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45,239 Vacancies at the VA

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Job Vacancy 001


Number of Vacancies

The VA has reported the vacancies as follows:

  • 45,239 overall vacancies at the department, out of a total of 419,353 full-time authorized and budgeted positions. This overall number of vacancies includes: 40,456 vacancies in the Veterans Health Administration, out of a total of 375,953 full-time authorized and budgeted positions
  • 1,978 vacancies in the Veterans Benefits Administration, out of a total of 25,560 full-time authorized and budgeted positions
  • 233 vacancies in the National Cemetery Administration, out of a total of 2,179 full-time authorized and budgeted positions
  • 2,572 vacancies in the department’s Staff Offices, out of a total of 15,661 full-time authorized and budgeted positions

“President Trump has made it clear that achieving the optimal workforce at VA is a top priority as we look to provide the best care and benefits to our nation’s heroes,” according to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “My priority has been to have a clear and accurate picture of our vacancies, and getting this information out publicly is an important step in transparency to Veterans and taxpayers.”

With approximately 374,000 current employees, the VA is the second largest federal organization in government. From the start of fiscal year (FY) 2014 to the end of FY 2017, the VA has had a growth rate of 12.5%. The average annual turnover rate is 9.2%. The VA turnover rates compare favorably with other large cabinet-level agencies, which averaged 11% in FY 2017.

The agency also notes there is a national shortage of healthcare professionals, especially for physicians and nurses and this shortage impacts the VA as well as other health care organizations.

Veterans Health Administration Vacancies

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is the largest administration within VA, accounting for approximately 335,000 of VA’s 374,000 employees. VHA turnover rates compare favorably with the healthcare industry, including for those occupations identified as mission critical. In FY 2017, VHA’s annual turnover rate for full-time and part-time employees was 9.1%, compared to the healthcare industry turnover rate of 20-30%.

Vacancies are current unencumbered positions due to turnover and new positions planned anticipated growth in services. VHA has approximately 40,000 vacancies, which is consistent with the historical annual 9% turnover rate and a 2-3% growth rate.

Staffing plans consider normal rates of workforce turnover, retirement, and growth, and the expectation that there will always be vacant positions. Each year, VHA hires more employees than it loses to replace turnover and keep up with the growth in demand for services.

The agency emphasizes that the best indicators of adequate staffing levels include Veteran access to care and health care outcomes and not the number of vacant positions.

In support of its job performance, the agency cited the following:

  • The VA now provides same-day services for care needs right away at all primary care and mental health clinics.
  • In FY18 to date, 21% of all appointments have been completed the same day that the appointment was requested.
  • The average time to complete an urgent referral to a specialist has decreased from 19.3 days in FY14 to 3.2 days in FY17 and 2.0 days in FY18. The performance is continuing to improve and was down to 1.3 days in July 2018.
  • VA completed 95% of follow-up appointments no later than the provider recommended date for time sensitive appointments in FY to date.
  • According to a recent RAND Corp. study, Veterans receive the same or better care at VA medical centers as patients at non-VA hospitals.
  • For inpatient care specifically, VA hospitals performed on average the same or significantly better than non-VA hospitals on 21 of 26 measures.
  • VA performed significantly better than commercial and Medicaid Health Maintenance Organizations on 28 of 30 measures, with no difference on the other two.
  • Although there was variation in performance across VA, the variation was even wider among non-VA hospitals.


#veterans #military #employment #jobvacancies

Google volunteers and Veterans meet at Palo Alto VA to improve job seeking skills

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Google Volunteers


More than 40 Veterans attended a unique event in June as a large team of recruiters from Google descended upon the VA Palo Alto’s Menlo Park campus to help share their knowledge and train Veterans in critical job seeking skills.

The first-of-its-kind Google and Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) Veterans’ Employment Readiness Fair brought together these two groups at the Menlo Park Welcome Center for a day of workshops and networking. The event, organized by the CWT, brought in 32 Google recruiters as part of the annual Google Serve program, under which employees spend the month of June volunteering in their communities.

Veterans received one-on-one guidance on an array of job search skills, from using online job boards and LinkedIn to resume writing and interview skills. They also got the chance to meet with representatives from Cushman Wakefield and Bon Appetit, who work with Google and shared insight into their hiring processes.

