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OK, let's just get this out of the way right now. You are either nuts or have an enormous amount of guts. You've been called by President Obama to become the next Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. As my least favorite corporate shill business reporter, Neil Cavuto sums up your background:

Seasoned CEO, West Point graduate, former U.S. Army captain. You name it, it seems 61-year-old Robert McDonald has done it. It doesn’t hurt that the company he ran, Procter & Gamble (PG), is all about consumer products and all about keeping consumers happy. What better assets to bring to the Department of Veterans Affairs, assuming McDonald becomes its next chief?
What Cavuto really likes about you is that you have donated lots of your personal money to Republicans - including John Boehner. What I can tolerate about you is that you are not a political hack. Unsolicited piece of advice #1: Don't ever become one.
Congressman Jeff Miller and I agree. Period. Full Stop.

Rep. Jeff Miller, Republican Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

“If confirmed by the Senate, Robert McDonald will inherit a Department of Veterans Affairs under a specter of corruption that may very well surpass anything in the history of American government. In order to pave the way for serious and substantive reforms that will help VA to effectively deliver the care and benefits our veterans have earned, he’ll need to root out the culture of dishonesty and fraud that has taken hold within the department and is contributing to all of its most pressing challenges. Quite simply, those who created the VA scandal will need to be purged from the system. Personnel changes, however, won’t be enough.

The only way McDonald can set the department up for long term success is to take the opposite approach of some other VA senior leaders.  That means focusing on solving problems instead of downplaying or hiding them, holding employees accountable for mismanagement and negligence that harms veterans, and understanding that taxpayer funded organizations such as VA have a responsibility to provide information to Congress and the public rather than stonewalling them.”
emphasis added

Miller is mostly correct. When he suggests taking the opposite approach of some other VA senior leaders he sort of goes off the rails a bit. Did you notice that he doesn't indicate whose head needs to chopped? Unsolicited piece of advice #2: I say be fair. Replace all of them.

If you are going to be successful at re-making this behemoth of an agency, you need time to get the job done. You are a business guy, so figure out how much time you need and get an employment contract. Unsolicited piece of advice #3: Don't buy into any prior restraints including that your job ends on Friday, 20 January 2017.   Get an employment contract from Congress that lasts at least 6 years. Your absence of a political background coupled with your financial support of Republicans makes that possible. The precedent: The Director of the FBI.

Unsolicited pieces of advice #4 & 5: Next, you need to be able to clean out the shark tank. The shark tank is located right in front of the red tape room. That means you need to be able to hire and fire everyone in the Secretary's office and everyone in the Deputy Secretary's offices including the Deputy Secretaries.

For a few decades now the sharks have played the status quo game by dredging up red tape - most of which is designed to protect their turf. When you fire them, burn the red tape [in government-speak that means a bi-partisan omnibus restructuring bill - in reality a lobbyist's wet dream]. You are going to have to be careful and be prepared to fight publicly to keep that bill focused on reform that is needed.

You should know that for decades Republicans have tried to do it. They would have succeeded if it weren't for a whole bunch of your customers us who are Veterans. Unsolicited piece of advice #6: Any thought you have about privatizing the VA will cost you your job. Talk with Anthony Principi about that.  

Where Do You Start?
Unsolicited piece of advice #7: Introduce something never seen at the VA: Common Sense. Let's start with the Veterans Benefit Administration. Everyone is going to tell you that the VBA is impossible to reform. Bullpucky.

The VBA is nothing more than Workman's Comp on steroids. There are thousands of people employed there who do nothing but gather paper and put them into tidy piles. Years ago someone figured out that the VBA spent $2.00 in processing a claim for every dime it spared the government from helping a soldier who didn't quite get killed. Common sense tells you what to do. Anybody walking around on 1 1/2 legs shouldn't have to wait 5 years to get her or his workman's comp.

Unsolicited piece of advice #8: Let me tell you where to find all of the VBA answers: Ask two workman's comp lawyers - one who represents management and one who represents employees. Tell them to hammer out a new process and ignore the red tape. The red tape you need to burn at the VBA is huge. Have fun with that. If you do you will hear cheers coming from liberals being drowned by cheers coming from Tea Party Republicans.

