American Legion DC HOT ISSUES Jan 8th 2014

The American Legion Washington DC Office
HOT ISSUES
Wednesday, January 8 2014
 
ACTIONS –
 
  • Staff met with the International Ultraviolet Association (IUVA), to discuss the IUVA proposal to the National Science Foundation for an advanced technical education program to train veterans, community college students, and water utility technicians in emerging ultraviolet technologies that disinfect drinking water and wastewater.  Nearly a third of water utility workers are eligible to retire by 2015; increasing demand for trained, licensed technicians.  To meet program goals that will recruit, train and employ veterans, IUVA must closely examine state licensing and certification policy, per state for water utility and ultraviolet technicians.  In fact, the project has prompted discussion about state versus national certifications that can benefit technicians, and standardize industry practices. This conversation also covered the possibility for a working relationship between our two organizations to work on this project at the national, state, and local levels to assist transitioning service members and veterans acquire these types of credentials.
 
  • Staff attended the Virginia Employment Commission's (VEC) Women Veteran's Conference hosted by Booze Allen Hamilton in Mclean, Virginia.  The Conference opened with speakers from the Virginia Employment commission and the US Department of Labor (DOL).  Numerous breakout session were to follow including resume workshops, layoff and career change seminar, mentorship panel and networking sessions.  DOL and VEC will continue to host more events like this in the future to highlight their new focus on the high women veteran unemployment and underemployment figures.  With 15 percent of all Service members separating from service being women, this is high in priority for DOL and the State Workforce Agencies.
 
  • Staff is meeting with staff of the House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations to discuss the investigation surrounding VA and a possible lack of oversight regarding medical implants.
 
  • Staff will meet with Wyoming Senator John Barasso's office to discuss the current landscape of veterans unemployment and where The American Legion fits in to the picture in terms of programs and services.  The parties will also discuss The American Legion's interests in veterans' employment and small business matters.
 
  • Staff will be meeting with senior leadership of Sikorsky Aircraft Corp, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and American Legion Department of Connecticut leadership, to discuss military veteran credentialing, employment, military training, American Legion support from a national, state, and local level, possible recruitment of Sikorsky's 4,000 veterans into The American Legion Department of Connecticut, and possible Sikorsky Aircraft Corp sponsorship for future American Legion events.  
 
  • Staff is working on a repeal of the retiree COLA provision contained in the recent budget agreement (H.J. Res. 59). We are working in tandem with the Military Coalition and have signed onto a letter appealing to lawmakers to push some of the already existing bills that seek to repeal the provision in full. The American Legion launched an Action Alert to mobilize our members to contact their elected officials regarding this subject.
 
  • Staff will participate in a conference call with Senator Lindsey Graham's (SC) staff to discuss ways to move forward in fixing the military pension issue.
 
  • On January 6, 2014, Representative Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs will visit the Charlie Norwood and Williams Bryan Jennings Dorn VA Medical Centers. According to Rep. Miller, the oversight visits "are the result of at least nine preventable deaths linked to delays in medical care at the Columbia and Augusta facilities. These visits will provide an opportunity for members of Congress to hear directly from VA officials in Augusta and Columbia regarding the steps department leaders have taken to address problems with delays in care and hold accountable VA employees and executives who may be responsible for allowing patients to slip through the cracks."
The American Legion's System Worth Saving Task Force will also visit the Charlie Norwood VAMC at the end of January 2014, and the Williams Bryan Jennings Dorn VAMC in March 2014.
  • On December 29, 2013, The VA Office of Inspector General Office of Healthcare Inspections conducted an inspection to review allegations from a confidential complainant about quality of care issues, inadequate discharge planning, and lapses in communication at the San Juan VA Medical Center in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Doctors at the hospital released a patient who was suffering from delirium and barely able to function, ignoring evaluations by staff nurses. Officials discharged the man even though he could not take care of himself, was malnourished and dehydrated during his stay and required an ambulance ride to leave the hospital.
The VA Office of Inspector General (VA OIG) Office of Healthcare Inspections substantiated the allegations that the medical condition leading to the patient's acute delirium was not addressed, and that the patient was not medically stable when he left the facility. The VA OIG also substantiated the allegation that the patient lost a significant amount of weight while he was in the hospital, and determined that the patient's nutritional treatment plan was inadequate. The VA OIG recommended that thorough nutritional assessments are completed (including weights), processes be strengthened to ensure nursing staff perform accurate daily skin inspections, and that discharge planning processes are appropriate for the patient's condition. They also recommended that the informed consent process complies with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) requirements, and that the facility director consults with Regional Counsel regarding possible disclosure of failure to diagnose urinary tract infection and prevent and treat pressure ulcers.
    
  • On January 9, 2014, The American Legion's System Worth Saving Task Force is hosting a Town Hall Meeting at 7pm at American Legion Post #16 406 SE Oak Avenue, Roseburg, Oregon 97470 for veterans to discuss the Roseburg VA Medical Center. During the meeting, the Task Force will focus on VA's accomplishments and progress over the past ten years, current issues and concerns as well as VA's five-year strategic plan for several program areas, such as: campus alignment, staffing, enrollment/outreach, hospital programs (e.g. mental health, intensive care unit (ICU), long-term services and support, homelessness programs) information technology and construction programs.
 
  • On Friday, January 10, 2014, national staff will be meeting with staff from the House Veterans Affairs Committee regarding proposed regulation changes for veterans' disability claims.
  • January 9-10, 2014, The American Legion's System Worth Saving Task Force is conducting a site visit of the Roseburg VA Medical Center in Roseburg, Oregon. During the visit, the Task Force will focus on VA's accomplishments and progress over the past ten years, current issues and concerns as well as VA's five-year strategic plan for several program areas, such as: VA's budget, campus alignment, staffing, enrollment/outreach, hospital programs (e.g. mental health, intensive care unit (ICU), long-term services and support, homelessness programs) information technology and construction programs.
 
  • Yesterday, National Security Division staff members Joe Grassi and Freddy Gessner collaborated with Legion's Burn Pit blogger, Mark Seavey and military advocate Leta Carruth in an effort to support the honor guard soldiers who are responsible for the care and handling of the horses that perform caisson duty for Arlington National Cemetery. Ms. Carruth noticed that the Carhartt rancher coats that are specific to this unit were getting threadbare. She learned that replacements would not be quickly forthcoming due to recently imposed Army budgetary restrictions. So, Carruth appealed to the Michigan-based Carhartt company who "happily agreed"  to replace the troops' worn gear with new articles, including jackets, shirts and undershirts. The national security staff was glad to assist with logistics.  Photos and webstory on this are posted on the Legion website.
 
UPCOMING HEARINGS-
January 15, 2014. Hearing Topic: Vendors in the OR - VA's Failed Oversight of Surgical Implants
 
 

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