Expanding use of GI Bill® benefits
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
From meaningful employment to financial stability and overall wellness, GI Bill® education benefits provide veterans, service members, and their families pathways to higher education and civilian success. Access to these benefits, and their use, depends on top-notch customer service and easy-to-use applications and systems that leave veterans feeling informed, confident, and ready for their next step. Enter Digital GI Bill (DGIB).
In March 2021, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Education Service (EDU) and Office of Information and Technology (OIT) launched the DGIB initiative. DGIB is a major modernization effort to transform GI Bill operations internally and for veterans. DGIB updates current VA systems to improve education benefits and customer service delivery for the nearly one million GI Bill students served each year, and the thousands more who support them.
Long considered a launch pad to the middle class, the GI Bill expands, enhances, and enriches veterans’ lives with new opportunities as they pursue higher education. Improving their experiences with their benefits, and with VA, will enable more veterans to use these services and will lead to greater economic stability for military families and the nation.
To expand our capabilities with VA, DCG joined forces with trusted partner Accenture Federal Services to assist in creating change management strategies and communications campaigns with clear goals in mind. Over the next 10 years, we will:
• Efficiently and effectively prepare stakeholders for upcoming enhancements;
• Provide strategic and creative support as VA implements these IT solutions; and
• Put benefits in the hands of veterans faster and easier than ever before.
- Strategic communications
- Creative development
- Change management
- Web development
- Social media
In an increasingly digital world, VA stakeholders have high expectations; their online experiences need to be fast, accurate, safe, and seamless. Veterans, especially, need systems they can trust that meet their needs.
Each IT enhancement is on its own timeline and impacts different audiences, but a common desire for all stakeholders and their varying needs was an improved user experience with new features. Stakeholders need to be informed, prepared, and ready for new enhancements and expect a seamless experience with no interruptions to delivery or use of their GI Bill benefits.
DCG and Accenture Federal Services formed a strategic DGIB communications team that prepared target audiences for the changes to come, eased their transition to using these new features, and created multi-pronged, data-driven communications pre- and post-launches for ongoing support for these IT releases. Our team utilized change management tactics to effectively inform stakeholders of upcoming enhancements, successfully transition stakeholders to new systems, and provide ongoing communications support to promote new enhancements and increase adoption.
Key accomplishments with Accenture include:
- Supported five DGIB implementations, including legislatively mandated releases, the automation of Veterans’ education benefits claims processing and application experiences, and new system rollouts.
- Promoted the new SMS method for Veterans who are their education enrollment each month. This resulted in a 97% opt-in rate for text messaging and email verification, as well as over 8% of veteran students landing in good standing and avoiding having their payments withheld.
- Executed one of the largest multichannel workshop events in EDU and Accenture Federal Service’s history. An audience including 156 in-person attendees from over 30 states, and over 9,000 virtual participants from all 50 states and several international countries, received interactive training on a new VA system. This built confidence among end users, increased readiness, and prepared our audience for a seamless transition.
- Amplified the EDU milestone of one million enrollments submitted in a new system that supports veterans enrolling and using their benefits at institutions nationwide.
- Rebranded VA EDU to create a unified look and voice, to refresh stakeholders’ perception of VA and promote education benefits.
- Attained 204,543 DGIB video views across platforms, including three live-streamed events and EDU’s first YouTube Short.
- 2023: MarCom Awards platinum winner for YouTube Video
- 2023: MarCom Awards platinum winner for Strategic Communications/Special Event
- 2023: MarCom Awards gold winner for Strategic Communications/Product Launch
- 2023: MarCom Awards gold winner for Marketing/Email Campaign
- 2023: MarCom Awards honorable mention for Microsite Event
- 2022: YouTube Video winner for Ragan’s 2022 Video, Visual, and Virtual Awards
- 2022: PR Daily Award finalist for Public Affairs Campaign
- 2022: PR Daily Award finalist for Community Engagement Campaign