What to do about the Veterans Healthcare Administration

Common sense needs to be introduced at the Veteran's Health Administration, too. Right now you have 22 separate medical care systems called VISNS [you know at least 10 VA employees spent a year dreaming up that acronym] . Each is run independently. While I hated that idea there is some pretty good justification for it. Much of the rationale involves the differences in geography. Some VISNS are very good, others are horrible - and I don't mean just Phoenix. Florida is by far worse than Phoenix. Allegedly there is an indictable connection between VISN 8 and The Villages. It's said that some VA employee(s) or their family member(s) have a sizable unearned income. Unsolicited piece of advice #9: Have a chat with Eric Holder and see if it is possible to indict a few people in your first month as VA Secretary.

The most frustrating thing you will discover at VHA is that by-and-large the medical and technical staffs are excellent. Unsolicited piece of advice #10: Salute some heroes. Just an idea: there are a lot of heroes among the medical and technical people. How about a series of PSAs telling the taxpayers who they are and why they are heroes, and just to make it interesting have them selected by us - veterans. I'll bet most would trade that bonus check for some genuine gratitude. Oh, wait. Unsolicited piece of advice #11: The real heroes at the VHA aren't getting those checks. Bonus checks go only to the sharks.  Now there's something to fix.

There are VA employees who work there because, even though they have had their license suspended or revoked elsewhere, they have a friend. There aren't many of them, but they get huge amounts of print whenever they screw up. If you notice that the exposure of a screw up couldn't come at a more inopportune time, well, those are the VHA sharks testing you. The reason this is so frustrating is that the really good medical staff and really good technical people are a legitimate source of pride. You need to find a way to convey your appreciation for what I think are 90% of the VHA staff.

Congress and General Shinseki worked together to provide a good chunk of money in your first budget. It appears that you will be able to hire a whole lot of new people. The sharks are smiling over that. Between the US Civil Service Commission and the EEOC there is a enough red tape to delay new hires for about 2 years. Unsolicited piece of advice #12: Deal with the screwed up hiring process first - it will take longer than you can imagine. Meanwhile the sharks will be drumming their fingers implying that you just can't change everything over their objections.

Under General Shinseki's leadership one big thing changed.
Under General Shinseki's leadership there was one basic achievement at the VHA which was a profound change for the better. Unsolicited piece of advice #13: Affirm the most important thing the General accomplished. He treated us with respect. We as patients were no longer the enemy. I remember clearly when we were. That change in attitude towards Veterans produced a work force within VHA that made us as consumers appreciate them. As one nurse who retired last year said to me, "Until Shinseki showed up I used to hate my job. Now that I'm leaving I really love it." But, the sharks ate him.

Unsolicited piece of advice #14: Get behind the idea of re-naming the Portland Oregon Medical Center. It should be named The Eric Shinseki Medical Center. [Confession: that's my VA hospital and I moved from northern Illinois to Oregon just to be close to that hospital. I'm glad I did.] The history of the Department of Veterans Affairs will always be divided at the point General Shinseki took over.

Unsolicited piece of advice #15: Never forget: You are a Veteran, too. Whether you were commanding soldiers, or presiding over employees, you know that respect is a two-way street. One way to show that respect is to be honest with us about getting changes made and implementing corrections. Meet frequently with Veterans service organizations off the record, no cameras or taping allowed. Unsolicited piece of advice #16: Your combat experience has just begun.

Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 4:01 PM PT: It appears this is one of those rare diaries that continue to collect comments long after the first 2 or 3 hours it is posted. So, please continue to express your ideas and suggestions for the improvement of the Veterans Administration. Prior to General Shinseki a diary like this would attract only a litany of abuse heaped on the VA rather than suggestions for it's improvement.

Originally posted to llbear on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 03:10 PM PDT.

Also republished by Military Community Members of Daily Kos, DKos Military Veterans, Koscadia, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Unsolicited piece of advice #17 (63+ / 0-)

    The training units of each branch of the military produce an awesome number highly trained, extraordinary people too often overlooked.

    One example are Medical Corpsmen and Medics. I have worked with a number of former Army medics and Navy corpsmen.

