Monday, February 6, 2012

Veteran's Voice of America: Funding Cuts for Veterans still Unknown

Veteran's Voice of America: Funding Cuts for Veterans still Unknown: WASHINGTON – Since November, members of the House Veterans Affairs Committee have been pushing administration officials to clarify whether...

Funding Cuts for Veterans still Unknown


WASHINGTON – Since November, members of the House Veterans Affairs Committee have been pushing administration officials to clarify whether veterans programs could be trimmed as part of more than $500 billion in defense funding cuts mandated under the sequestration mechanism initiated by the failure of the congressional debt reduction panel last fall.
Last week, the head of the veterans committee said he’s frustrated he still doesn’t have an answer for advocates worried about how benefits and service may be hurt.
In a letter to the White House, Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., said that veterans “deserve to understand the ramifications if sequestration is imposed.” He notes that lawmakers still hope to avoid the defense cuts altogether, but still need answers on what could possibly be cut if that goal isn’t met.
In an interview with Stars and Stripes last month, Miller said he and other congressional leaders believe that the sequestration cuts to defense programs do not include any veterans programs, since lawmakers had no intention to include them when they wrote the original legislation. But, he added, the Office of Management and Budget has final say on that interpretation of the law, and so far officials there have offered no answers.
Also last week, Miller introduced the Protect VA Healthcare Act, which would specify that those defense cuts would not have any impact on veterans’ medical care. He said the legislation is necessary because of the continued ambiguity surrounding how the cuts will be implemented.
Last week, a group of Republican senators including John McCain, R-Ariz., unveiled legislation to avoid the potentially crippling defense cuts by freezing federal employees’ pay and laying off thousands of government employees. Democrats have already dismissed the proposal as unworkable.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Veteran's Voice of America: Veterans Administration Watch...How do Vets really...

Veteran's Voice of America: Veterans Administration Watch...How do Vets really...: By Steven Masone I had a discussion today with a Congressman's Veterans Liaison person concerning a personal bad experience which I have ...

Veterans Administration Watch: How do Vets really rate the V.A?


By Steven Masone

I had a discussion with a Congressman's Veterans Liaison person concerning a personal bad experience which I have filed a grievance over. While I realize most veterans medical care except for the untimely waiting periods many in urban areas must wait for is a major gripe, most would give passing marks.

Those marks though are among the majority of veterans whose medical needs and care are not considered acute. But for a sizable sub-section of the population of veterans who have declining health issues including mental health and service connected unrated maladies that special testing is seemingly purposely recommended against and ignored, the happy camper club diminishes greatly.

The congressional aid pointed out the in-house surveys as being valid because in some cases it seems vets "tell it like it is." I recommended that Veterans Rights groups may just come up with different survey results if  those surveyed had the right questions asked in the right way... and knowing the data was going to an advocate organization that could testify before congressional committees and petition for redress, and gaining   media attention also. Those results would provide real-time data utilized for more quality service to veterans.

I had the sense by this liaison's answers, that he perceived all was well in paradise and I was talking out of school and out of my league. That's the attitude that we veterans get a little peeved over. It's as if we have to present our civilian credentials concerning policy and legislative experience, political activism battles etc...hello?...many of us can run entire divisional size battle campaigns, and we no longer have to drink the
"top brass kool-aid"... Don't spin us!

I know for a fact that the in-house survey questions can get the answers they want by how the questions are asked in the multiple choice format mostly used. That has been my field of study and business for 35 years.

I also was a lobbyist with successful legislation in California enacted by my lobby efforts. So of course I inserted some statements I thought would get him a little more interested in my proposed guideline direction I see is needed and wanted. But to no avail...this was a phone call/interview and I suspect as he takes upset veteran calls regularly (he admitted as much) his defenses were up.

If we were to include the "claims process" with medical concerns in survey tabulation data, failing marks would prevail. Just because 70% of VA services and treatment of Veterans get passing grades does not a great V.A make! As soldiers, any thing in the mid to low 80's was less than acceptable.

Once again, the quality of the V.A. staff and hiring needs to notch it up. We don't want foreign medical staff that can't get jobs in the civilian market nor washed out rejects from the domestic home field either. But what do we know?

Their surveys are geared to get favorable return data. Just like polling questions taken by paid pollsters, they give them what they want to spin to the public. No more spin thank you.

How about just one question: Do you feel The V.A. overall  can improve at least 55% if they hired more qualified personnel, veterans with military service records with impeccable service ratings?    Yes  or   No


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