Saturday, November 22, 2014

#DearVA Do You Think We Could Talk a Minute?

Dear ‪#‎VA‬ or even ‪#‎NewVA‬

Do you think we could talk for a minute? I mean, I think I've been pretty patient and fair through the years. I've never screamed at anyone despite my endless frustration or the days I've spent literally an entire workday on hold or being shuffled around from one department to another. 

I've only cried in your hospital 2 or 3 times and just once in the actual offices. 

It's been 18 years. That has to count for something. I hope I've got your attention. 

I want to talk about how in the new plans there is almost NO mention of the critical role that families and caregivers play in ensuring that our nations heroes receive the best possible care.

Without including the feedback, involvement and frankly the insight of those closest to, those who love and care for our vets on a daily basis these initiatives honestly are a huge concern to me. 

Invisible injuries such as PTSD and TBI, don't just impact our veterans, but the entire family as well. Let me say that again. PTSD is an issue for the WHOLE family. It is irrational to expect that progress will continue to be made without the inclusion of caregivers and family members.

If you are looking to ensure the best possible care , you need to make sure that VA staff and clinicians are trained and encouraged to seek the input of caregivers, this invaluable and often lifesaving information are puzzle pieces that our Vets often leave out of their history, not intentionally but because they don't see it, they don't remember it, they didn't realize the extent of it. I've had clinicians act like something was a minor incident until I explained what had happened with a clear head to them.... and then they sat there stunned and said "But that's not what it said in the chart"

The charts are incomplete, they are inaccurate and sometimes they are filled with fallacies. Sometimes those are because of overwork, under staffing or miscommunication, and sometimes they are the result of past laziness or incompetence on someone's part.

Those that live with this every day, those that have learned to function in the version of normal we call our lives must be heard if you want to be successful. 

The only mention of "families" in the Road to Veterans Day from Secretary McDonald is when the VA motto (and quote from President Lincoln) is used.

The "MyVA" work groups and input sessions that are celebrated as the way the new VA is being structured to better serve Veterans gives no mention of seeking insight from caregivers.

How is this going to help anyone? I can tell you that without the advocacy of their families and caregivers, many of our nations heros slip through the cracks. There is a reason the suicide rate is so high, there is a reason the homelessness rate is so high. 

When they can't advocate for themselves... who do you think does it?

Let's forge the new path together #VA. Let's make sure, as a partnership, that as the VA moves forward it plans to recognize that providing top quality care to those that have served us so honorably will only be possible if doctors, nurses, staff, all medical personnel are really aware of the key role that family members play in the care process.



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