    Many Veterans who have PTSD refuse to see a psychologist or psychiatrist yet the backlog of Veterans waiting for appointments is staggering. Most of the Vets I talk with following an appointment are angry that so little is accomplished. The real problem is that the Vets do not trust the mental health personnel.

    However, whenever these same Vets meet up with a former medic or corpsman, their attitude is much better. These Vets are able to trust the medics or corpsmen almost from the outset. The medics and corpsmen tend to drill right down to the heart of the problem the Veteran is trying to talk about.

    Common Sense says hire every single medic and corpsman possible before they leave the military. Cross-train them as Psychiatric Aids, pay them more than they could make at most hospitals and you will see a significant improvement in psychiatric outcomes.

    The time has come to repair this country and care for its' veterans.

    by llbear on Wed Jul 09, 2014 at 12:33:29 PM PDT

  •  Unsolicited piece of advice #18: Scandal involves (27+ / 0-)

    more than dumb management even if HuffPo's David Wood thinks it does. Outside of the military there are few government jobs that include a cost-of-living differential. What Wood is decrying is the practice of finding a governmental work-around to attract sufficient employees with the skills needed for a certain job. It's all tied to the cost-of-living in different geographic areas.

    The time has come to repair this country and care for its' veterans.

    by llbear on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 03:10:21 PM PDT

  •  Unsolicited piece of advice #19 (31+ / 0-)

    You know that minimum wage thingy? Well, a real scandal is how long it's been since Civil Service Employees have gotten an honest-to-God raise. Time for you to preach the role of proper compensation in raising employee moral.

    The time has come to repair this country and care for its' veterans.

    by llbear on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 03:29:07 PM PDT

    •  First however clean up the over-rating of jobs (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      which according to HuffPost is rampant and flagrant throughout the VA -- partly as a work-around, probably, but partly just because the system is broken and people who try to do their jobs monitoring how jobs are classified get bullied or fired.

      Apparently there is a reluctance to tamper with the over-classified jobs for fear people will quit. That sounds like a win-win, actually, if it clears out some of the people who are just looking for a cushy salary that is far higher than they would earn for a comparable private-sector job.

      IMO any change to the COLA needs to be coupled with bringing the classification system back into line with the civil service standards applicable to other Federal agencies.

      •  1973 - 1978 I was a member of the US Civil Service (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ladybug53, Vetwife

        Commission's Midwest Advisory Panel. The panel was comprised of the top old pro's in Civil Service from all the Midwestern states. Among the usual subject matter like hiring and firing practices and techniques was a very long discussion about job classifications and whether or not re-classification was a legal means of dealing with staffing problems.

        In other words, since the beginning of Civil Service proper job classification = labor/management argument.

        I was several decades younger than the next youngest panelist. It took a while for me to understand what their words really meant. When my boss's boss was given the Commission's Lifetime Achievement Award, he decided he had nothing more to learn by serving and sent me - his greenest employee - to represent the State of Illinois. That meant I was their coffee and pastry boy.

        The time has come to repair this country and care for its' veterans.

        by llbear on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 03:51:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Unsolicited piece of advice #20 (30+ / 0-)

    All over this country there are smaller community-based hospitals boarded up. A decade ago I tried to get the VA to take over a 100 bed hospital that was renovated and enlarged only 2 years before it was closed.

    With the help of the General Services Administration, the IRS, and the Attorney General's Office at least 300 of these facilities can be converted into CBOC's {Community Based Outpatient Clinics} and even residential facilities for those with PTSD.

    Common Sense says that those communities would welcome the VA and the jobs they would bring.

    The time has come to repair this country and care for its' veterans.

    by llbear on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 03:36:45 PM PDT

  •  cheers for llbear !! ♥ (23+ / 0-)

    wowie - you just produced the cheweyest diary and initial comments EVER. ♥ way to go, llbear !! ♥

    TRAILHEAD of accountability for Bush-2 Crimes? -- Addington's Perpwalk.

    by greenbird on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 03:42:24 PM PDT

  •  Just an unsolicited piece of advice for (23+ / 0-)

    Congressional staffers. You are overburdened with calls from Veterans, their wives, their children, and their parents. It's been that way for decades.

    Those calls will drop in number once the VA becomes candid with us. Push your Congressman or Senator to offer their support to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs without political posturing. Each of you dealing with constituent Veterans for more than 6 months have ideas of your own that will help to reduce their / our calls.

