The Washington Post

New VA training video produced by Iraq vet

Updated 10:57 a.m. ET

This is not your typical training video.

With thousands of military veterans returning regularly from Iraq and Afghanistan, the Department of Veterans Affairs is facing new pressures to adapt and serve a new generation that still regularly refuses government-backed health care and benefits provided to them.

Consistent with a push to use the Internet and social media to help turn around its reputation as obstructionist, antiquated and overwhelmed, the VA recently hired U.S. Army veteran Kyle Hausmann-Stokes to produce a new four-minute training video for department employees and new hires.

“Doubts” cost the VA about $18,000 to produce and stars a reluctant young Army veteran who is dropped off outside the VA Greater Los Angeles Health Care System. In the video above (or here), you hear a veteran’s voiced-over thoughts as he walks through the lobby. He’s concerned no one will listen to him, that he’s not worthy of the care, and that various veterans programs don’t work. But the myths are quickly dispelled as he walks through the building.

The film ends with a VA physician asking the veteran, “Is this not what you expected?”

“You know what? It’s not what I expected at all,” the veteran says.

VA officials said they hope the video will remind department employees to provide good customer service to veterans and that it will remind them of what the system — often confusing, time-consuming and daunting — looks like to veterans just getting home.

The VA has hired some of its toughest critics to help woo Iraq and Afghanistan-era veterans as just a quarter of all living U.S. military veterans regularly access the department’s services. Most notably, it hired Army of Dude blogger Alex Horton as its official blogger to continue calling out the department for its shortfalls. Though he has ruffled feathers, Horton’s new VAntage Point blog is widely read among veterans and VA staffers.

Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

Further reading:

At VA, a blogger criticizes from the inside

For more, visit PostPolitics and The Fed Page.

Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.

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