Everyday heroism requires action.
Although this picture depicts some of our U.S Congressional representatives, it does not depict all of them. Congress still remains one of the better solutions to help reform the Department of Veterans Affairs, because Congress can legislate new laws that can make the VA do so. The VA cannot change a law passed by Congress, that’s why it is imperative that this responsibility falls on Congress to correct the problems at the VA. The VA cannot be trusted to fix it's own problems, because VA directives, memorandums, and protocols can be changed by the VA at any time, as well as, their interpretation and adherence to their own made up rules. A well written law minimizes ambiguity and ensures adherence and accountability. The only way Congress will legislate new laws is if their constituents demand it. Veterans and their families must become veteran advocate lobbyists and communicate directly to their Congressional representatives what they need and want from the VA.
Please vote out anyone who does not support legislation that will reform the VA and please vote in those people who will actually do what is necessary to improve the VA.
Assist the Cogs
What is a cog?
Cogs are the teeth on a sprocket or gear. A cogwheel is any wheel with teeth (cogs). A gear is a wheel with cogs that mesh with the gears of another wheel. A cog is a simple spur gear. A cogwheel or gear is a rotating machine part which meshes with another toothed part to transmit or receive motion.
Why refer to government workers as cogs?
Cog also refers to a subordinate member of an organization who performs necessary but usually minor or routine functions of an organization.
Interestingly, the transitive verb of the word means to “load or manipulate fraudulently”; the noun of the word means “and instance of cheating; a swindle or trick”.
Not only do federal VA employees (cogs) have very specific job descriptions, they can only act within their specific job description. The VA is divided into thousands of departments and job descriptions which are all supposed to work with one another like cogs on a wheel and gears in a machine. The VA is an enormous system of connected parts forming a complex whole. There is a hierarchy within each job description and department.
A cog who knows it’s job well and stays within it’s wheel (job description) is more efficient than a cog who tries to do another cog’s job (duplication of work). Cogs that have a clear understanding of their role minimize confusion for everyone.
Most of the time services to the veteran require several different cogs (people, job descriptions, departments) working together. However, when a person, job description or department is not functioning well it creates a bottleneck. A bottleneck is a point of congestion in a production system that occurs when workloads arrive too quickly for the production to handle.
Unfortunately, too many government workers are treated like cogs in a machine rather than being treated with dignity. People who have limited understanding about the way government works tend to blame the individual cog for failing to deliver on services and wrongly take their frustrations out on the cog or cogs whom they have been interacting with. Many times the veteran has been interfacing with very exceptional and highly dedicated employees, but who were unable to help the veteran due to a systems problem.
Fixing system problems takes a long time to correct because there are usually many people and departments involved. Services delivered to the veteran are based on law, which must be interpreted and converted into language that explicitly states how the service to the veteran will be delivered. The interpretation of these laws trickle down to specific departments (e.g., Information Technology, Human Resources, Member Services, Billing, Privacy, Medicine, Benefits, Legal, etc.), who are responsible for maintaining the integrity of the law and provide consultant services to cogs in other departments.
(check back as we expand on these ideas)
Support VA Cog Whistleblowers
Encourage and support them in doing what's right instead of what's easy. Too many veterans are dying for federal employees to ignore what is happening because they only care about keeping their job. Unfortunately, doing the right thing often means losing everything, because the VA cares more about it's image than it's mission. The VA will go to great lengths and spend a lot of money to discredit a whistleblower. Due to the internet, more and more whistleblowers have been able to connect with one another. It appears the VA has been using a "playbook" of unethical and illegal tactics for decades. You can help whistleblowers get connected with one another. Most people who become a whistleblower NEVER planned on becoming one. No one plans to be a whistleblower. No one wants to be a whistleblower. Whistleblowers are individuals who have integrity and understand the importance of correcting a wrong doing. That is why Veterans and their families need to actively support legislation that protects whistleblowers. Veterans and their families need to support whistleblowers anyway they can, whether it's simply signing a petition, calling their congressional representative, submitting letters to an editor, or donating to non-profit groups who support whistleblowers. The VA will never improve if whistleblowers continue to be persecuted. The VA will continue to find ways to conceal unethical and unlawful practices. The VA claims it's transparent, but it is far from it.
Whenever you hear about a whistleblower, be sure to help them connect with other whistleblowers. Even though the internet is bringing whistleblowers closer together, the internet is still large. The VA spends a lot of money each year to support it's good image and to drown out those who want to improve it.