Senator Carper Hosts VA Secretary Wilkie in Delaware for Discussion on Better Serving First State Veterans

Carper, Wilkie met with Delaware veterans at annual summit and toured first-of-its-kind partnership between Wilmington VA and the University of Delaware




NEWARK, Del. – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), a 23-year veteran of the Navy, hosted U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie at the Wilmington VA Medical Center to meet with Medical Center employees, veterans and leaders of Delaware’s Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs). This year, in addition to the annual discussion with veterans and veterans advocates, Senator Carper and Secretary Wilkie also visited the University of Delaware’s Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) campus to learn more about the new VA Patient Experience Academy. Senator Carper and Secretary Wilkie were also joined by representatives from U.S. Senator Chris Coons’ and Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester’s offices.

The VA Patient Experience Academy represents a first-of-its-kind partnership between the Wilmington VA Medical Center and the University of Delaware to advance rehabilitation research and care for the tens of thousands of veterans living in the region, while also empowering VA employees. Designed for VA managers and associates from the Wilmington VAMC and VA primary care locations in Delaware and New Jersey, the Patient Experience Academy aims to equip those who are providing care for our veterans with hospitality training in order to improve the entire care experience. The campus’ state-of-the-art facilities, such as immersion rooms that can provide backdrops depicting the lobby of a medical center, allow for realistic training scenarios. 

“There are few duties more sacred to me than caring for those who have served our country. I’m pleased that Secretary Wilkie could join us for the day in Delaware to hear directly from the veterans in our region and see first-hand what the First State is doing to improve care for those who have borne the battle,” said Senator Carper. “For years, I have hosted an annual summit with veterans and veterans advocates to hear from the what we can be doing to improve their experiences and ensure they are receiving the best care possible . The innovative partnership between the University of Delaware and Wilmington VA Medical Center stands as a great example of new, smart ways that we can all be working together to better serve this community, while, at the same time, empowering the employees who care for our veterans. I’m glad that I could bring Secretary Wilkie to see the VA Patient Experience Academy up close. It is my hope that the VA will be able to replicate this program across the country in order to enhance the experience that our veterans have when seeking the care they need.”

“Our first priority at VA is customer service.  For our local facilities, the first step in that process is to make sure that Veterans who come to us are welcomed when they come through the door. If they don’t feel welcomed, all of the metrics and all of the studies show us that we lose them,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert L. Wilkie.  “Programs like the Patient Experience Academy, and partnerships like it, empower our staff with skills they can use to go the extra step to help Veterans. Delaware VA Medical Center’s patient satisfaction rate is above the national average at nearly 90% and innovative programs like this are a big reason why.”

“It was an honor to have Secretary Wilkie and Senator Carper here today to meet with Veterans and VA staff members. Today’s visit to the STAR Campus was a perfect opportunity to highlight Wilmington VA’s partnership with University of Delaware and showcase our new VA Patient Experience Academy,” said Director Vince Kane. “The UD course, which has a mission to make hospitals truly hospitable, has already benefited graduating VA staff and the Veterans they proudly serve. I look forward to the program’s future and seeing its impact on our overall Veterans experience.”