Sunday, October 01, 2017
Does Congress need one more crooks?
ONE TIME ATTORNEY, FBI AGENT AND MARINE MICHAEL GRIMM WANTS TO RUN FOR THE U.S. CONGRESS AGAIN
OH, YEAH, AND HE WAS REMOVED FROM CONGRESS AT THE START OF 2015 -- THE SAME YEAR HE BEGAN SERVING HIS 8 MONTH PRISON SENTENCE FOR TAX EVASION
HE'S APPARENTLY RUNNING ON THE "SEND ANOTHER CROOK TO CONGRESS" TICKET.
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
we focused on the first panel of this week's hearing on veterans
suicides by the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. Today, we'll look at
the second panel. The Committee Chair is Senator Johnny Isakson, the
Ranking Member is Senator Jon Tester. The witness for the second panel
was VA Secretary David J. Shulkin (Dr. Shulkin).
Senator Patty Murray did a great job providing leadership when she was
the Committee Chair and she continues to do important work on the
It we report on a committee in more than one snapshot, I usually look at
the press after the first snapshot to see what was covered and what
wasn't and I'm not seeing a lot on women veterans.
The first part of the exchange we're highlighting?
It's more of the same from the VA.
Senator Patty Murray: But I do remain deeply troubled by the IG's
findings from May 2017 that VA is not complying with a number of
policies including 18% of facilities not meeting the requirement for
five outreach activities each month, 11% of high risk medical patients
did not have a suicide safety prevention plan, and for 20% of inpatients
and 10% of outpatients no documentation that the patient was provided a
copy of the safety plan. There were several shortcomings in the use
of patient record flags, coordination of care for patients at high risk
of suicide and critical improvements for patients, after discharge. 16%
of non-clinical employees did not receive suicide prevention training
and more than 45% clinicians did not complete suicide risk management
training within the first 90 days. So when it comes to suicide
prevention policy, anything less than 100% isn't acceptable. So when
will all the IG's recommendations be fully implemented?
Secretary David Shulkin: Well, so, first of all, this is exactly why
the IG is valuable -- pointing this out. I have no other mechanism to
get data that comprehensive. So we have committed to addressing the IG
concerns. The reason why we have made suicide prevention our number one
priority and made all our leadership this month sign off on the
declaration is to fix those issues. We've committed to training. So
over this year -- Look, 100% is the right goal, but I can't tell you
exactly what date we're going to reach that. But we're going to be
working really hard to get as close to that as possible as quickly as
Senator Patty Murray: Well Senator Moran alluded to it. At the
veteran suicide hearing at the appropriation committee back in April, I
asked for monthly updates until all of the problems at the crisis line
are resolved. VA has not done that and that is really unacceptable. So
I want a commitment from you today -- to all of us -- that we will get
those updates starting right now.
Secretary David Shulkin: I think you have that committment, yes.
Senator Patty Murray: Okay, well we intend to see that happen.
Again, more of the same.
How does VA give their word to provide the Senate with updates in April and now, in September, it's still not being done.
Do VA officials need to be handed paperwork in hearings to sign in order
to get them to comply with the verbal promises they repeatedly make to
Congress but somehow fail to follow up on?
There is no excuse for giving your word to Congress in April and failing to deliver five months later.
It's outrageous and so typical of the VA's repeated interaction with the VA -- Allison Hickey was infamous for this nonsense.
Now let's move to women veterans.
Senator Patty Murray: Let me ask about women veterans -- this is
something I've asked about many times. I am really disturbed in the
increase in suicide rate among our women veterans. Between 2001 and
14, the rate of suicide for women veterans who do not use VA care
increased by 98%. Now I've heard from women veterans many times that
they don't think of themselves as veterans and I hear far too often
from women who don't feel welcome at VA facilities, don't feel that that
is their place. It is a significant problem actually that the RAND
Corporation testified in April as well. But this increase in suicide is
the most important reason yet that I believe VA has to redouble its
efforts to reach out to women and get them into care. So I wanted to
ask you what are we doing to address that?
