Q. What made you decide to participate in VA research?
I wanted to be a part of the solution. Also, I wanted to do my part to improve the experience for Veterans at my VA. I was a Medic and Corpsman in the military and I still had a desire to serve.
Q. Did you notice any changes after you participated in VA research?
At first no, but after 2-3 studies, I noticed a lot of gaps in what researchers know about Veterans. I also heard that until recently, there has not been a lot of Veterans' input in research. How can researchers know what the problems are if they don’t talk to Veterans who have been through or are going through certain experiences?
Eventually, there were some changes, but they didn’t come from the research studies. Instead, the studies helped me realize the structure of the VA. Most Veterans do not know that there is a difference between the VA and the Department of Defense; they see it as one system. The pictures they have of the two organizations don’t match and it builds distrust.
I started to see what the VA can and cannot do and I was able to give the VA more leeway and understanding. I went from the mindset that the VA was out to get me to the mindset of the VA doesn't know what it's doing. The VA has good intentions and it wants to help but some pieces are missing.