The Veterans Affairs Department's new MyVA Advisory Committee, designed to help officials provide better customer service for patients and beneficiaries, includes a host of business and health experts but only a few veterans advocates.

The group, announced Thursday as part of President Obama's visit to the Phoenix VA medical center, will meet several times a year, with the goal of providing short-term and long-range priorities to improve VA operations and services. Its first meeting will be next month.

In a statement, VA Secretary Bob McDonald called the committee "incredibly important" to improving his department's outreach to veterans.

"Each of them understands that VA must improve customer service and focus the department on the needs of our veterans," McDonald said.

Here's a look at the committee members:

  • Josue "Joe" Robles Jr. — A retired Army major general, Robles served as CEO of USAA from 2007 until last month. He'll serve as committee chairman.
  • Michael Haynie — Haynie is an Air Force veteran who serves as vice chancellor at Syracuse University and executive director of the university's Institute for Veterans and Military Families. He'll serve as vice chairman of the committee.
  • Herman Bulls — The international director at the real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle is an Army veteran and serves as a director of the West Point Association of Graduates.
  • Teresa Carlson — In addition to her current work as a vice president at Amazon, Carlson has 15 years of experience in the health care field.
  • Dr. Richard Carmona — The former U.S. surgeon general is a disabled Army veteran who served in special operations forces in Vietnam. He currently works as a professor at the University of Arizona.
  • Dr. Delos "Toby" Cosgrove — Cosgrove, who was rumored to be on the White House's short list to become VA secretary last year, is an Air Force veteran and CEO of the Cleveland Clinic.
  • Dr. Laura Herrera — Maryland's deputy secretary for public health served as a medical officer in the Army Reserve and acting deputy chief officer of patient care services in the Veterans Health Administration.
  • Chris Howard — Howard, a retired Air Force colonel, is president of Hampden-Sydney College and serves on the American Council on Education's board of directors.
  • Nancy Killefer — The former Treasury official works as senior director of the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. and as vice chair of the Defense Business Board.
  • Fred Lee — Lee is the author of "If Disney Ran Your Hospital, 9½ Things You Would Do Differently" and a consultant on family care issues within the health care industry.
  • Dr. Eleanor "Connie" Mariano — Mariano, a retired Navy rear admiral, is founder of the Center for Executive Medicine and was the first military woman to become a White House physician to the president.
  • Jean Reaves — Reaves, a Vietnam veteran whose husband and children also served in the military, is president of North Carolina's AMVETS Service Foundation and previously worked as a veteran liaison for former Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C.
  • Maria "Lourdes" Tiglao — Tigalo founded the first critical care medical attendant team in the Pacific during her time in the Air Force, and now serves as a regional communications manager for the disaster response group Team Rubicon.
  • Robert Wallace — Wallace, a Vietnam veteran, works as executive director of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and has worked in the banking industry and various positions in New Jersey state government.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

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