Tamar Woodbury, the Google lead recruiter who organized the event on their side, explained that Google Serve has given her the opportunity to work with diverse groups of people with noble missions over the years. This year’s event also happened to give her another unique opportunity: to work with her mother, CWT’s Development and Community Relations Coordinator, Dr. Hedva Porat.

“It’s really rewarding and humbling,” Woodbury said of the day’s work, as well as of her past volunteer experiences. “It feels great that we can use our skills and knowledge to help somebody else.”

Veteran Allen Wright, who has been working with CWT’s Transitional Work Program, said the event provided him a great opportunity to learn how to highlight his skills in a resume, or as he calls it, “to get to the meat on the bone.”

“She showed me how to highlight my strengths from previous experiences and how to translate my skills,” he said of the recruiter he worked with. “She gave me some ideas on how to sell myself.”

The event started with lunch and an opportunity for Veterans and Googlers to mingle and network and then staff from CWT presented the program and its mission.

To better illustrate the importance of CWT’s work, Veterans Abraham Hart and Thomas Gonzales each stood to tell their stories to the Googlers and Veterans, highlighting the changes that work has brought to their lives. Both Hart and Gonzales expressed how their investment in the program has enriched their lives and brought them a sense of dignity and self-worth as they strive toward their personal goals.

Google employee Karen Novaes, who was in town from Sao Paulo, Brazil for a one-week company training, said hearing their stories and those of the other Veterans was a rare and moving experience.

“It was a great opportunity to talk with people who don’t work in tech,” she said. “These are not people we are around every day at Google. People on my team are very open so it’s great to share this opportunity to talk.”

Another Veteran who attended the event, Michelle Scoggins, said that the recruiters were very helpful in providing insightful critiques of her resume. “We went over my resume format and details and discussed my background and my interests,” she said, happily adding that she received a lot of positive feedback on her resume and skillset.

Scoggins said she felt the event provided a great variety of assistance for the different types of job seekers present.

“It was balanced enough to give tips for people with experience who had been out of work for a while, as well as those with less experience,” she said. “The presentation was well thought-out. It was concise and allowed more time for the interactive part.”

Woodbury agreed that the event felt like a success, adding that it leaves the door open for potential future collaboration between Google and Veterans.

“A lot of people would like to see this become a yearly event,” she said.


Veterans want autonomy in health care choices

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Oscar Johnson VA


In the last two years, following calls from almost 4 million Veterans across the U.S., the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act was passed, the secretary of Veterans Affairs has been replaced and the Mission Act was signed to enable Veterans to have choice in their health care. All happened with bipartisan support and are intended to better the lives of former service members.

But not so fast. The irony is that while the president and Congress are committed to accomplishing a new vision for Veterans, the practical reality is that VA staff members have not embraced the changes. VA staff seem to be reticent to the change that affords Veterans a choice in their health care. Dr. Richard Stone, head of the Veterans Health Administration, stated that 90 percent of Veterans choose to stay with the VA rather than to utilize community care. However, it is not a choice when, to date, the only consistency in the responses from the VA have been, “No,” “Can’t” or “Won’t.”

The VA must be accountable to Veterans for rapid, successful treatment, achievable through the offering of more innovative, better treatment options. Inherent in that accountability is the understanding that with over 9 million Veterans enrolled in the VA system, the VA’s medical professionals and social workers struggle to support 9 million health care cases. And those numbers increase every year.

For diseases that demand innovative care, such as substance use disorder, the VA should look at the programs they have already championed and continue to extend similar support to any Veteran who recognizes their addiction and seeks help. Too often, a Veteran’s life hangs in the balance. A VA statement of support for Veteran’s health care outside of the VA can help reduce some of the very sad and all-too-common Veteran suicides, overdoses, incidents of depression and rash decisions in VA parking lots.

Specifically, the Mission Act enshrines the Choice Program and broadens Veterans’ access to the latest innovative health care for diseases like substance use disorder, that the VA admittedly struggles to provide. The dramatic increases in the abuse of opioids and other illegal narcotics exasperates this crisis.

Unnecessarily and unfortunately, Veteran health care options outside of the VA are rarely embraced by the VA employee body or mid-level management, thereby limiting Veterans’ health care choices and restricting access to the latest treatment options. This limitation stifles collaboration, hinders successful outcomes for Veterans, and leads to increased health care costs.

