VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD joins Robert Traynham to discuss improvements underway for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Improving transparency, customer service and continuity for veterans is a top priority along with improving wait times for health care and VA employee accountability. This discussion continues in part 2 of VA Transparency and Priorities.
Robert Traynham: The US Department of Veteran's Affairs provides healthcare services, education programs, and vocational rehabilitation employment services to more than nine million veterans each year. Hello, everyone, and welcome to Comcast Newsmakers, I'm Robert Traynham. Dr. David Shulkin, the United States Secretary of Veteran's Affairs, joins me to discuss some top priorities in all the agencies today. Secretary Shulkin, welcome to the program.
David Shulkin: Thank you, glad to be here.
Robert Traynham: Let's talk about the elephant in the room, and that really is the wait times that many veterans are experiencing across [00:00:30] the country.
David Shulkin: The first thing that we've done is we focused on those veterans who have clinically urgent problems, to make sure that those who can't afford to wait for care are getting care at the right time. We've established same day services across every one of our major VA medical centers for primary care and mental health, so people can get access on the day that we need it. The second thing that we've done is, we've made sure that we're making more appointments available, both in the VA, but also out in the community. [00:01:00] Now if people are waiting for care, we're getting them out to the private sector. The final thing that we've done is, we've published our wait times for everybody to see. They can see where the wait times are good and where they still need to be improved. We're the only health system in the country who has done that.
Robert Traynham: Why do you think, Mr. Secretary, it's taken your action, your leadership, your vision to be implemented for this stuff actually to materialize I guess what my question really is, is how did we get here How did we get into this situation
David Shulkin: I think, unfortunately, [00:01:30] we've learned the lesson time and time again that when we send our young men and women off to war or conflict, that we don't do an adequate job of planning for their needs when they come back home. We're always playing a little bit of catch up. I think were now really beginning to understand that the day that we commit these men and women to going off to defend their country, we have to be prepared to commit to them for life, and to make sure that we prepare for their needs when we come [00:02:00] back home.
Robert Traynham: I want to transition to the staff. I'm not sure how many tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people that work in your department, but it appears that there was a little bit of, I don't know what the right word would be, not laziness, but lack of accountability on many different levels. How have you addressed this issue
David Shulkin: First of all, the vast majority of the men and women who serve in the VA are dedicated patriotic individuals who are doing it for the right reason, because they believe in the mission of caring for veterans. [00:02:30] In any organization, you have some that have lost their way, that don't share that commitment. The VA had been slow in making sure that those individuals were accountable, were identified and actually asked to leave the VA. We've really begun to tackle that, and we now have a new law, the Accountability Law, that allows me as Secretary to be able to remove people from their jobs if they've really deviated from accepted professional behaviors.
The Asian American Pacific Islander community makes up six percent of the U.S. population, but is growing more than four times as rapidly as the total U.S. population. Asians are the largest group of immigrants to enter the U.S. as immigrants. A conversation with Janelle Wong, Senior Researcher at AAPI Data about the fastest-growing but one of the understudied racial groups in the United States.
The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games will be hosted this summer in Seattle, with more than 4,000 athletes and coaches representing 50 states and the District of Columbia. Jason Schriml of the Special Olympics USA Games discussed the impact the games and this organization that highlights athletes with intellectual disabilities through highly competitive sports, uplifting experiences, and demonstrating inclusion for all.
Preparations are underway for the 2020 United States Census. A fair and accurate count of all communities is of major importance, as data gathered is used to determine federal funding, congressional representation and more. For some populations, including Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, the process can be of concern due to immigration status, language barriers and fear of providing personal information. John Yang, President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC joins Robert Traynham to discuss the importance of an accurate count, especially for the AAPI population in America.
Filipino Americans make up the third largest subgroup of Asian Americans today, with millennials comprising nearly a quarter of this population. And while there about 4 million Filipino and Filipino Americans living in the U.S today, this population is underrepresented in political and leadership roles. Brendan Flores, National Chairman of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations joins Robert Traynam to discuss the welfare and well-being of Filipino Americans and efforts to strengthen the personal and professional development of young Filipino Americans.
According to the Pew Research Center, the U.S. Asian population increased 72 percent between 2000 and 2015, resulting in the fastest growth rate of any major racial or ethnic group. And as this population continues to grow, there remains a lack of involvement in politics and corporate leadership positions. Kendall Kosai, Deputy Director at OCA National discussed programs designed to help high school students explore their identity, and encourage them to become future community leaders.
Korean Americans, like many other Asian Americans, are recent immigrants to the United States, emigrating in large numbers after 1965. As first and second generation Americans, many still have close ties with their homeland, where family and friends still reside. A discussion with Sam Yoon, Executive Director of the Council of Korean Americans on the Korean American community, including their ties to both North and South Korea.
Yolanda Vazquez speaks with Jessica Normington, Executive Director of the Pikesville Chamber of Commerce. The Pikesville Chamber just celebrated 40 years and their group consists of about 350 members representing a large array of businesses. This year marks their 7th annual event, The “Taste of Pikesville”, which will take place at The Suburban Club on March 21st.
Yolanda Vazquez talks with Steve Beck, President and Executive Director, Patriot Point Foundation. They discuss how Patriot Point provides a relaxing and safe environment to enjoy outdoor recreational activities for our nation's wounded, ill and injured service members and their families.
Yolanda Vazquez talks with Sylvia Boyle, Co-Founder with Fit Kids Stage. They discuss Fit Kids Stage passion for fitness in the youth of today through creative fitness. Follow Fit Kids Stage on Twitter. Recorded 7/25/17.
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Host Jill Horner talks with Alex Halper, Govt Affairs Dir., PA Chamber of Business & Industry, about proposed legislation that addresses issues with prescription medications and workers compensation, including costs and overuse. www.pachamber.org