Department of Veterans Affairs news

The Department of Veterans Affairs has opened a national IT training center in Falling Waters, W.Va. The National IT Training Academy, which opened Feb. 12, is the hub for VA's four existing regional IT training centers and three more planned to open this year. With remote virtualization capabilities, the national facility will train the trainers at the regional sites, including IT professionals working across all VA activities. The regional centers will be able to deliver training to each other simultaneously through a VA distance learning network and to train VA staff nationwide whose work involves automated data systems, including through teleconferencing with the National Academy.

Equipped with VA's most advanced technology, the academy will educate with video conferencing and virtual desktop technology, thereby permitting more frequent training at reduced cost and the ability to reach more than 200 students at one time across the country. The new technology will also offer various presentation formats. In addition to interactive video, these include Web-based courses, on-demand recordings and live meetings. Desktop virtualization will permit multiple operating systems and software applications to run on a single computer.

The IT regional training centers are classrooms in VA facilities in Arlington, Texas; Denver; Orlando, Fla.; and Washington, D.C. Future sites are in Salt Lake City and Vancouver, Wash.

The U.S. Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General has launched a criminal investigation into a security breach of veterans' medical information at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The inspector general is investigating a report that a physician assistant stored unauthorized clinical information on her personal laptop regarding veterans who were seen at one of the VA specialty clinics, according to the document.

According to an internal document obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, there are reportedly two sets of patient information involved -one that includes more than 18 years of data, and another that includes up to three years of data.

The agency has yet to determine how many veterans are affected or the degree to which the data contained personal and medical information.In late December, the physician assistant revealed to a VA nurse scientist that she had been recording clinical data from patient encounters on her personal laptop, the document said. The worker asked the nurse if she could use the data for "research purposes" not related to the VA. The nurse replied that such work was not permitted and asked the worker to destroy the data."After multiple follow-up conversations and receiving no confirmation from the (physician's assistant) that she had destroyed the data, the nurse scientist notified the ... compliance officer of the issue on 2/8/10," the document said.The physician assistant, hired in October of 2009, resigned effective Feb. 28.The inspector general's office has reviewed the personal laptop and found multiple documents on the device "that appeared to have come from an unapproved research project."

VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki has appointed six new members to the Advisory Committee on Women Veterans, an expert panel that advises VA on a wide array of issues affecting women veterans. Established in 1983, the advisory committee makes recommendations to the secretary for administrative and legislative changes. The committee members are appointed to one-, two-, or three-year terms.

Women veterans are one of the fastest growing segments of the veterans population. There are 23 million veterans; approximately 1.8 million are women veterans. They comprise nearly 8 percent of the total veteran population and nearly 5 percent of all veterans who use VA health-care services. VA estimates that by 2020, women veterans will comprise 10 percent of the veteran population.

 VA has women veterans program managers at VA medical centers and women veterans coordinators at VA regional offices to assist women veterans with health and benefits issues.

To view a list of new members, go to