Experiencing 20 suicides daily, the Veteran community suffers from depression, substance use and a lack of one-on-one interaction with medical professionals and social workers to assist with these challenges. The health care choices enabled by the Mission Act include not simply an outsourcing of medical services, but also outsourcing ongoing support and treatment provided by VA-approved, private sector entities.

In a statement, the secretary of the VA said, “Most Americans can already choose the health care providers that they trust, and President Trump promised that Veterans would be able to do the same.” Secretary Robert Wilkie’s comments are consistent with the intent of the Mission Act and the Choice Program. However, Veterans who request community care are routinely denied their right to “choice” regarding their health care.

Simply put, the VA’s substance use disorder treatment protocol and its’ Veteran patients would benefit by engaging community providers, as was intended by the Mission Act and Choice Program. Yet, too many VA case managers are staunchly opposed to any treatment program provided by external entities, despite VA limitations. In fact, if the VA provides a specific form of health care, the prevailing VA guidance seems to be that it should ONLY be provided directly from the VA without considering a Veteran’s right to choose a health care option.

Americans who are competent enough to serve our country are certainly competent enough to make their own health care choices.


2019 National Vietnam War Veterans Day

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Natl VN War Vets Day


On behalf of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Veterans we are deeply honored to serve, I want to say thank you to our country’s more than six-and-a-half million living Vietnam Veterans and their families.

Two years ago, President Trump signed the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act into law. That Act designates every March 29th as National Vietnam War Veterans Day. It was March 29th, 1973, when the last of our combat troops left Vietnam.

It was on that day that the last American prisoners of war held in North Vietnam came home.

Vietnam War Veterans Day is part of our nation’s ongoing commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.

In support, VA and more than 10,000 local, state, and national organizations join the Department of Defense as Commemorative Partners.

We honor the nine million American men and women who served on active duty from November 1st, 1955, to May 7th, 1975. We solemnly remember more than 58,000 whose names are etched into the Vietnam Memorial’s polished black granite—constant reminders of the price of freedom.

Take advantage of the opportunities this commemoration encourages and show your gratitude to this noble generation of American service members.

Say, Thank you.

And welcome them home.

May God bless all of you, your families, and this great Nation.


Veteran volunteers provide support to Veteran patients

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Interim Healthcare


LUBBOCK, Texas - Interim Healthcare values their Veteran volunteers who are able to assist Veteran patients providing them with a lasting peace for them and their families.

"It hits you right in the heart to see the impact you have on the patients," said volunteer program manager for Interim Healthcare, Mandy Myers.

She said it's touching seeing a patient and Veteran volunteer creating that one-of-a-kind bond.

"There's a lot of times that some of our volunteers that are new are placed with a patient for the first time, they get a little teary eyed when they have that moment," saying there are times when patients don't interact with anyone, that is until a fellow Veteran is paired with them.

"It could be that the patient is nonverbal and they're not really interacting with anybody, but then you come in and they just start talking."

Chaplain and bereavement coordinator, Josh Reglin says its because those Veterans know they're talking to someone who understands.

"They know that they can talk to somebody that has been where they've been situationally," he said, "Somebody that has experience difficulties in a theater of war or battle."

Reglin and Myers work hand in hand to provide their Veteran patients with the resources they need.

"We've listened to lots of stories before of what these men and women have gone through," he said. with many of those stories coming as the patients open up.

"They feel more comfortable about talking about it because they are talking Veteran to Veteran and sometimes the family members are there to listen to the stories that they've never heard before," said Myers, "They can see that it's ok for that family member to share those stories and that they feel ok with it, when before they have not felt ok or felt ready to share that."

A testament of the trust created going beyond the initial bond.

"I think theres even a connection between the family and the volunteer because they see how much the relationship can form between the patient and volunteer," said Reglin, "I think it helps them as well because they know that thats an avenue of peace of sorts for their loved one."

Click here if you are a Veteran who wants to become a volunteer with Interim Healthcare.


Stitt’s Veterans secretary pick accused of underpaying Veterans

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Kevin Stitt


Gov. Kevin Stitt’s pick to becomes Oklahoma’s next secretary of veterans affairs and the military is facing accusations that his consulting company violated federal labor laws by underpaying veterans.

Federal court filings show that 15 former workers have sued Tulsa-based Check-6 along with its founder and CEO Brian Brurud, whom Stitt appointed to the unpaid cabinet position in February. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in New Orleans. One of the plaintiffs lives in Louisiana, and the company has an office in the state.

