A Historic Success for Veterans Service

August 24, 2015 – U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/22436/va-claims-backlog-now-under-100000-lowest-in-department-history/?utm_source=govdelivery&utm_medium=email&utm_content=emotion&utm_campaign=backlog%20reduction%20promotion

This week, the VA reduced the disability claims backlog to 98,535 claims – an 84% reduction from its peak and a historic low. This reduction means that Veterans’ disability claim decisions are being delivered more accurately and efficiently. The faster Veterans receive completed claim decisions, the quicker they can access the benefits they are entitled to.

Problems keep piling up for Veterans Affairs Department

July 18, 2015 – Associated Press

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/07/18/problems-keep-piling-up-for-veterans-affairs-department/

Associated Press contributor, Mathew Daly, points out the finger pointing from lawmakers directed at the VA, and reciprocal defensive comments from government administrators trying to fix the VA, have muddied the waters. Many in congress demand that firings be used as a measure of progress, while the VA counterpoint is if you give us the funding you approved, and now threaten to hold back, we can move forward. As Congress is well aware, getting rid of government personnel is not a quick process, nor necessarily a measure of progress.

Editorial Comment

Beneath the headline battles and politicized finger-pointing, veterans still struggle to get the care they earned by their service and the necessary analysis of setting service delivery priorities becomes blurred and delayed.

Female military veteran suicide rate is six times greater than other women

June 8, 2015 by Alan Zarembo

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-female-veteran-suicide-20150608-story.html#page=1

Suicide expert, Dr. Mathew Miller, says, “We have to come to come to grips with why they are so obscenely high.” The report’s author, VA epidemiologist Claire Hoffmire, suggested that these suicide rates may have more to do with who chooses to join the military than what happens during their service.

Editorial Comment

As women make up a growing number of our military forces, it becomes imperative that we understand not only issues existing before they enlist, but also conditions imposed upon them during and after their service.

IAVA Survey Upends Department Of Veterans Affairs Claims

May 4, 2015 by Benjamin Krause

http://www.disabledveterans.org/2015/05/04/iava-survey-upends-department-of-veterans-affairs-claims/

The IAVA survey highlights growing dissatisfaction with VA health care, questioning the VA’s assertion that veterans prefer VA care vs. other options and says severe problems still exist with disability compensation wait list delays. The IAVA study was based on gathered claims from veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan. The VA claimed veterans liked VA care better was inferred by their low use of the Veterans Choice Card, issued 3 months ago.

Editorial Comment

Both surveys’ apparent conflicts catch vets in the middle. They may be more of a nonproductive argument among oranges and apples. The IAVA survey focus is on delayed benefits, the VA’s on satisfaction with medical care. Older veterans seem more satisfied and used to operating within the VA system, while the younger cohort, represented by IAVA, is more aggressive in getting their benefits. Most will agree that severe backlogs in benefits or healthcare delivery annoy all those caught in its claws.

At Phoenix VA, Obama Says More Work to do for Veterans

March 14, 2015 – Modern Healthcare

http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20150314/NEWS/303149936/at-phoenix-va-obama-says-more-work-to-do-for-veterans

Amid persistent complaints about veterans’ healthcare, President Barack Obama acknowledged lingering weaknesses Friday in the federal government’s response to the chronic delays and false waiting lists that triggered a national outcry over the Veterans Affairs health system last year.

Obama said that while VA Secretary Robert McDonald is “chipping away” at the problem, it was clear there was still more work to do.

“It’s important that veterans know that somebody’s got their backs, and that if there are problems that we’re not being defensive about it, not hiding it,” Obama said.

Read more

The Moral Injury

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/17/opinion/david-brooks-the-moral-injury.html?_r=0

“Most discussion about PTSD thus far has been about fear and the conquering of fear. But, over the past few years, more people have come to understand PTSD is also about exile — moral exile.”

Editorial Comment

David Brooks reviews the recent spate of books by returning veterans describing their moral isolation from civilian society and suggests much more interaction and mutual understanding than simply “thank you for your service” is needed to help a veterans feel trusted, respected, and understood: key elements their reintegration into the civilian homeland.

Penn researcher helps health care providers win hearts, minds of veteran

By Maiken Scott,WHYY, Philadelphia, February 2014

http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/item/64716-helping-healthcare-providers-win-hearts-and-minds-of-veterans

Most veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan do not receive regular care at Veterans Affairs hospitals for their physical and emotional wounds, and do not tell their civilian doctors where they been. This creates barriers that prevent vets from getting care, wants to help health care providers serve this population better.

Gala True, who is researching barriers that prevent vets from getting care, wants to help health care providers serve this population better. She recently published research that speaks to the disconnect between soldiers’ war time and civilian identities, and their struggles to reconnect to their civilian lives.

“Doctors must work to get to know their veteran patients. Health care providers need to win the hearts and minds of the soldier that needs the treatment.”

Editorial Comment

With over 80% of San Diego’s veterans receiving their medical care from civilian providers, it is imperative that those physicians’ ask a simple question, “Are you a veteran?”