There Is Mostly Good News From The VA In June

Amidst all of the reports from and about the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), most of it in the last ten days is good news.

An excellent article entitled, “He Runs VA. He Soothes Trump. He Is: The Most Interesting Doctor In The World”, discusses the challenges Dr. Shullkin has experienced in his new position. As VA Secretary. After all, he is the first in this position with two attributes that are totally different from all of his predecessors: he’s not a veteran but he is an M.D. Many veterans think this is one good way for the VA to get their house in order.

And the VA announced last week a “Plan to Dispose Of Or Reuse All Its Vacant Buildings in 24 Months” (either by demolishing or setting for reuse). VA Secretary, Dr. David Shulkin said,

“We owe it to the American taxpayer to apply as much of our funding as possible to helping Veterans. “Maintaining vacant buildings, including close to 100 from the Revolutionary War and Civil War, makes no sense and we’re working as quickly as possible to get them out of our inventory.”


No kidding!

Then last week, President Trump signed the “Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017”. This bill will now allow Dr. Shulkin more freedom to reprimand or fire VA employees for failing to carry out the duties of their office. This is not automatic since all VA employees have an opportunity for an Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) for a review of their circumstances. Basically, the grievance procedure has been well established for years.

Veterans of Foreign Wars National Commander Brian Duffy commented,

“Accountability must be a two-way street, and today’s signing now provides VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin the authority to manage his people in a manner expected of all senior executives, public or private. Weeding out the non-performers and those whose personal conduct brings doubt and dishonor upon thousands of dedicated employees is essential to restoring the full faith of veterans in their VA.”

We can only hope that with this new too., Dr. Shulkin will be much more able to get rid of the troublesome personnel who were involved with the VA appointment scandal.

But it’s not all good news, depending on your point-of-view. First, Military Times is reporting Veterans with other-than-honorable discharges will be able to access Veterans Affairs emergency rooms for urgent mental health care starting July 5,

At first, this idea may dismay many veterans, but Dr. Shulkin had a more important reason for this decision: he was recently quoted saying,

We have 20 veterans a day taking their lives; that’s totally unacceptable.”

and 

Suicide prevention is my top clinical priority,” Shulkin said in a statement. “We want these former service members to know there is someplace they can turn if they are facing a mental health emergency, whether it means urgent care at a VA emergency department, a Vet Center or through the Veterans Crisis Line.” 

Actually, saving veterans lives is always a good thing to do.

And finally, veterans should register with non-profit Veteran Tickets Foundation (Vet Tix) to have access to hundreds of free events for them and their families during the remainder of the year. Vet Tix has provided veterans, service members, caregivers and family members of those killed in action with more than three million free tickets to major sports games, concerts, and a diverse mix of other ticketed events

Indeed, they list on their website 2, 073, 294 tickets (and counting) they have already distributed.

To give you an idea of what’s coming up in July, Task & Purpose lists 21 events occurring in just this month alone.

We can only hope good news will continue to occur from and about the VA over the next six months of 2017!

In the mean time, have a great and safe July 4th, 2017 long holiday weekend!

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Chuck Yarling has had many titles in his career thus far: veteran, engineer, math teacher, consultant, technical writer, book author and publisher, and triathlete. He was a member the Military Order of the Purple Heart and Bugles Across America, which plays Taps at military funerals and special events. Spec. 5 Chuck Yarling served with the 26th Combat Engineering Battalion in Vietnam as an awards clerk. His service with the U.S. Army resulted in being awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Army Commendation Medal. You may reach Chuck at [email protected]

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