Check-6, founded in 2007, provides consulting services to high-risk industries, including offshore oil drilling operations across the world. It contracts almost exclusively with armed-service veterans, who act as “coaches,” providing safety training and other services.

Fifteen of those coaches allege that the company “showed reckless disregard” of the law by classifying the coaches as consultants instead of employees in an effort to avoid paying them overtime, court filings show.

The plaintiffs contend they lost more than $670,000 or an average of $44,790 per person, between March 7, 2013, and Dec. 31, 2016.

“Defendants scheduled plaintiffs to work twelve-hour shifts on days they worked, but they often ended up working longer,” lawyers for the veterans wrote in a brief. “Despite sometimes working over 84 hours in a workweek, Plaintiffs did not receive overtime pay under defendants’ day rate plan and did not receive any guaranteed amount for weeks they worked.”

The plaintiffs argue that Brurud, one of the three named defendants, was among those in charge of the coaches’ pay and that he is individually liable, along with Check-6.

Neither Brurud, Check-6 nor their attorneys responded to requests for comment.

In court filings, Check-6 has repeatedly denied that its coaches should be covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which requires overtime pay for employees. The company says the coaches were not employees but instead were independent contractors who are not covered by FLSA.

The defendants say in court records that the Act was designed to “protect unskilled laborers and minimum wage-earners, not highly paid, highly skilled consultants like the plaintiffs here.”

The filing goes on to state that the coaches were well paid, earning a flat rate of $1,000 per day, and were able to work side businesses while being a Check-6 coach.

“Overall, Check-6 provides well for Coaches through great pay and exceptional flexibility,” lawyers for the company wrote in a Feb. 2 filing. “Here, Coaches clearly are not mistreated and can protect themselves even if they were.”

The legal challenge was originally filed as a class-action lawsuit in 2016. But a federal judge decertified the class action last year, leading each of the 15 former coaches to file separate lawsuits. Those cases are ongoing.

It’s unclear whether the lawsuit will go to trial. In a Feb. 13 filing, attorneys requested a 30-day delay to pursue a “global settlement” involving all 15 former coaches.

The allegations against the firm come as Brurud, who served 21 years as a fighter pilot for the Navy and Air National Guard, is scheduled to face an Oklahoma Senate confirmation vote later this session.

The secretary of veterans affairs and the military is charged with advising the governor on veterans and military issues and providing oversight of the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs.

Stitt spokeswoman Donelle Harder said the governor is aware of the lawsuit and has been told, that any “remaining issues will be coming to a quick conclusion” since it no longer has class-action status.

She gave no indication that the lawsuit would threaten Brurud’s confirmation or his role as a cabinet secretary.

“Brian Brurud formed Check-6 with the mission to ensure highly skilled veterans are well compensated for the unique and valuable talents garnered from their time in the military,” Harder said. “Governor Stitt selected Brian Brurud, not only because he is a veteran who served 21 years in the U.S. Navy and Air National Guard, but also because he built an American success story over the past 10 years that has paid hundreds of veterans more than $100 million for their skilled and professional consulting work.”

Sen. J.J. Dossett, D-Owasso said he hopes to learn more about the accusations contained in the lawsuits before he and the Senate’s other eight Democrats cast their votes.

“Right now they are still only accusations and you won’t to hear the whole situation before deciding anything,” said Dossett, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Oklahoma Air National Guard. “If there is anything that comes up, it our duty to look at it.”


How VA Medical Centers Can Help You

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VA Options


Helpful Things to Know About Your VA Medical Center

Today’s blog focuses on when you need Someone, Something, or Some Money to help you at home.

Although we share the experience of Serving Our Country, each of us Veterans has our own very unique and individual story. Today’s chapter in that story may, for many Veterans, include physical and/or mental health challenges that were never a struggle in the past; tasks that used to be accomplished with ease may be much harder or next-to-impossible to do today. For a lot of Veterans pushing through and making it happen anyway, all the while never asking for help, is a way of life.

You might say: “Who, me? Need help? No…not me. I got this.”

(And then, the reality check, behind the closed-door at home we really could use a helping hand).

  • “It takes me at least fifteen minutes to get out of bed; and I gotta hold onto everything around me.”
  • “Forget it…i just won’t wear socks today.”
  • “I don’t care I can’t remember the last time I showered. I’ll do it when I’m up to it.”