Secretary David Shulkin: Well, you gave a really important statistic
-- which is that those over the last 15 years between 2001 and 2014 --
those women that did not receive care in the VA that the rate of
suicide went up by an extraordinary number. You said 98%. Those that
did use the VA, we actually saw a decrease -- a decrease in suicide
rates over that 15 year period of 2.6% So we know that particularly in
this situation, but for all veterans -- getting care makes a difference
and saves lives. The issue about making the VA more welcoming to women
is a critical issue. It's a cultural issue. And we have worked hard
to create women centers and to chance the culture and environment. I
speak about this, so does our center for women veterans, all the time.
But, of course, we are absolutely -- at this is our number one priority
-- committed to doing much more and to be more progressive and to put
more resources into this.
Senator Patty Murray: Okay, well this is something we have to keep
working on because if a woman doesn't consider herself as a veteran she
doesn't think about going to the VA.
Secretary David Shulkin: Right.
Senator Patty Murray: This is something we have to keep working on
because if a woman doesn't consider herself as a veteran, she doesn't
think about going to the VA.
Secretary David Shulkin: Right.
Senator Patty Murray: If she is not welcome at the VA or doesn't
feel that veterans facility is welcoming to her, she won't go. If she
has other issues -- child care, work -- it's doubly hard. This is not
an easy problem to solve but we really have to put hearts, minds and
resources and -- as a country -- really recognize women veterans.
Senator Murray has been working on this issue for years. I can remember
back to 2006 and it probably pre-dates my memory. (John Hall, when he
was in the House, also worked hard on this issue. His book STILL THE ONE
, came out last year.)
Why might women not feel welcomed?
There are many cultural reasons. But to cite some of the issues that
Murray and Hall raised -- a lack of changing tables in the restrooms,
either no doors on the examining rooms or the doors to the examining
room being left open during an exam.
There are many issues that thought seems to have stopped at the VA on.
Murray, Hall and others have led the VA into the 21st century. But more still needs to be done.
And while there are things that valuable members of Congress like Patty
Murray can lead on, there are also things we can lead on outside of
Congress in our every day lives.
Chief among them?
It can easily be she.
Grasp that veterans (and service members) can be men or be women.
Grasp that, despite policies, women have been in combat.
Iraq, for example, was a war zone -- not a part of Iraq, not a section, the entire country.
VETERANS ASSEMBLED ELECTRONICS noted in 2016
Women have been serving at record numbers. In fact, women make up an unprecedented eight percent of all U.S. veterans.
That is close to two million women. The situation has become so dire
that the Department of Veterans Affairs had to take action. They formed a
Women Veterans Task Force to address these unique issues.
According to the task force, there are six critical areas facing women veterans today.
Women Veterans Issue #1 – Health Care
Neither the Department of Veterans Affairs nor The Department of
Defence can handle the specific health issues that women veterans face.
Hospitals and medical centers are too understaffed to deal with the
volume of patients. Especially in the areas of gynecology and
obstetrics. In fact, one-third of the VA’s medical centers do not have a
gynecologist on staff. Even though the demand for such care continues
Regardless of the staffing issues the VA and DoD face, they still lack the facilities and specialty equipment needed. Research conducted
by the VA shows a staggering lack of care. Almost one in five women
veterans have delayed or gone without needed care in the prior 12
Where and how to get help – VA Health Care for Women Veterans
At each VA medical center nationwide, a Women Veterans Program
Manager (WVPM)is available. The WVPM is an individual designated to
advise and advocate for women Veterans. The WVPM can help coordinate all
the services you may need. From primary care to specialized care for
chronic conditions to reproductive health.
Women Veterans interested in receiving care at the VA should contact the nearest VA Medical Center and ask for the WVPM.
Learn more about the VA Health Care for Women Veterans.
Women Veterans Issue #2 – Military Sexual Trauma
Sexual abuse, harassment, and even rape are reaching epidemic proportions in the military. In fact,
20% of women enrolled in VA health care screen positive for MST
(military sexual trauma.) Yet, over 31% of VA centers say they can’t
provide adequate services. Often times the chain-of-command is part of
the problem. As a result, neither active duty women service members nor
veterans know who to turn to for help.
