June 12, 2013 · 5:08 pm
VMI’s Operation Independence continues to gain momentum. Jeff Weston, VMI vice president of business development and a former US Army Captain has been establishing relationships and raising awareness with high ranking officials about the program. His effort recently resulted in a visit by retired Air Force Brigadier General Allison Hickey, the Under Secretary for Benefits at the Department of Veteran Affairs, who was in the Phoenix area during a visit to the VA regional office there.
Under Secretary Hickey oversees more than 20,000 employees in VA’s Veterans Benefits Administration, which is responsible for administering VA programs that provide financial and other forms of assistance to veterans, their dependents, and survivors. Major benefits include veterans’ compensation, veterans’ pension, survivors’ benefits, rehabilitation and employment assistance, education assistance, home loan guaranties, and life insurance coverage.
Under Secretary Hickey toured our Phoenix factory on June 4 and met with the management team. Veteran employees and customers joined Weston and the Under Secretary on a factory tour and then shared ideas in an open town hall format.
“Even though we have provided more benefits to Veterans over the last three years than at any other time in our history, we’re transforming our processes to better deliver the benefits they’ve earned and deserve,” said Under Secretary Hickey. “I always enjoy visiting with fellow veterans and particularly like seeing what other organizations are doing to improve the lives of our veterans.”
Access, in all forms, is a priority at the VA because of the enormous impact on the life of a veteran. Mobility is critical for access to medical care and employment opportunities.
“VMI continues to pioneer programs that improve the buying experience for customers and improve dealer profitability,” noted Weston. “Since my time in the military, I’m particularly interested in programs that benefit fellow veterans. During the meeting with Under Secretary Hickey, VMI pledged to support the goals of VA’s transformation by improving awareness of mobility benefits for veterans through Operation Independence.”
Weston is a graduate of West Point, as well as the Army’s Airborne, Air Assault and Helicopter Flight schools. He was one of the few dual rated pilots (helicopter and airplanes) in the Army. After leaving the military, he helped companies nationwide develop and grow their sales strategies and teams.
“Raising veteran awareness of their benefits is a top objective of Operation Independence;” commented Weston. “By educating veterans and then working closely with VA, we can help expedite the delivery of the vans. VMI’s approach will result in a better life with greater job opportunities for our veterans, as well as better business processes for our dealers.”