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Welcome to the BOMB.

The Blog Of the "Mother" of Bandit.
Bandit is my Hairless Chinese Crested--he's the "normal" one. I, on the other hand, am unrepentantly "pet-crazy." You know the type--the spinster who lives in the haunted house three blocks over with 72 cats...okay, so I don't have 72 cats, and my house isn't haunted--but my dogs wardrobe is better than mine! Need I say more? :~)
I've never been consistant at journaling, so the timing of my blogs will be sporadic at best. I just hope they are as entertaining to you as they are to me; however, be forewarned: Most of my blogs will be about The BaldOne. In spite of his Don King "do," I think he's just as cute as any of the Brothers B!
Now, if I can just remember not to get him wet--or feed him after midnight...

About Me

My photo
My bags are packed and I'm always ready to seek out an adventure with Bandit and Moggy in tow. Bandit is my thirteen year old Chinese Crested, who I frequently call The Bald One or The BaldOne Boy (like he was one of the Baldwin Brothers). Moggy’s full name is Pip-Moggy. He’s my two year old gansta-resuce kitty. I couldn’t decide between Pip (which are the spots on die and domino tiles) and Moggy (or Moggie when I mistakenly thought he was a she), so I combined the two. Moggy refers to the British term for "cat of unknown parentage .” So in essence, I have an almost bald dog, and I’ve named my cat “Spot.”

Fun Stuff (I'm doing now or have done)

  • Artistic Attempts weekly (alternating between Painting With A Twist, That Art Place, and Peniot's Palette).
  • Bunko with the Belton Bunko Babes monthly.
  • Participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge.
  • Spades and Liverpool Rummy with the Spadetts weekly.
  • The Mighty Texas Dog Walk, Austin (fund raiser for Service Dogs, Inc--they train shelter dogs to be Service Dogs, then give them free of charge to people with disabilities.)

Monday, January 4, 2016

A Heart for Veterans.

This post is part of ThinkKit by SmallBox.

January 4, 2016 prompt: “In Your Eyes. Share a photo or paint us a picture with words. Show us something from your year through your eyes. Did you see something that took your breath away? Or maybe you just couldn't look away?”

A Heart for Veterans.

When I introduce myself as a Registered Nurse Patient Care Coordinator (Case Manger), people always want to know where I work. When I tell them I work  at my local Veterans Administration Hospital often times non-Veterans  gasp,  or attempt to drill me for dirty secrets.  It’s part of the territory.  I’m a Federal Government Employee, which means to the public I am lazy, overpaid, corrupt, and do everything within my power to ensure our Veterans don’t receive the care they need.  Although the Veterans in this area know that is not true, the recent Arizona VA Scandal continues to perpetuate that misconception.  

I am lazy. In my personal life. However, I’m not lazy at work. In fact, I frequently take on problems for which I am passionate although I don’t  have ownership.   I rarely take my lunch half-hour, and am almost always late going home. When I see a need that my Veterans have, I doggedly seek out the correct department to petition on their behalf. Patient Advocacy is one of my many roles as an RN.

Overpaid?!  Not hardly!  In fact, I took a pay cut in order to come to work for the VA, when I, as a Bachelor-degree prepared RN with over 6 years’ experience  and a Master’s Degree in a related field, was making less than I made at my first Nursing job. You see, by law, the VA cannot be the highest paying employer in the area.  When the new RN pay scales come out each year, we lose very talented people to the private sector because the private sector pays better, and doesn’t  have to put up with Federal Government Employee Red Tape.  Interestingly,  those RN pay scales come out later and later each year.

Additionally, when the current administration decided to freeze pay raises for Federal Employees for three years—in order to “balance the budget,” that meant I didn’t even receive  my less than one percent Cost of Living Raise—the same COL Raise that used to be 4%, and couldn’t keep up with the rate of inflation even back then. And you can see how well the salary freeze balanced our National Debt—we are even further in debt than we were before the pay freeze. 

The current administration is not the only one that has taken pot shots at Federal Employees.  Back in the 1990s Congress passive-aggressively refused to sign a budget, which resulted in salaries being deferred.  I was house shopping at the time and was shown a house that belonged to a family where both the adults worked for the VA. They had not had a salary in 6 weeks. Yet they were expected to show up and continue to serve our Veterans. And they did.  And  each September we go through the same period of not knowing if the budget will be signed or not by October 1st, the beginning of the Fiscal Year.

Corrupt?!  Not hardly. By-and-large, VA Employees are honest and hard-working. Even when companies are trying to woo us, or entice us to use their services or products, they are prohibited from  “gifting” us with anything  over the cost of refreshments served during the presentation. 

As an RN, I am not eligible for an end of year performance bonus.  Even though, for my entire VA career—the last 18 years—my yearly evaluations have consistently been Highly Successful or Outstanding (the highest achievable evaluations). Even though I have received accolades from our Chief of Staff, Director, and administrators at the Regional and  VISN levels.  Even though I received a nomination for VA Woman of the Year. (I didn’t win—but I knew I wouldn’t because of the awesome Women I was up against—women who have accomplished extraordinary things for Veterans—it truly was  “just an honor to be in the running.”)

As for the fallacy of VA attempting to thwart Veterans from receiving heath care?!  Let me tell you about a week I recently had:  As usual, I was not only covering my own high turn-over ward (my ward receives over 33% of the entire hospital admissions, and discharges over 32%—that does not include the Veterans that are transferred from my ward once they no longer require telemetry monitoring and are discharged from the other ward), I was also covering part of two other wards because, once again, we were short-staffed.  We have been short-staffed my entire VA career. During this week, as always, I was also working on getting quite a few of my Veterans to local facilities for services our facility does not provide. In those cases, VA  contracts with other hospitals to ensure our Veterans receive top-notch care. Additionally, I was also working on getting a Veteran to an exclusive program in California (they are one of 5 hospitals that perform the procedure he needs, and they do over 50% of all of this particular procedure, so they are the Gold Standard), and I was dealing with the Mayo Clinic  on behalf of another Veteran.  Not only thatneither  Veteran was service connected for these services—which means, we really didn’t have to even try. But we did. Because it’s the right thing to do for the men and women who fought for our freedom.
VA goes over and above for our Veterans on a daily basis. We overbook clinics and work our staff overtime to ensure our Veterans receive top quality care. We contract with local and national hospitals to ensure the Gold Standard of  care is provided. We do not shirk from our vision and mission to provide excellent care.  

By the way, you never hear of the awards VA receives, because that doesn’t make for juicy scandal headlines.
VA leads the nation in many areas of health care, business leadership, documentation, etcetera.  But those accomplishments are rarely talked about in the media.  Are we perfect? No. We do have a few lazy employees that will take the low road to a shortcut. Everyplace does. Sometimes those shortcuts result in harm.  But you know what?  If you think your own hospital is perfect and without a few disgruntled employees that are just there for the paycheck, you are sadly mistaken. Your hospital just doesn’t come under media and government attack because the VA already has an easy target painted on its back.
I left the private sector because I was disgruntled there. I saw waste and fraud. In VA I see a concerted effort to avoid those pitfalls. And being from a family of men and women who proudly served, including my Father who was Navy for two years, then joined the Air Force and remained in for over twenty years, I have a heart for Veterans.

(Footnote:  This post is a part of my personal blog and in NO WAY am I a spokesman for the VA, local or national. My blog is an expression of my personal experiences and views, and should not be construed to be anything else.)

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