Michele L. Sullivan, one of the 50 most powerful women in philanthropy once said “Asking for help is a strength, not a weakness. We all need help throughout our lives.”

If your days are filled with physical and/or mental health struggles, please know that your VA Medical Center does have options to help at home. Options that many Veterans may not know are out there. This blog entry will hopefully provide some basic, general guidance.

Curious? Here’s How VA Medical Centers Differ

First, it’s important to note that each VA Medical Center (VAMC) operates somewhat differently than another VA Medical Center. You might be wondering “Eh? But It’s just one VA though, right?“. The answer is, well, yes, but, consider this: like each school in one school district, each VAMC is guided by its own leader (Director). Each Medical Center Director has some autonomy about how the VAMC under their direction will carry-out its mission (within the regulations of the Veterans Administration, of course).

Also, each Medical Center has its own unique limitations. For example, some limitations may be based on what support services are available in the VAMC’s public community/region (like how many home health agencies exist in a specific area to be able to contract with that local VAMC for providing care for Veterans).

Even if we think that all of our VAMC’s should be the same and do everything the same way, the simple fact is, they aren’t and they don’t.

I say this to make the point that not every option for services is available at every VA Medical Center, and the options that ARE available may look different in one area than they do in another area. Don’t let that stop you, however, from seeking the help that you think may be the best for YOU.

What Options for Help At Home Does the VA Offer?

Here is a list along with a brief description of some possible options that your VA Medical Center might be able to provide YOU in order to bring Someone, Something, or Some Money to help YOU at home!

Home Health Aide Program (and, if eligible, possibly homemaker)

If you need assistance with some activities of daily living (ADLs), like bathing, getting dressed, toileting, eating, and mobility, you would apply with your Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT) social worker. If approved, you would have a CNA come to your home a specified number of hours each week to assist. Also, If approved and you live alone, you may be eligible for someone to assist with homemaking tasks (like light-housework, meal prep, etc.)

Veteran Directed Program

Again, the application would be with your PACT. If service-connected eligible, and approved for this program, you would be provided an allotted amount of money and linked to a coordinator, to plan, hire, and pay the support services that you may require in order to remain in your own residence safely and sustainably.

DME – Durable Medical Equipment

Your Primary Care Physician (PCP) and PACT may assist you in securing a range of devices that may assist with safety, mobility, and accessibility at home. For example, a lift chair or over-bed lift. You would want to identify your specific obstacle and ask for a device that would assist.

Prosthetics devices

Much like DME, and sometimes one-in-the-same, but these might include items like a cane, a walker, a manual wheelchair, a scooter, or an electric wheelchair. A shower chair or safety grab-bars to protect from falls.

HISA Grant

Home Improvement and Structural Alterations may be what is needed to keep a Veteran in their own residence safely and sustainably. This may include widening doorways, adding ramps, making alterations to bathroom facilities, etc. A Veteran’s PCP would begin this HISA referral with their order, as needed. The maximum cost expenditure allotment available to a Veteran for alterations to their residence differs depending on if a Veteran’s disabilities are service-connected or not service-connected. If service-connected, could be eligible possibly for SHA or SAH: Special Housing Adaptation Grant or Specially Adapted Housing Grant

Caregiver Program

This option used to be available to only post-9/11 Veterans injured or ill due to their service. It is still an option for these Veterans, but recent legislation may be opening this program to all era Veterans as well. In this program, the VA acknowledges that many Veterans already have a caregiver. An application which may be found online) would be required to be submitted. If approved, a Veteran’s Caregiver may be paid and provided support resources.

Aid and Attendance

This is also known as “House-bound.” There is a VA application that You would need to have your treating Physician complete. If approved, this would provide compensation to a Veteran to help the Veteran pay for caregiving, including possibly a non-professional caregiver family, friend, etc.) The more need a Veteran has for assistance with daily living, the higher the probability of approval for this compensation.

Home-Based Primary Care

There are times when (for various reasons) a Veteran’s health-care would be most beneficial to be provided to the Veteran in the Veteran’s own residence instead of at a VAMC, community-based outpatient clinic (CBOC), or other medical facilities. If this applies, a Veteran may wish to talk to their PCP about the option of being transferred to a Home-Based Primary Care Team that will come and care for the Veteran at home.

