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.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. residents experienced an average of 250,000 hate crimes each year from 2004 to 2015. Becky Monroe, Director of the Stop Hate Project with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights shares a conversation on combating hate by connecting community organizations with established legal and social services resources. Demonstrating community values of strength, unity, and inclusion can be an effective response to hate.
A recent study, funded in part by the Environmental Protection Agency, discovered that exposure to air pollutants is notably influenced by race. Jacqui Patterson, Senior Director of the Environmental and Climate Justice Program for the NAACP discusses the organization’s efforts in providing resources and supporting community leadership by addressing this human and civil rights issue.
According to a 2017 McKinsey & Company report, 50% of current work activities are technically automatable by adapting currently demonstrated technologies. Spencer Overton, President of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies discusses how automation strongly impacts the global workforce for African Americans. A life-learning approach is one way to adapt to the advancement of technology.
A cancer diagnosis can leave patients and caregivers feeling emotionally, physically and economically drained. Marci Schankweiler, Founder of For Pete’s Sake Cancer Respite Foundation discusses the benefits of a holistic approach to improving the quality of life on both sides, while getting a break from cancer.
93% of Littles in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America program believe having a mentor is important to helping them achieve their goals. John Sanchez, Director of Programs for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the National Capital Area shares a discussion on a program geared towards preparing children for the corporate world through mentorship. Beyond School Walls brings children to mentors in the corporate world, introducing them to jobs at an early age, exposing them to new career paths and options for their future. The program offers convenience to mentors by coming to the workplace.
According to a recent report by the Institute for Policy Studies, by 2043, the wealth divide between White families and Latino and Black families will double from about $500,000 in 2013 to over $1 million. Dedrick Asante-Muhammed, Senior Fellow, Racial Wealth Divide at Prosperity Now shares how his organization is addressing this racial economic inequality.
And the Winner is.... Tracy's Kids! Comcast Newsmakers highlights this 10th annual event for Tracy's Kids, an organization devoted to helping young cancer patients and their families to cope with illness through art therapy. For more information, visit Tracy's Kids at www.TracysKids.org.
With commentary from: David Cohen, Jeff Miller, Matt Gerson, Dr. Aziza Shad, Tracy Councill, Ryan Tomoff, Rebecca Wilson, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Lisa Wilson, Devon Still, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Rep. Tom Marino, Sen. Rob Portman.
Elena Russo speaks with Brandon Jones, Chief Executive Officer, Hospice of Charles County, about the care they provide and the options that are available for seniors and their families. Follow on Facebook and Twitter.
For more videos and information about your community, go to ComcastNewsmakers.com.
Recorded on: 11/17/2016.
The institutionalization of children with disabilities is a worldwide problem augmented by reported abuse of children in over 25 countries. Eric Rosenthal of Disability Rights International discusses the issues and efforts toward improvement. Visit Disability Rights International on the web at www.DisabilityRightsIntl.org
According to an internal audit, more than 57,000 veterans have not been scheduled for an initial appointment with the US Department of Veteran Affairs. Rep. Jon Runyan (R-NJ) discusses this delay in healthcare access for our returning servicemen and women. Visit Rep. Runyan on the web at www.Runyan.house.gov