteran experiences.

Adapting Cancer Care to Meet the Needs of Veterans 

The American Society of Clinical Oncology reports that 66% of rural counties lack oncologists, leaving Veterans who live in those regions without access to cancer care providers. VA has responded by prioritizing access to top-rated physicians and cancer care specialists nationwide through National TeleOncology (NTO). Working with VA medical facility partners, NTO delivers diagnostics and treatment — including genetic counseling, care coordination, and palliative care — regardless of where Veterans live.

VA’s dedication to continuous improvement means that patients receiving their cancer care at VA have access to clinical trials and novel treatments that may offer hope beyond standard treatment. VA is scaling best practices and driving innovation, implementing programs that bring infusion services closer to where Veterans live, and offering genetic counseling to those who might benefit from germline genetic testing or whose close family members might be impacted.

More than 9,900 Veterans have received care through NTO since its launch, with nearly 50% living in rural locations.

Over $1.25M saved in medication costs through VA's Close to Me Infusion service, which brings anti-cancer therapies closer to where Veterans live.

Close to Me has saved over 170,000 miles of travel for Veterans across the country.

VA Hired More Skilled Employees than Ever Before to Deliver Care to Veterans

VA hired more people than ever before in 2023. VA hired 34,883 new external employees within “Big 7” occupations critical to caring for Veterans, including physicians, nurses, licensed practical nurses, nursing assistants, medical support assistants, housekeeping aides, and food service workers.

It takes an undivided, engaged, and robust workforce to deliver superior care to our nation’s Veterans, and VA is dedicated to delivering that care every single day through skilled employees. Thanks to VA’s record hiring in 2023, VA has the nationwide staffing level it needs to ensure that – whenever possible – Veterans have every chance to get their care at VA, because that is how Veterans do better.

VA hired 61,942 new external employees, surpassing its previous annual record by 25%.

VA improved employee retention to pre-COVID rates, with an 8.4% loss rate well below the average of 9.7% and last year’s 11.0% loss rate.

VA grew its workforce by 7.4% – or 28,233 employees – the largest increase in over 15 years. 

PACT Act Expanded Care to Help More Veterans with Military Environmental Exposures

The Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act was signed into law at the end of fiscal year 2022, marking one of the biggest expansions of Veteran benefits ever. The law expands VA health care and benefits for Veterans exposed to burn pits, Agent Orange, and other toxic substances. Upon enactment, VA began the largest outreach effort in its history, hosting thousands of events, sending millions of letters and emails directly to Veterans, and launching the first-ever text message outreach campaign. In 2023, more than 365,000 Veterans enrolled in VA health care, and millions more received their toxic exposure screening. The screening acts as a conversation starter for Veterans to share any potential exposure concerns with their provider, ensuring they receive exposure-informed care throughout their lifetime. Of the more than 5 million Veterans who received the screening by the end of the year, 43% reported at least one potential exposure

The PACT Act expanded health care eligibility for Veterans of the Vietnam, Gulf War, and Post-9/11 eras. 

 more than 48,000 Veterans enrolled for care in  September 2023, the second highest month of health care enrollments in VA’s history.

In December 2023, VA surpassed 5M Toxic Exposure Screenings, far exceeding its initial goal of 4m by November 2023.

VA Housed Over 46,000 Veterans in 2023

VA is committed to ending homelessness among Veterans because it is our nation’s duty to ensure all Veterans have a place to call home. VA permanently housed over 46,000 Veterans in 2023. Throughout the year, VA staff and community partners helped Veterans find housing, such as apartments or houses that Veterans could rent or own, often with a subsidy to help make the housing affordable. VA staff also helped some Veterans end their homelessness by reuniting them with family and friends.

95.9% of the Veterans housed remained in housing — and of the 1,919 Veterans who returned to homelessness, 96.4% have been rehoused or placed on a pathway to re-housing.

46,552 Veterans permanently housed in 2023.

40,203 unsheltered Veterans have been engaged to ensure they access the housing resources they need.

VA Remains a Leader in Innovative Veteran Health Care

VA has a long and rich history of research and innovation, beginning with the establishment of the first research lab after World War I in 1925 and the formal creation of the Office of Research and Development after World War II in 1946. From developing the cardiac pacemaker and performing the first successful liver transplant, to discovering the link between cigarette smoking and cancer and developing the nicotine patch, VA has made countless strides forward in medicine that have changed the lives of not only Veterans but the whole world.

600+ medical patents

8 Lasker DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Awards

3 Nobel prizes

Learn more about the programs and initiatives supporting every aspect of Veterans’ health through the links below.