    The time has come to repair this country and care for its' veterans.

    by llbear on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 04:19:18 PM PDT

  •  llbear -- what a fantastic diary.... (17+ / 0-)

    As a military mom, I see things with our veterans through my mom eyes. But I hear the frustration in my son's voice.

    I'm with greenbird above, sending this to him would be a great way to start his tenure.

    I've been so busy with work, I don't get a chance to read many diaries, but I sure am glad that I stopped in today :).

    And bless you for all that you do with and for our Veterans.

  •  If you have seen one VA activity (7+ / 0-)

    you have seen only one VA activity. Full Stop.

    Quality varies very widely.

  •  Asking common sense of VA workers=overreach? (6+ / 0-)

    That's a lot to ask.
    I'd settle for accountability and "fire-ability."

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 05:22:29 PM PDT

  •  Please make sure Veterans are referred to (19+ / 0-)

    as veterans and not clients or customers.. The only thing they have been buying is a lot of bull in certain areas.
    Make sure the VA in Florida works as well as others elsewhere and I think the unsolicited advice above pretty well covers it.
    STOP or Recall the bonuses.   There should be a 3 strikes and you are out policy at the management level and don't let some VA's privatize as they are doing in Florida what can be done in a VA Facility.
    I have tons of unsoloicited advice but you make run away if I hit too hard on what I think needs to be done.. Check thoese so called administrators out and bonuses if ever given again should have a cap of no more than $500.00 after careful review.....Not just I know Joe did a good job.
    Personally I do not think there should be a bonus program.  I believe ..Do your job or lose your job... The incentive is your paycheck not a golden parachute for poor performance.

    Just how much Koch do Right Wingers want in their life? . United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 05:38:15 PM PDT

  •  Great diary. (12+ / 0-)

    You should indeed send it to him. And I like both of your ideas re General Shinseki.

  •  Wow! (9+ / 0-)

    I agree, send this to him and to President Obama :)


    "Love One Another" ~ George Harrison

    by Damnit Janet on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 08:20:18 PM PDT

  •  Outstanding diary, llbear! (7+ / 0-)

    If I had me druthers, I'd put you at the helm! Since he is from a large company, I would think that implementation of a completely modern, re-vamped computer network would be in order, as well...SSK

    "Hey Clinton, I'm bushed" - Keith Richards UID 194838

    by Santa Susanna Kid on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 08:21:15 PM PDT

  •  IIbear, your advise is outstanding (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaNang65, llbear, WakeUpNeo, jack 1966, oofer, eyo

    I look forward to this as much as you do to see if real change can be made.  The General did a helluva job with a screwed system, but your right, the sharks got him.  Lets hope this man fins them and sends them to the bottom of the tank.  Great diary, thanks.

    •  Lets hope this man FINS them and sends them (0+ / 0-)

      to the bottom of the tank.

      I had to read that 3 times before I understood exactly what you meant. Some days I'm old, other days I'm . . . what was I saying?

      The time has come to repair this country and care for its' veterans.

      by llbear on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 08:46:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank You. And two other pieces of unsolicited (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mkard, Orinoco, jack 1966

    1. All combat veterans who don't qualify for any of the foregoing provide 30,000 per annum in support starting at age 60 if honorably discharged.
    2. Provide all medical care as part of Medicare and available to all veterans who served honorably dependent upon income and subject to some copays.

    And lastly - remove the VA bureaucracy which exist entirely to prevent the allocation of benefits rather than to provide them under the misguided view that all veterans are scum sucking weasels who will parlay a few years of combat service in a life of ease. Such repug BS!!!!!

    And I am Kilrain of the 20th Maine. And I damn all gentlemen. Whose only worth is their father's name And the sweat of a workin' man Steve Earle - Dixieland

    by shigeru on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 08:55:08 PM PDT

    •  We owe them. (4+ / 0-)

      I agree with much of what you said.

      I comment, for the most part because I really like the tag that you use.

