MORE WORK TO DO FOR OUR VETERANS: PREPARE A SUPPORT SYSTEM

The national press is replete with ways to help our veterans, providing research, statistics and information about what is truly happening. As I have spoken about some of the issues surrounding suicide, family support, healthcare and treatment of our veterans, it is clear that we have a long way to go before we are doing enough for those who have put their lives in harm’s way for our country. At minimum, when they return home, a system of support should be prepared and in place for them.

What support do we have in place ready to provide our veterans?

Chairman Jeff Miller releases a letter to Obama (image courtesy of Ricksblog.com)

Chairman Jeff Miller releases a letter to Obama (image courtesy of Ricksblog.com)

On July 11, 2013, this article was released: WASHINGTON, DC – On May 21, 2013, Chairman Jeff Miller wrote President Obama to request his assistance in addressing a rash of suicides, deaths and other serious patient-care issues at Department of Veterans’ Affairs medical centers across the country. After nearly two months without a response from the president, Chairman Miller today released the letter (read it here) along with the following statement:

A pattern of heartbreaking veteran deaths, suicides and a host of other patient safety issues have cast a dark shadow over VA medical centers around the country. For months we have tried in vain to compel VA leaders to take meaningful steps to prevent future adverse incidents by holding accountable VA employees and managers responsible for letting patients fall through the cracks.

Unfortunately, department officials seem more intent on issuing bureaucratic slaps on the wrist than the sort of serious punishments required to send a message that substandard care for veterans will not be tolerated. What’s more, patient deaths apparently aren’t even enough to prevent failing VA executives from receiving huge performance bonuses and glowing performance reviews.

Because these issues are long-standing, systemic, and evidently immune to the current structure of accountability within VA, I believe President Obama’s direct involvement and leadership is required to help us end the culture of complacency that is engulfing the Veterans Health Administration and compromising patient safety.”

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

Still the needs are overwhelming

President Obama made a wide-sweeping executive order in 2009 to deal with some of the issues facing veterans. I think his points were appropriate and necessary.

However, in spite of this order and expenditures of millions of dollars, veterans are still committing suicide at alarming rates. They continue to struggle with re-engagement and family relationships. They have a difficult time finding both housing and employment. Too,  many have complex mental health needs such as PTSD and are vying to find help in a system that is so overwhelmed it cannot possibly deal with the numbers of issues and needs that are facing our veterans and their families.

I recognize these problems are quite difficult to rectify quickly, but I think Representative Miller is correct. We need leadership that is determined, tenacious and compassionate to the needs of our veterans. We also need a system that is personal, professional and easily accessible to them.

I have been pleased to work with the American Veterans Tribute Organization. We are now talking to other organizations as well in order to design and implement a new online system where trained veterans will be able to help veterans.

We are committed to developing a system which engages veterans with the help they need and allows them to network support for each other in the process.

If you want to know more, go to a-v-t.org and you can share the vision with us.

Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network

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