The programs, items, and options listed above are not the only things available from your VAMC, but they are things included in the conversation about“Helping me at Home.”

It is generally health-care professionals’ goal to do what can be done to keep a Veteran in their own home environment, safely and sustainably but, if staying at home is not working, or not safe;If more assistance or supervision is needed than what can be offered at home; in the next blog entry for “Helpful Stuff to Know About Your VA Medical Center,” we’ll address ideas and options specific to Veterans if and when our Veterans may want or need to consider care outside of home.


86-Year-Old Korean War Vet on a Mission To Find Purple Heart Lost 6 Decades Ago

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Purple Heart 005


Donald Herman Voigt is 86. He earned a Purple Heart for his service in the Korean War. Not long after he received it, however, it was either lost or stolen.

Now, he’s asking for help to find it before he goes fully blind.

According to Fox News, Voigt was serving in South Korea when he was wounded in combat, with severe injuries to his arm.

The soldier was still in sickbay when he received the Purple Heart in 1953, just around the time the cease-fire in the war was about to be signed. Almost immediately, the award went missing.

“I only had it for 10 or 15 minutes,” Voigt said. “So I’m not used to having it anyway. But it would be nice.”

Val Hobson, a friend of the Voigt family who’s been “working feverishly” to help find the medal, contacted Fox News about it.

“Having the rare distinction of being awarded the Purple Heart surely categorizes him as a man among men who put his life on the line without any hesitation,” Hobson said in a statement to Fox.

“And though he is amazingly humble and always minimizes his efforts, he deserves to have this medal and all the recognition and praise that goes with this accomplishment.”

Voigt originally joined the National Guard in 1952 and then, on the orders of President Harry Truman, called up to the Army. He served with the 7th Infantry Division, 31st Regiment Infantry, Love Company until November of 1953, according to Fox.

He received an honorable discharge at the rank of corporal.

Hobson relayed Voigt’s memories of his time in the service to Fox.

“Well, I was just a kid at the time and I wasn’t sure why I received the award as I was doing what I was sent and trained to do,” Voigt said. “It happened so fast — I was injured by shrapnel, sent to sickbay and given the Purple Heart.

“Then — it was gone. I just thought I’d never get it back again so to have it would be pretty wonderful as I didn’t really realize at the time just how much it meant.”

The Apache Junction, Arizona, resident is looking for it back. And he is hoping for help from both of the state’s senators — Republican Martha McSally and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema — as well as Rep. Paul Gosar.

It’s a race against time, though. In addition to Voigt’s age, he’s also losing his sight due to macular degeneration.

Voigt, Hobson said in a statement to Fox, is “a very special person. Humble to a fault, but kind, caring, loving and generous. Someone who never had an enemy.”


Local Veterans continue push for healthcare

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Veterans Push


If you drive through downtown Mountain Home midday Thursday, you may notice a group of people gathered at the Mountain Home Plaza 2000. A series of protests has been organized over the lack of availability when it comes to local healthcare options for Veterans in the Twin Lakes Area.

Near the end of January, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced new standards for access to care as part of the implementation of the Mission Act of 2018. The changes include appointment wait-time standards of 20 days and a 30-minute average drive time standard for primary care, mental health care and non-institutional extended care services. Other changes are appointment wait-time standards of 28 days and a one-hour drive time standard for specialty care from the date of request. Veterans unable to access care within those standards would be able to choose between eligible community providers and care at a Veterans Administration medical facility.

Ronnie Young serves as the commander for the Ozark VFW Post 3246, but separately, he has been one of the organizers of the local protests. He says President Donald Trump passed the Mission Act since the Veterans Choice Program was scheduled to expire last year.

Young says the protests started in part because there are several Veterans in the area without access to quality healthcare without spending nearly a third of the day in a van making a round trip to Little Rock for a medical appointment that might not even last a half hour.

Young says the protests have resulted in some progress. Every other week, an official from the VA comes to Mountain Home to visit with local Veterans, and there were some positive results as recent as last week.

In the meantime, Young says protests will continue at the Mountain Home Plaza 2000 every Thursday from 11:00 until 1:00, and they are going to branch out farther. He expects to have protesters near the Community-Based Outpatient Clinic at the Twin Lakes Plaza and later extend to the local offices of U.S. Representative Rick Crawford and U.S. Senator John Boozman.

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