      Semper Fi.

      p.s.  Shinseki got the short straws.  Took it like a man every time though.  When the United States Veteran's Affairs Washington D.C. Headquarters, Outreach Center and Memorial to Tough, Tough Guys who Cared Headquarters is next built, it MUST be named for the one-time General Eric Shinseki.  The man took it.  Regardless,he just took it all from whomever flung it.   Because to do so benefited the most of those in need.  Courage, had that one.  The gods will smile upon him.

      We are a great nation because we can still produce great human beings.  Wish upon us more of them.  


    •  OK, I can't recommend your comment. (4+ / 0-)

      You can use Medicare for your primary care right now and still come to the VA for treatment of service related problems. BUT DON'T MESS WITH MY VA CARE, thankyouverymuch.

      The automatic pension for every combat Veteran sounds good but is way too easy to not fund sufficiently.

      I understand your feelings about the VBA and have told the tale of VBA's shabby treatment of several Vets. I've worked with a number of Veterans who had perfectly valid claims denied with the excuse that they could always appeal the initial ruling.

      The time has come to repair this country and care for its' veterans.

      by llbear on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 11:50:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for writing this diary. We are fortunate (5+ / 0-)

    in MA to have a well functioning VA Medical Facility.

    Unsolicited piece of advice #22 - Find the states that have been successful without the corruption (?) and use those as models for the other states.

    "We know too much to go back and pretend" - Helen Reddy (humble cosmos shaker)

    by ditsylilg on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 09:10:34 PM PDT

  •  Forwarded to Congressman Renacci (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nuclear winter solstice, llbear

    and his staff.

    Ohio Region Ten, Congressional District 20.

    @punkin4 @rndebm

    My wife and my sister, respectively.

    Artist; exhibit's-Navy History Museum, Le Femme Folles. Proud wife of Punkin4.

    by glbTVET on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 11:51:20 PM PDT

    •  Congressional District 16 is Renacci's district (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Vetwife, OhBlueMeanie

      Congressmen Marcy Kaptur, Congressional District 9, Congressman Marcia Fudge, Congressional District 11, and Congressman Jim Renacci, Congressional District 16 should all be involved with McDonald's appointment. All of them can claim him as a local candidate.
      Senators Brown and Portman will be involved leading McDonald through the confirmation process.

      Congressional District 20 is obsolete as of 1993

      The time has come to repair this country and care for its' veterans.

      by llbear on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 08:25:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Long Under Funded (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    While the 99% Poser Patriots wave them flags!!

    That under funding not only creates problems, Miller knows:

    That means focusing on solving problems instead of downplaying or hiding them,
    As for decades theis is exactly what the conservative ideology has been, Not to as they seek to privatize government for corporate profit off the peoples treasury and as still government agencies, called 'smaller government' they control the ability to increase those bottom line profits in the budgets, which wouldn't go to what the increases are targeted for, think under funded across the board means also under funded inside agency investigative abilities to reign in corruption!

    Notice how when, especially Millers House Committee, they have the Attack the VA hearings they never mention the many problems within the private sector flowing with cash to fix but are ignored till caught or pushed!

    Problems created snowball into more problems while Dedicated agency employee's Actually try to give the care and needs they are charged with. Ignoring the many issues, especially, Military return from our flag waving wars means no need to fund which bring on many other problems. Passing oh so patriotic sounding bills with no added funding only gives those attacking the ammo needed for more attacks and Millers a press seeking pol who's expert at that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    "If military action is worth our troops' blood, it should be worth our treasure, too; not just in the abstract, but in the form of a specific ante by every American." -Andrew Rosenthal 10 Feb. 2013

    by jimstaro on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 03:28:01 AM PDT

    •  In Short Reality (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Meanwhile the Veterans Bill sits in the House going no where!! They got the Gen. "Mission Accomplished" problems solved!!!

      DeJa-Vu all over again and now for decades:

      That means focusing on solving problems instead of downplaying or hiding them,
      Conservative ideology is Not to solve but create problems, makes private sector argument more appealing. Like big defense bills and hawkish speaks make them 'strong on national defense', just screw those serving in that defense!!!!

