The VA Digital Media Engagement Team creates content for several of the VA’s Social Media accounts.
Interns in various departments accomplished numerous important milestones when in the program. Here are some accomplishments in the words of several of these interns:
2019 – 2020
“The 2019-2020 Graphic Design team has completed an average of 95 graphics per month (over 900 in total) across several different areas of focus – Veteran of the Day, A Veteran’s Story, Veteran Resources, Operation Song, and other miscellaneous projects. We began working on the Veteran Resources project in November, and the department has created over 145 graphics thus far showcasing different resources/programs for Veterans and their families. Every graphic is shared throughout the VA’s social media platforms, and our designers have been recognized and thanked by Veterans and their families for their dedication and hard work.” –Sarah Kowalewski, Graphic Design Department Head and Veteran Resources Division Officer.
“During the 2019-2020 season, Borne the Battle has grown exponentially, and it is due in large part to the DME Internship. While the podcast integrated itself into a weekly VA newsletter with an audience of over 11 million Veterans, podcast interns recruited and coordinated guest appearances, transcribed episodes for audience members with disabilities, produced social media videos and wrote blogs, social media and newsletter posts. All of this helped increase exposure. The results were over 40 produced episodes during the school year that resulted in almost 200,000 podcast downloads, over 300,000 blog views, peaking at #1 in the government category in Apple Podcasts, and #23 overall for all podcasts in the US.” –Mary Adams, Podcast Production Department Head
“This year [(2019-2020)], the Web Team developed a variety of new internal-facing and external-facing tools to enhance the experience of interns and external users of the dmeinterns.org website. Web interns developed an 11-page onboarding series to acclimate the 250+ interns involved in the DME Team Internship Program this year (representing an over 150% increase in interns relative to the past year), enhancing internal communication for all. Web interns also introduced a help desk system for site users, support ticket system for website problems, website support agent trainings for HR interns, 10+ Intranet discussion groups for internal communication, and a mechanism to create professional profiles for all 250+ interns. Web interns also created 10+ professional emails linked with the dmeinterns.org site to support recruitment and internal communication, installed 1 new site theme, implemented 1 new server upgrade, and implemented a Cloudflare CDN to increase the efficiency and user experience of the site. Web interns performed meaningful work this year that laid the foundation for recruitment efforts and internal collaborations within the DME Team Program and subsequently excellent work of value for Veterans and their families.” –Narayan Kulkarni, Executive Leadership Team Intern (Web Focus).
“During the 2019-2020 school year, the Writing Department’s 35 interns completed 613 writing projects in collaboration with editing and fact-checking interns. These projects included Veteran of the Day, Veterans in the News, Veteran Resources, A Veteran’s Story, and Operation Song posts. Many featured Veterans and their families have expressed gratitude for our writing interns’ role in honoring Veterans.” –Jewel Luckow, Writing Co-Department Head.
2018 – 2019
“The accessibility team has worked on over 80 documents for different departments within the Dept of Veterans Affairs to remediate them and make them compliant with Section 508 standards. Some of the biggest accomplishments have been: remediating 6 Collective Bargaining Agreement documents over winter break for the Office of Labor Management Relations of the Dept of Veterans Affairs, and more recently 13 documents for the VA Caregiver Support team.” –Danielle Bates, Accessibility Department Head.
“This year [(2018-2019)] , the major accomplishment for the A Veteran’s Story project was piloting and setting direction for the project. This was a project created mid-year to allow interns to expand their work and take on projects that allowed them to do more in-depth storytelling. We currently have a team of about 30 interns from each role working on this project. As of March, about 12 stories celebrating Veterans who broke social barriers, had their stories featured in films, or did outstanding deeds during or after their service have been published.” – Leah Comins, Department Head and Intern Editor-In-Chief of A Veteran’s Story Project.
“[The 2018-2019 Fact Checking Team] achieved an important goal by establishing the first official fact-checking team. While it may not sound like a big deal, this was a massive milestone for our program. Fact checking is an essential part of public affairs, and the creation of this team is a significant factor in this year’s success. Being a new team, we faced several obstacles at the start of the year. There was little structure or training material for new interns. We also had to make do with a small number of interns. Most of this team were volunteers from other groups. Despite all the challenges, our small team made this year a success. We were able to improve our training resources and workflow productivity. So far, our team helped publish over 350 stories and corrected over 110 mistakes – a vast improvement from last year.” –Seng Hla, Fact Checking Department Head.
“The graphic design team has created an average of 96 graphics a month that have been posted across the VA’s social media platforms. These graphics include features for Veterans of the Day, special projects like Operation Song and A Veteran’s Story, and running features on Instagram. Our team has created new templates and updated old ones in order to keep the visual appeal of our content fresh and engaging. The graphics produced by members of our team have been recognized by Veterans and acknowledged for their creativity and skill.” – Katherine Wiedeman, Graphic Design Department Head
“With under six months since conception, Operation Song has been able to interview half a dozen Operation Song artists and publish their stories on the VAntage Point website for thousands to see. Many more interviews and posts are in the works as this is a project in its beginnings.” –Ifeoma Ikedionwu, Operation Song Division Officer and Turnover Department Head.
“[The Podcast team has] also helped compile lists of VSO’s, the podcast guest demographics, and veteran-owned businesses near a given area which were to help find potential podcast guests. Interns on the podcast team have [taken] the opportunity to host their own podcast episode.” – Emily Yedinak, Podcast Department Head.
“The social content team has continued its mission of curating content from news outlet as well as various VA medical centers across the country. The team has significantly increased output of tweets curation by 200% and Instagram posts by 500%. As the team is in charge of moderation of comments across the social media platforms, we have referred more than five Veterans to the Veterans Crisis Line from concerning comments on Facebook and Instagram. Furthermore, in 2018-2019, the Instagram platform also exceeded 100k followers. In light of the popularity of the VA’s social media platforms, we have also created specialized material like the silhouette series and continued #ThisDayInHistory. These popular series continue to lead the agency’s social media platforms in a positive direction, and has brought endless great feedback from Veterans, family, and friends in the United States and abroad.” –Emily Ma, Head of Instagram and Social Media Departments
“The 2018-2019 [Writing] team is very talented and has many achievements for a relatively short amount of time. They have pulled together to write high-profile pieces of veterans, including President George H.W. Bush, Jackie Robinson, and John McCain. The team has written captivating content for A Veteran’s Story, including the story about two veterans who helped prevent a terrorist attack on a train in Spain. They have written pieces in collaboration with other veteran organizations, including Operation Song. The writers have also written about special events and memorials to honor veterans. Veteran of the Day articles up to March 2019 total 243 with total views at 74,600.” –Jessica Jeffrey and Elizabeth Pianucci, Co-Department Heads for Writing and Operation Song.