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Military Connection: Article Sparks Intrigue: By Debbie Gregory

ArticleWith the confirmation of Robert McDonald as the new permanent secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, many in the military and Veteran communities are eager to see what his term will bring, and how he will affect change in the VA system. The staff at Military Connection would like to know what members of the Veteran community think about McDonald’s confirmation, and how he should approach his task of reforming the VA. Using the following editorial article from The Arizona Republic, as a guide, we ask that you formulate your own ideas on how you think Sec. McDonald should approach refurbishing the VA.

 VA scandal: How to fix a broken system
By The Arizona Republic editorial board

 As Seen in The Arizona Republic

Mr. Robert McDonald:

We admire your courage. In accepting this nomination, you are about to confront one of the most daunting challenges in all of federal governance: reforming the VA hospital system.

You face three great challenges.

The first is size. With 6.5 million patients, 300,000 employees and more than 150 hospitals and 850 clinics, the system is too large to adequately perform its core mission of providing lifesaving and recuperative care to veterans of war.

You must make the VA health-care system smaller. This will be your greatest challenge.

By returning to the VA”s roots and treating only war and service-related injuries, you will enhance care for all veterans. Congress is working to find private-sector alternatives. Help them find answers for those whose needs are unrelated to their service. It does no favors to vets to make this organization bigger.

The second challenge is the corrosive culture you inherit.

Imagine how daunting your job leading Procter and Gamble would have been if you could not trust your subordinates. Imagine what kind of company P and G would be if your down-line directors believed they could mislead you and get away with it. Your chances of accomplishing real reform would be next to nil.

The VA has many great, duty-minded, veteran-centric employees. It also has too many employees, in too many important positions, who have demonstrated they will lie. They must go.

The third of your challenges is time. Bureaucracies as large and dysfunctional as the VA will resist change by waiting you out. You have no more than 31 months – realistically, less – to enact reforms before President Barack Obama leaves office and the next wave of political appointees moves in. You must act quickly.

There are steps you can take that will improve your chances of ensuring quality health care for vets. None will be easy. Some are dramatic.

Click here to read the full editorial.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Article Sparks Intrigue:   By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Next VA Sec Addresses Congress: By Debbie Gregory

mcdonald

Robert McDonald, President Obama’s nominee to be the permanent secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) addressed Congress on July 22, 2014. During his meeting with the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, the future head of the VA vowed to transform the department, agreeing that systematic failures in transparency, accountability, integrity, and patient access to healthcare must be addressed.

“The seriousness of the moment demands urgent action,” McDonald told the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. “There is a lot of work to do to transform the department and it will not be easy, but it is essential and can be achieved.”

McDonald is perfectly positioned to address these issues.  The former CEO of Procter &amp,amp,amp,amp, Gambleis an Army Veteran, and his father served in the Army Air Corps.  McDonald’s father-in-law was prisoner of war during WWII. McDonald also shared that he has a relative who was exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam, and receives care from the VA, and his nephew is in the Air Force, currently deployed in the Middle East. Due to his own Veteran status and the care that his family members receive from the VA, McDonald would be vested in the quality and timeliness of the department he would be entrusted with overseeing.

If confirmed, McDonald plans to implement a Veteran-first vision for the department. His plan includes frequent video conferences with VA employees, and extensive travel to field offices around the country.

Sources say that McDonald’s confirmation is all but assured, as lawmakers from both parties have voiced their approval for McDonald’s nomination.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard &amp,amp,amp, Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Next VA Sec Addresses Congress: By Debbie Gregory

UND Center for Rural Health to Support Federal VAs Office of Rural Health

The Center for Rural Health at the University of North Dakota (UND) School of Medicine and Health Sciences has been selected to provide support to the federal Office of Rural Health (ORH) within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  The 5-year, multimillion dollar partnership will provide program and regulatory support for rural VA endeavors.

The newly created ORH is charged with establishing processes that will enhance the delivery of care to rural veterans, supporting studies that improve health care, testing innovative care delivery models through new pilot programs, and using newly generated information to translate these results into policies to be shared across the continuum of care for rural veterans.

“What we discover through the Center’s projects will influence how veteran health care is delivered across rural America,” said Dr. Alana Knudson, Associate Director for Research at the UND Center for Rural Health and the Fargo VA Medical Center.

The Center for Rural Health will provide support in such areas as communications, dissemination of new research, and development of an ORH Web site. The Center for Rural Health’s partners in this effort include Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.; the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago; Atlas Research LLC; and the National Rural Health Association. 

“UND’s Center for Rural Health views rural veterans’ health care needs as a priority concern.  We’re committed to doing everything we can to help ensure the success and value of the federal Office of Rural Health to rural veterans,” said Dr. Mary Wakefield, director of the Center for Rural Health.

“Through collaborative projects, the Center for Rural Health can continue to fulfill its mission of strengthening the health of people in rural communities,” says Dr. Knudson.  “The ORH will help ensure that quality care is provided for rural veterans.”

 

 

   www.ruralhealth.und.edu

VA Adding Clinics

My father receives treatment at the VA facility closest to his home. Unfortunately the closest VA facility is about 2 hours away. My father has bladder cancer and the treatment for his cancer has caused him to be painfully incontinent. A two hour car ride to the doctor’s office is torture. But so is not being able to eat and afford health care at the same time so he endures the ride.

Thankfully, what MilitaryConnection reported on back in June – that the VA was expanding the number of clinics in certain locations – is now becoming a reality in 21 different states.

According to the VA, the planned sites for the new outpatient clinics are:

  • Alabama (2) — Marshall County, Wiregrass
  • Alaska — Matanuska-Susitna Borough area
  • Arkansas (2) — Ozark, White County
  • California — East Bay-Alameda County area
  • Florida — Summerfield
  • Georgia (4) — Baldwin County, Coweta County, Glynn County, Liberty County
  • Indiana (2) — Miami County, Morgan County
  • Iowa — Wapello County
  • Louisiana (5) — Lake Charles, Leesville, Natchitoches, St. Mary Parish, Washington Parish
  • Maine — Lewiston-Auburn area
  • Minnesota (2) — Douglas County, Northwest Metro
  • Missouri — Franklin County
  • New Mexico — Rio Rancho
  • North Carolina (2) — Robeson County, Rutherford County
  • North Dakota — Grand Forks County
  • Ohio — Gallia County
  • Oklahoma (4) — Altus, Craig County, Enid, Jay
  • Tennessee (3) — Giles County, Maury County, McMinn County
  • Texas (5) — Katy, Lake Jackson, Richmond, Tomball, El Paso County
  • Virginia (3) — Augusta County, Emporia, Wytheville
  • West Virginia — Greenbrier County

The expansion is scheduled to take place over the next 15 months with the goal being to increase to 98 percent the number of veterans seen within 30 days in all types of VA primary care facilities throughout the country.

Will the expansion help you or someone you know? Are you being passed over by the expansion? Do you think that the addition of these new clinics will truly alleviate the backlog of patients?