      "If military action is worth our troops' blood, it should be worth our treasure, too; not just in the abstract, but in the form of a specific ante by every American." -Andrew Rosenthal 10 Feb. 2013

      by jimstaro on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 03:33:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They Got The Gen. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        llbear, Vetwife

        With help from the few inside the agency, and those got rewarded, giving Miller what he needs to use with the many hearings held Not to help the agency but to destroy it and those they don't like at the top, the bushco three VA secretaries were highly praised and did nothing, while conservative congresses pooh poohed the problems that came out publicly, one being the many flattops coming up missing, and were also highly praised by those service groups you mention including the new for these two wars the IAVA. Even Burr got high praise, still does, for meaningless unfunded bills for veterans he signs on to or creates!!

        "If military action is worth our troops' blood, it should be worth our treasure, too; not just in the abstract, but in the form of a specific ante by every American." -Andrew Rosenthal 10 Feb. 2013

        by jimstaro on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 03:40:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You got it, Jim. Every problem Miller's Committee (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Vetwife, OhBlueMeanie

          has been beating their desks over have been around for decades. Given the red tape Congress has created with conflicting laws directing VA to jump through one hoop or another, the VA will never be able to be cleaned up.

          Time to trot out the "Blue Ribbon Congressional Study Committee", 2 or 3 million bucks to write up another screed lamenting the state of the VA with strong suggestions about privatizing "just a few parts" of the VA.

          If the White House really wants to do something big for Veterans, it would put Sloan Gibson of charge of identifying & eliminating red tape, a superstar IT person to install a management activity tracking program, and offer early retirement to all of top VA management.

          The time has come to repair this country and care for its' veterans.

          by llbear on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 09:24:32 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I Shared the Below Yesterday (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    In a diary I wrote. It's a letter I sent to the White House, that I hope I see requested done and hope they, especially within the Presidents and Vice Presidents families they were already planning:

    Mr President,

    Please don't allow Gen Shinseki to go out as the Conservatives who targeted him sought. I would hope that at some time before you leave office you include him in giving Honor to his Service,Country and Especially us Veterans and award him a 'Presidential Medal of Freedom'! If any deserve he certainly does! After all he accomplished and Finally started addressing while Secretary of the VA, and doing so with the full help of you, those close to you especially Michelle, the Cabinet when they could help, including the VP and his wife Jill. He couldn't have done it on his own and with the continued gross under funding, especially in these times of full congressional obstruction, without that help.

    Taking on not only the needs of today's young Veterans but addressing so many long ignored/denied existed issues of the previous decades and wars from!

    I have a few posts someone can visit to get my meaning, keeping in mind I'm not a writer if you will:

    'To Those 99% Served, 'Build the Veterans Administration Promised!!' '

    'The Other Side, Reality, of the so called VA 'scandal' '

    'Veterans Bill STILL In Negotiations?'

    As I'm a forced into early retirement construction professional multi tradesman, during the total economic collapse. But also a proud member, non military injured, of the Veterans Community: USN All Shore '67-'71 GMG3 Vietnam In Country '70-'71. I'm not the only one who feels that the Gen, Shinseki, was probably the Best VA Secretary of our lifetimes, as he recognized how antiquated and behind the VA has been and the Poser Patriotism of using us Veterans kept it that way. Along with much of the Government we expect and served to protect!

    I hope that your designate, Robert A. McDonald, continues what the General finally started with your help and support. Hoping also that becauise he comes from the corporate world he doesn't try and seek more privatization, we don't serve the corporate world we serve the country and it's their responsibility that they haven't understood!!

    Thank You, if you follow up with the Honor. Let him go out as he should, at the Top of our society!!!!!!

    Shinseki will be greatly missed!! He, with the help of this entire Executive Branch and Cabinet, with two wars dumped on them started also addressing the long ignored and some denied issues of us Veterans from the previous decades and wars of, while issues had already started being ignored as to these two wars, also addressed!!

