The Department of Veteran Affairs Establishes New Social Media Policy

Eric Shinseki, Secretary of VA

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released a new policy directive that secures the use of web-based collaboration and social media tools. The “VA Directive 6515: Use of Web-Based Collaboration Technologies” will allow the VA to leverage emerging platforms that enhance communication, stakeholder outreach, and information exchange as the department transforms itself into a 21st Century organization attuned to the needs of Veterans of all generations. It provides encouragement for VA employees to adopt the use of social media.

“Veterans should have consistent and convenient access to reliable VA information real time using social media —whether on a smartphone or a computer,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “They also should be able to communicate directly with appropriate VA employees electronically.”

The policy establishes workplace boundaries and the VA’s philosophy for communication: The VA is open, transparent and willing to engage and collaborate with its stakeholders online. The VA launched its various social media sites back in 2009, including its 100+ Facebook pages, 50+ Twitter feeds, 2 blogs, a YouTube channel and a Flickr page. With its combined readership of over 293,000 fans, the VA is definitely not lagging behind in social media.

“This isn’t about using social media because it’s cool or because it’s a fad,” said VA Director of Online Communications Brandon Friedman. “It’s about getting the right information to the right Veteran at the right time. This policy sets us on a path toward changing how we talk—and listen—to Vets.”

By the end of this year, the Department hopes to have active Twitter feeds and Facebook pages for all of its 152 VA Medical Centers.

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