Tag Archives: veterans

VA Adding 1,900 New Mental Health Workers – Is This Enough?

The Department of Veterans Affairs has recently announced they will be adding 1,900 new Mental Health personnel. Of the 1,900, 1,600 will be doctors, nurses, and PAs. The additional 300 slots will be for administrative support. Which VISN gets what has not been announced, but the announcement indicated these workers will be disbursed throughout the entire Veterans healthcare system. I salute Congress, and President Barack Obama for seeing the urgent need for these workers, and allocating resources to meet the need.

It appears the VA is trying to get ahead of the wave of new Veterans returning from Iraq, and Afghanistan. Many of these men, and women have been sent on multiple tours, and have seen things they will never talk about. Studies show the decade after a war ends is the costliest part of waging war. The physical, and mental wounds these men, and women have will take time, and money to begin the healing process.

It appears the lessons the VA learned from Vietnam were not forgotten; however, this increase may be insufficient, or the needs may be greater elsewhere, during any given time, in the decade beyond these wars. Currently the Department of Veterans Affairs is struggling to meet the Primary Healthcare needs of millions of Veterans. In my humble opinion, the VA should have concurrently allocated additional funding to recruit, and retain quality Primary Care Doctors. I know there is a shortage. I see it in my own VA, and read stories of other veterans struggling to access Primary Care.

Let us not forget how crucial the role of a Primary Care giver is to overall good healthcare. Ideally the Primary Care doctor is the main player in a person’s healthcare. If a person has a problem outside the scope of the Primary Care doctor, a referral, and consultation should follow; however, if the Primary Care doctors are overwhelmed with their current workload, we cannot expect them to be effective.

I am hoping to hear the VA will allocate funding for more Primary Care doctors. Not just a body, but good quality doctors. Incentives should be maximized. One incentive to lure quality physicians is to pay off their student loans, and I am sure those who know more than me can come up with even better ways to recruit, and retain top Quality Physicians. It is my hope that the 1,900 additional VA workers will be recruited based on quality, not quantity.

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Filed under Political, Veterans Issues, War

Department of Veterans Affairs – Blacklisting Patients

The Department of Veterans Affairs outpatient clinics, and hospitals have some problems, and some issues in dire need of solutions. One of the problems in need of a solution is the complaint process. Currently, if a Veteran has a problem, they are encouraged to go to the Patient Advocate; however, this system allows the VA to identify the complaining Veteran, and as I have found out, retaliate against that Veteran.

People in the civilian sector, and most of the Veterans, are unaware of the capability built into the electronic health record system enabling the Veterans Administration to flag a chart. I understand the need for employees to be aware a particular Veteran has the propensity to be violent, but conversely I fear this ability to “flag” a veterans’ medical record could be abused. I can see how such a system could lead to veterans being blacklisted by the very institution entrusted to care for them.

I would not feel this way if I did not have first hand experience with retaliation from a VA employee. A few years back I had a problem with an employee at the VA. I wrote a letter of complaint in the hope my problem would be corrected. Up until 2 years ago I assumed the problem had been handled. I gave no second thought to the matter until I was literally confronted by the same employee I complained against. This happened over the phone when I had a problem that came under this particular persons’ job duties. Moreover, since this incident, I have had several problems with that persons co-workers. To say the least, I am afraid to speak my mind anymore out of fear of reprisals. They have made it clear to me that everything I say, and do at the VA is being monitored. To me it is all a bit over the top considering I had a legitimate complaint; furthermore, I have NEVER threatened, or abused an employee at the Veterans Administration. The only “sin” I commited was to comlain about harsh treatment.

If I can have this many problems because I wrote ONE letter complaining about harsh treatment, imagine how bad it could be for others? By the way, if you are a Veteran, or the spouse/family member of a Veteran, take my advice and do not complain to the Patient Advocate. The Patient Advocates in the Veterans Administration clinics, and hospitals are a joke. They are there to protect the VA, not the Veterans. Do not fall into the same trap I have fallen into. Avoid the Patient Advocate like the plague. Take your complaints higher up the food chain. Contact your representatives in Washington, D.C., I know I will.

It does not take much of a mental leap to see how a system that allows employees to abuse patients, could use the option to electronically flag a patients chart, in a way that is not consistent with quality, compassionate care. Dare I use the word ‘blacklist”? I do not think it would be too far out of bounds to do so.

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Filed under Life as a Disabled Veteran, Personal, Political, Veterans Issues

The New & Improved Veterans Administration – I Don’t Think So

The Department of Veterans Affairs claims they have changed. I have been told to my face “The VA is changing”, “The VA is going to treat Veterans nicer, and not allow employees to abuse patients”. The motto in my neck of the woods is “We are committed to providing compassionate, quality care”.  The first time this was told to me, I chuckled. The first time I heard it on a recording while on phone hold, I laughed. I had a new doctor tell me the Veterans Administration has changed, and I said I do not believe it. That same doctor wound up quitting the entire VA after just 6 months of service.. I wonder why? No one will say why, but the last thing this doctor told me was about a veteran being done wrong in another clinic. I am guessing this doctor saw the crap hole it is, and being one of the better docs in this area, could not stand to work there.

Back on topic. Why do I think this way? I have been going to the VA for 27 years. I have been told the VA was changing in the past. It never materializes.

The VA Clinics, as part of all of this new change, are supposed to be more approachable. I took the challenge to the belly of the beast last week, and got the same bang for my buck as usual. Most of what I was said, in an attempt to take care of a problem, was misconstrued. If they will not take the time to understand the problem, they cannot effect real change.

Do not believe the propaganda from the VA. They are the same VA, with small-minded people trying lord power over us Veterans. I truly believe the VA is a dinosaur, and needs reform. All Veterans should be given the option of being seen at the VA, or going into the private sector using the same type insurance Congress has. Is this too much to ask for? I think I know something about the VA after 27 years. I should be given the right to go elsewhere with the same type insurance Congress uses.

Thanks For Stopping By! If you want to send me a private message about the VA, please do so, or comment on this post. I approve ALL comments. Please contact your Representatives in Congress and ask that us Veterans be given a choice to opt out of VA care, and go to the private sector.

mark – armyveteran

P.S. I had to re-edit this. If you want a copy of the original, please message me.

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Filed under Life as a Disabled Veteran, Personal, Political, Veterans Issues