Where and how to get help – Military Sexual Trauma Coordinator
Every VA facility has a designated MST Coordinator who serves as a
contact person for MST-related issues. This person is your advocate.
They can help you find and access VA services and programs.
Additionally, they can help you sign up for state and federal benefits,
and access to community resources. This includes free, confidential
counseling and treatment. Even if you don’t qualify for other VA care,
you can still get the help you need. You don’t even have to have
reported the incident or have documentation that it occurred. Just
contact your local area coordinator and get the help you need.
Learn more about MST and other violence and abuse from the “Make the connection” website.
Women Veterans Issue #3 – Mental Health
The VA and DoD have difficulty providing gender-specific care. In
particular, a lack of specialized inpatient mental health care designed
to meet the needs and preferences of women. This includes peer support
and group therapy.
Where and how to get help – Mental Health
As mentioned above, each VA medical center nationwide offers a Women
Veterans Program Manager (WVPM). The WVPM is available to help you.
Women Veterans interested in receiving care should contact the nearest
VA Medical Center and ask for the WVPM.
Learn more about the VA Health Care for Women Veterans.
Women Veterans Issue #4 – Disabled Vets
Women who have lost one or more limbs may not receive support and
care tailored to their needs. Furthermore, women are less likely to have
a prosthetic that fits properly. Unfortunately, the VA has not been
able to keep up with the number of women veterans returning with such
Where and how to get help – Disabled Vets
The good news is that there a number of civilian organizations who
have stepped in to fill the gaps left by the VA health care system.
The Disabled Veterans National Foundation
exists to provide critical support to disabled and at-risk vets.
Veterans who leave the military wounded—physically or
psychologically—after defending our safety and our freedom.
Also, there is the Disabled American Veterans
Organization. The DAV is a nonprofit charity. They provide a lifetime
of support for veterans of all generations – including their families.
The DAV helps more than 1 million veterans with positive, life-changing
benefits each year.
Of course, you should always start with your Women Veterans Program
Manager (WVPM). We cannot overstate this. They have access to the most
current information and can point you in the right direction.
Women Veterans Issue #5 – Unemployment
Post-9/11 women veterans have higher unemployment rates than male
veterans and non-veteran women. Challenges in the labor market are
exacerbated by medical and mental health concerns.
Where and how to get help – Unemployment
Believe it or not, the best place to start with unemployment issues is with the US Department of Labor. The “Gold Card initiative”
helps provide post 9/11 veterans with intense services and follow-ups.
Something needed to succeed in today’s meager job market. This
initiative is a joint effort of the Department of Labor’s Employment and
Training Administration (ETA), and the Veterans’ Employment and
Training Service (VETS).
Women Veterans Issue #6 – Homelessness
Women veterans are at least twice as likely to be homeless
as non-veteran females. Furthermore, women veterans are also more likely
to be single parents. This makes life extraordinarily difficult for
Where and how to get help – Homelessness
No veteran, regardless of gender, should be without a place to call
home. As such, the Department of Veterans Affairs has created an entire
department designed to help deal with homelessness.
Homeless veterans and those at imminent risk of becoming homeless should call or visit their local VA Medical Center. Additionally, they can reach out to their Community Resource and Referral Center where VA staff are ready to help.
The good news is that the VA is making progress. In addition to the
resources listed above, the Department of Veterans Affairs has created
the Center for Women Veterans.
Here you can find an entire section dedicated to resources designed to
help with the issues listed above and more. There are also Women Veteran
Coordinators (WVC’s) located in every regional VA office. They are your
primary point of contact.
There are also innumerable private agencies and nonprofit organizations that can help. The best place to start is with the National Resource Directory.
The DoD maintains this directory. Here, you can find over 17,000
organizations to help you. Every one of these resources has been
thoroughly vetted and approved by the DoD.
If you have an emergency, need assistance, or want more information,
the VA has established a Women Veterans hotline: 1-855-VA-WOMEN
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Posted at 05:35 pm by thecommonills