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Phoenix VA Health Care System

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Phoenix VA's VCS Receives Top Award, Again

Phoenix VA leadership and Veteran Canteen Service employees pose for a photo to celebrate the VA naming the VCS number one in the nation.

Phoenix VA leadership and Veteran Canteen Service employees pose for a photo to celebrate the VA naming the VCS number one in the nation for the second consecutive year.

By Macario Mora
Friday, September 22, 2017

The Department of Veterans Affairs named the Phoenix VA’s Veteran Canteen Service the top canteen for the second consecutive year.

The Phoenix VA VCS hosted a Canteen of the Year Ceremony, Sept. 13, in the Carl T. Hayden Medical Center cafeteria to honor employees and celebrate the service’s second consecutive award. Fabian Santos, Phoenix VCS chief, said the rankings are based on a multitude of factors to include financials and observations from the regional and central VA offices.

 “We have great financial oversight, which helps keep us on top,” Santos said. “The VA also ensures we’re running the proper programs, our employees are wearing the uniform appropriately, and we’re running the proper promotional material.”

 Santos said the VCS regional manager and an employee from the VA central office survey the Phoenix VCS activity at various times throughout the year to ensure customers are being treated right and the program is following proper protocol. However, Santos said he attributes the VCS’s success to a sustained commitment by employees throughout the service to doing what’s right.

“I think every year we refine what we’re doing and get a little better,” Santos said. “I know I try and look back every year to see what we did right and wrong for improvement. We also seek comments from Veterans and often implement their suggestions.”

 Santos said the VCS receives a lot of feedback from customers. For example, VCS activities here recently extended their operating hours based on customer feedback to better accommodate overnight employees and Veterans who stay in the hospital after hours. The VCS is a microcosm of the continued importance the PVAHCS places on Veteran care.

“We emphasize employee training,” Santos said. “Employees often use the VCS as a stepping stone to further their career in the VA system. You can find former VCS employees working throughout the hospital.”

Santos said he anticipates the Phoenix VCS will have continued success. He said it’s the little things he sees employees do each day during their interactions with customers that sets a such a high standard. He said that singling out a specific incident of when an employee went above and beyond their job description to help a customer is difficult to do because it happens so often.

“We’re very proud of our canteen service,” said Rima Nelson, PVAHCS director. “It’s a great accomplishment to be recognized like this once, but to receive this recognition two years in a row is beyond outstanding! I couldn’t be more proud of the VCS employees here for the first-rate service they provide to our Veterans and employees.”

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