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Veterans Integrated Services Networks (VISN), Markets, Submarkets, Sectors and Counties by Geographic Location

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides healthcare services to its veterans across the USA including territories and possessions. Healthcare services are delivered through 18 geographically divided administrative areas called Veterans Integrated Services Networks (VISN). Each VISN is divided into healthcare areas called Markets and Submarkets. Each Submarket is divided into Sectors and each Sector comprises one or more counties. In 1995 a process was created to coordinate and review the realignment of the Heath Care Networks. The Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services (CARES) process established VISN 'subsets' called Markets, Submarkets and Sectors which, being smaller than VISNs, allowed for more precise analyses for greater access measurement to health care.

The County layer is the base geographic unit of the VISN-Market-Submarket-Sector-County hierarchy. The key attribute in this data set is the FIPS which is defined as a string of 5 characters with unique alphanumeric combinations for each site. The first 2 are the State FIPS code and the next 3 designate the County FIPS code. Example: '01031' is the FIPS for Coffee County, Alabama.

A Sector is a cluster of geographically adjacent counties within a VA Submarket. The process of aggregating counties into sectors uses a combination of automated algorithms and manual inspection of maps. The key attribute in this data set is the SECTOR which is defined as a string of eight characters broken down into four parts in the order of VISN (2-char), Market (1-char), Submarket (1-char), and Sector(1-char) connected by a hyphen. For example, Sector 12-a-3-A indicates VISN 12, Market a, Submarket 3 and Sector A.

Sub-markets reflect a clustering of the enrollee population within a market and are an aggregation of Sectors. The key attribute in this data set is the SUBMARKET which is defined as a string of six characters broken down in three parts in the order of VISN (2-char), Market (1-char), and Submarket (1-char) connected by a hyphen. For example, Submarket 12-a-3 indicates VISN 12, Market a, and Submarket 3.

CARES defines Markets as "an aggregated geographic area having a sufficient population and geographic size to both benefit from the coordination and planning of health care services and to support a full healthcare delivery system (i.e. primary care, mental health care, inpatient care, tertiary care, and long term care)". Each Market is built from Submarkets. The key attribute in this data set is the MARKET which is defined as a string of four characters broken down in two parts in the order of HCN (2-char) and Market (1-char) connected by a hyphen. For example, Market 12-a indicates VISN 12 and Market a.

The key attribute in the VISN data set is defined as a string of two characters from 01-23, excluding 3, 11, 13, 14 and 18; a VISN also has an officially recognized VA title. For example, VISN 06 is the Mid-Atlantic Health Care Network. VISNs can span across neighboring countries to include areas that are not contiguous. For example, VISN 08 includes Florida and Puerto Rico in addition to most of Florida and southern Georgia, and VISN 20 includes Alaska and parts of the northwest conterminous United States. Each VISN is built from Markets, Submarkets, Sectors and Counties derived from Census (2010) County data.

Because VISNs are composed of VHA markets, VISN boundaries align with the outer edges of their constituent markets’ boundaries. Markets cross state borders wherever it is necessary to keep outpatient clinics (e.g. Community-Based Outpatient Clinics(CBOCs)) and their catchment areas in the same market as their parent medical centers. Thus, VISN boundaries also cross state borders. In 2016 senior leadership considered the challenge of conforming VISN boundaries to MyVA Districts, which coincide with state boundaries. It was agreed that VHA would not separate outpatient clinics from their parent medical centers due to added complexity. Many outpatient providers hold clinics at their mother facilities and clinics are on the same health record as their parent facilities. VISN and market maps created by VHA Policy and Planning conform to these principals and are the official maps for VHA VISNs and markets.

While the Planning Systems Support Group (PSSG) develops the feature classes depicting the various VHA geographies, the PSSG does not have the authority to modify or reorganize the boundaries. The boundaries are developed at higher levels of the VHA and passed to the PSSG to be translated into spatial features.

Data and Resources

Release Date
Spatial / Geographical Coverage Location
US, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Philippines, Guam
English (United States)
Data Dictionary
Contact Name
VHA Open Data
Contact Email
Public Access Level
Bureau Code
029:15 - Veterans Health Administration
Program Code
029:080 - Department of Veterans Affairs - Staffing and Administration
Data Quality