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 LGBTQ fight for equal rights became organized in 1969, after the riots at New York City's Stonewall Inn. LGBTQ civil rights activist and author Mark Segal has been involved in the movement from its beginning. Mark joins Robert Traynham for a candid and intimate discussion about his life, his role in the fight for equality, and the state of LGBTQ rights across America and around the globe. Mark is the publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News. Interview recorded on May 17, 2017.
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.
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. Click here for part 1 of VA Transparency and Priorities.
Dollar Energy Fund CEO Chad Quinn tells host Sheila Hyland that needing help with energy bills is only a temporary situation for most people, and explains how his organization is able to help people get over this bump in the road. Recorded at Xfinity Store in McCandless Crossing, Pittsburgh. dollarenergy.org
Yolanda Vazquez talks with Tracey Walker, Chair, Board of Directors for the Northern Virginia Urban League. They discuss the organization and their mission to the community. They also talk about the 28th Annual Community Service and Scholarship Awards Gala that will take place Friday, April 27th at the McLean Hilton. For more information the Gals and Northern Virginia Urban League, visit their website.