    "If military action is worth our troops' blood, it should be worth our treasure, too; not just in the abstract, but in the form of a specific ante by every American." -Andrew Rosenthal 10 Feb. 2013

    by jimstaro on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 03:48:59 AM PDT

  •  I work for the Dept of VA Affairs (7+ / 0-)

    My advice, and everyone I work with agrees (except management) that we need to do away with the point system.  Basically "the point system" is every claim we touch has points attached to them.  We need to get certain points in order to keep our jobs.  We also have "quality control" people who review our work and can give us errors on our work that would then make us unemployed.  All this has to be done within an 8 hour work period.  So the more difficult cases get pushed to the back of the line because they take too long to process and will not give us the required "points" we need.  If a case is not a fast hit, it too gets pushed to the back of the pile...hence the so-called "back-log".  All of this is well known in the VA world, we have been fighting this point system for YEARS.  We are told how else can they determine if EVERYONE is working?  I ask you, what other agency private or government has such a ridiculous system?  Basically we are all tied to our desks day in and day out not unlike sweat shops.  This is the culture of the VA...not the hospital (that I am aware of) but the VBA which issues compensation to injured veterans.  This is why disabled vets have to sometimes wait so long to get their compensation.  That and the fact that we have more Veterans due to the Iraq war, but no new workers to help with this new influx due to the so-called hiring freeze and a freeze on wages.  Shinseki believed erroneously that we could get the back-log down to 125 days by yelling at people to work harder, work harder.  What happened?  Workers began to "cook the books" to make it seem that the new requirements were met, but the same problems had not been addressed...only glossed over with shiny new paint.

  •  Perhaps Robert McDonald should hire/enlist.... (5+ / 0-)

    several people like you llbear, to guide him, to make Robert successful and turn this nightmare around once and for all.  I would image titles could be:

    Assistant to the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs

    Special Envoy to the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs

    No man is an island, and Mr. McDonald should lean on experts in the field, actual veterans with actual needs, to perform his job.

    "A weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered." Ralph Waldo Emerson

    by Yo Bubba on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 05:30:42 AM PDT

  •  Tipped, recced AND hotlisted. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oofer, llbear, eyo


    Strength and dignity are her clothing, she rejoices at the days to come; She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue.

    by loggersbrat on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 07:55:38 AM PDT

  •  Well 'Boy Howdy', not surprised (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    llbear, eyo, Unitary Moonbat, Vetwife

    This still isn't on the 'rec list' but at least ya got the 'community spotlight'!!

    Shoulda put in some FOX speak or GOP ever changing scandals from hour to hour, maybe!!

    "If military action is worth our troops' blood, it should be worth our treasure, too; not just in the abstract, but in the form of a specific ante by every American." -Andrew Rosenthal 10 Feb. 2013

    by jimstaro on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 08:44:00 AM PDT

  •  Really, really well done, llbear! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eyo, llbear, OhBlueMeanie

    We'll have to meet sometime. You are a vet I would like to know and work with. As much as I can work, at any rate.

    Great suggestions for our new SecVA. I have to use the Portland VA for much of my specialty care. I find the place over worked but highly competent. The clinics and the 4th floor POPs unit are exceptional. They have saved my life and improved my conditions.

    I also came from the Northern Illinois area via the usually lived everywhere route. I spent a couple of years near the Palo Alto VA and found it exceptional as well. Two operations there and lots of recovery.

    The VA needs a strong leader with a focus on Vets. I had high hopes for Eric Shinseki. And I believe you are right on saying the sharks ate him. There is much good hidden behind the massive crap at the VA. I am fortunate to have had the VA be there for me, though it took a long, long time to get into the system.

    Here's to meeting you soon.

    Single payer IS the answer.

    by oofer on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 09:44:47 AM PDT

  •  Unsolicited advice #22: Never create a Veteran (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rugbymom, 417els, Vetwife

    We're expensive to maintain, we complain all the time, a bunch of us act crazy, and another bunch are drunks. But, no matter how bad we act or how bad we look, we always look good posing with one politician or another.
    Mike Bailey [Testvet, R.I.P.]

    BUT if you must send in the military, prepay their medical expenses. That is as much a cost of war as a tank, a tent, bomber, or bullet.

    The time has come to repair this country and care for its' veterans.

    by llbear on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 10:21:45 AM PDT

  •  Rec'd, Tip'd and Tweeted (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vetwife, llbear, byardl

    llbear, this is a really truly magnificent piece of work.

    Hopefully, the new VA Administrator gets the opportunity to read it.

