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Awareness, Empathy, and a Life Calling to Serve

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  • Published on: September 30, 2021

Laura Prietula, Executive Director of the Health Portfolio

Laura Prietula’s IT career spans 29 years across both public and private sectors. Once a Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) Office of Information and Technology (OIT) contractor, Ms. Prietula became an OIT government employee in 2005. She later transferred to the Veteran Health Administration (VHA) to deepen her knowledge of VA’s business side and served as Director of Systems Management for the Chief Business Office. Before returning to OIT in early 2021, she served as Acting Executive Director of Multi-Channel Technologies in the Veterans Experience Office.

Currently, as Executive Director of OIT’s Health Portfolio, Ms. Prietula is responsible for VHA’s Electronic Health Record legacy applications, including Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture and financial applications. Additionally, Ms. Prietula oversees emerging Community Care health care products and VA’s Supply Chain modernization efforts.

Service runs in Ms. Prietula’s family; her father-in-law and mother-in-law served in World War II, and her brother-in-law is a Vietnam Veteran. “I am not a Veteran, but anyone can attest that I carry our Veterans in my heart. I so much appreciate the sacrifices they have made.”

I am not a Veteran, but anyone can attest that I carry our Veterans in my heart. I so much appreciate the sacrifices they have made.

Why do you believe Hispanic Heritage Month is important to recognize?

I recently held a session at a military facility. There were participants from the Department of Defense and from various offices in VA. After our two-day session, one of the participants approached me and said, “Ma’am, I just wanted to thank you.” I thought he was thanking me for having the much-needed meeting. But he continued with, “It is so great to see that someone who looks like me and has roots like mine can hold such a high-level appointment. I can see now that people like me can have their aspirational dreams come true.” That two-minute conversation awakened my responsibility of being a voice for Hispanics who may feel marginalized.

What are some of the important issues that disproportionately affect Hispanic and Latinx Veterans today? How can VA bring awareness or address these issues?

Important issues that disproportionately affect Hispanic and Latinx Veterans include the challenge of language barriers and access to benefits and services. As an ally, I have empathy for Veterans to which English is their second language. I believe we should find alternate ways to communicate such as translation applications or services to ensure Hispanic and Latinx Veterans receive the services and benefits they deserve.

In terms of access to health care and benefits, it is not enough to be an inclusive, diverse, or equitable organization. We need to make sure the services and benefits we provide are accessible to all Veterans. We must continuously find innovative methods to meet Hispanic and Latinx Veterans where they are, understand their specific needs, and educate ourselves to communicate in ways that are mindful and considerate of cultural differences.

Regarding VA’s Mission to care for those, “…who shall have borne the battle…” how does this resonate with you and inform your work in OIT?

I am and have always been a servant leader. If I were not in the technology industry, I would probably be in social work or a missionary helping communities in need. Serving others completes me as an individual. When I first joined VA in 2003, I knew almost nothing about Veterans and their lives. Although my in-laws were both WWII Veterans, they seldom liked to talk about their time in the military. When I joined VA, I was fortunate to be welcomed by a devoted group of VA civil servant employees, many of whom were Veterans, advocating for the rights of other Veterans and their families. Their passion became my passion— “their” Veterans became “my” Veterans. I feel I am making this world a better place by serving Veterans, and it brings me great joy.

Our commitment to digital and IT transformation is shaped by daily dedication to customer service and the close collaboration of our workforce, managers, and leaders. Ready to join us in improving Veterans’ care? Check out all current information and technology career opportunities on DigitalVA. You can also contact VA’s Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer at 512-326-6600, Monday thru Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST or by submitting a resume to VACareers@va.gov.

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Page last updated on September 30, 2021

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