    "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

    by Angie in WA State on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 04:14:57 PM PDT

  •  Don't know if this is still the case . . . (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vetwife, llbear

    When I lived in Bristol, TN, 1996 -- 2005, the staff at the VA medical center in Johnson City, TN, was shot through with nepotism.  Something like 40 percent of the staff were all part of the same extended family, relatives of the . . . are you ready for this? . . . relatives of the head of the Human Resources Dept.

    •  I have personal experience with Nashville. (0+ / 0-)

      There the problem was pure laziness by the entire ER medical team. I was trying to help a suicidal Veteran and they treated me like a full-blown terrorist.

      Am I surprised? Absolutely not. While I wouldn't automatically fire all of the HR employee's relatives, I would fire the HR employee. Then I would do one-on-one interviews with co-workers of each relative followed by interviews with the supervisors of each relative. Those relatives who are universally respected get to stay, the others . . . well, everything from reclassification to termination is on the table.

      The time has come to repair this country and care for its' veterans.

      by llbear on Sat Jul 12, 2014 at 09:22:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I am a VMAC physician assistant (0+ / 0-)

    in the Minneapolis area.  First, fabulous writing, llbear, and thank you for your service.

    I have many thoughts but will attempt to be concise.  First, I love my job.  I work in a CBOC and have my own panel of veterans. I routinely work 10 or more hours/day, as do most of my fellow providers, and many work from home as well. The recent horrific publicity has made us all literally sick, particularly that the actions of some in management have sullied us all. (For what it is worth, I have met the shamed director of the Phoenix VA and let's just say I am not at all surprised by her actions.  A narcissist of the nth degree). I take great pride in the care I provide.  I would also never go back to work in the corporate medical world.  Privatizing the VA would be a terrible mistake.  I routinely spend an hour or more with my new patients.  Do you think veterans will receive that level of attention in the cha-ching, crank-out-a-patient-every 10 minutes culture of for-profit medicine? I assure you they will not, although I have noted that many private practice docs are salivating at the prospect of getting a piece of this pie.

    Another point I want to make is that firing people needs to be facilitated not just for management.  Unfortunately, I work with people who do far better in the VA than they would in the private sector, but are slackers and need to be pushed to do their jobs.  I am talking mainly support staff, such as LPNs.  The ones I work with are awful, but they run to the union every time they are asked to do something, and they know they can't be fired. There are plenty of hard-working Americans who would love to have these good government jobs with benefits. Anyway, we need to clean house at this level and get rid of the deadwood.

    One huge utilization on our resources is veterans without service-connected problems, have good private insurance and Medicare, but wish to come to the VA only to get cheaper drugs.  I cannot blame them; the VA can negotiate drug costs whereas Bush made sure Medicare could not.  The drugs may be Viagra, blood pressure meds, or cancer drugs, among others. One of our doctors submitted a proposal on the national level in which the VA would set up a mail-order pharmacy like Express Scripts.  This way, the outside doctor can send the prescription to this pharmacy, and eligible veterans can receive their medications without having to come to the VA.  This would free up more appointments for service-connected veterans, or those who have no other resources.

    There is much more to discuss, but I believe strongly that the VA does provide excellent care on the whole, and this has been borne out by various metrics.  The problem VISNs need to be dealt with.  The  problems in the Red state VAs are compounded by the sheer number of elderly who flock there.

    •  It's been a long week for me. I'm sorry I missed (0+ / 0-)

      your excellent comment. It's worthy or a diary all by itself.
      You might find this unbelievable but prior to Shinseki's appointment that malaise you find in LPN's I found throughout VA.

      I'm 69 years old and gay. I began as a patient with the VA about the same time I passed the torch on AIDS/HIV activism. I was among the first in Chicago to call a meeting to deal with - well, we didn't know what. I was active in liberal Democratic politics. I ended up getting the job of blackmailing the State of Illinois legislature into funding health care for people with AIDS. It was that ugly.

      It turns out that I got involved with veterans when I saw the kids who were sent to fight the Gulf War sitting in the waiting rooms of the Lakeside VA hospital. They had the same 1000-mile stare I saw on guys I served with in Viet Nam. I said, "Never again. Ever."

      I wasn't alone. Welcome aboard.

      However, until we get a good handle on the next Secretary, don't ID yourself any further. Midwest VA Doc is enough.

      The time has come to repair this country and care for its' veterans.

      by llbear on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 09:26:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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