VA To Tap Disney For ‘Disneyization’ Of Veterans Affairs?

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Disneyization of Veterans Affairs

Benjamin Krause

During a closed meeting with 100 AFGE union leaders, Secretary McDonald announced Disney would provide customer service assistance for a disneyization of Veterans Affairs. The meeting occurred during last week’s American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) national meeting for union leaders of the organization and McDonald’s Disney announcement left many attendees baffled.

McDonald made reference to his push for the disneyization of VA in the near future in response to concerns of nationwide VA health care service problems. His goal is to help change cultural problems in the agency by using Disney training and services. This sentiment was echoed on Meet the Press this past weekend when McDonald stated, “We want the veterans’ experience with the VA to be as good as the best private sector experiences.” He went on, “Like if you took your family to Disney.” Some speculate the Disney model might be behind the current push for McDonald’s I CARE accountability program.

Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson has also been cited endorsing the customer service of Disney. As recently as November, Gibson has said he is working to recruit a chief customer service officer from companies “known globally for their superb customer service,” such as Disney.

This focus on Disney may be the byproduct of the agency’s use of the Disney Institute training at Phoenix VA. Just tweet #DThink on Twitter to jump into the conversation.

RELATED: U-Patient Centered Care Model (Disney Institute) Training VISN 18 VA Southwest Healthcare Network, Phoenix, AZ

According to a confidential source at the meeting, Secretary McDonald stated, “We can’t delight our veterans if we can’t delight our employees.” He went on to explain that the Disney model for customer service is the new future of VA health care.

Out of curiosity, if VA were a Disney character, which would it be? Will VA employees now wear a VA equivalent to the Mickey Mouse hat?

McDonald’s closed-door announcement raised concerns from many union reps worried that the move would cause the agency to focus on the wrong deliverables. Instead of focusing on giving veterans competent and beneficial health care, these union reps are concerned the new focus will be more of a propaganda move than one delivering value.

Confounding the announcement, Disney and Secretary McDonald apparently plan to provide the services to Department of Veterans Affairs for free. Yes, I said free.

This brought on many questions from meeting attendees questioning the intent and background of such a “free” deal. The House Committee on Veterans Affairs later told attendees that the move would receive little to no oversight until it is put into action because it does not involve a contract.

You see. Free services are some kind of work around for oversight, at least in the short term, according to those in attendance at the Congressional meetings on the Hill.

Now, why would Disney want access to VA and why does VA want to engage in “disneyization” of its systems? No company does anything for free, so what is the quid pro quo behind the scenes here? And what is Disneyization even mean?

FLASHBACK: Helman fired after lobbyist paid for her $11k, 8-day trip with 6 family members to Disneyland

One interesting academic note on the subject is called McDonald’s as a Disneyized Institution: Global Implications. Scholar Alan Bryman tells us disneyization includes four primary elements:

  1. Theming: the use of a narrative that is consciously imposed on a particular sphere and which envelopes consumers,
  2. Dedifferentiation of consumption: denotes simply the general trend whereby the forms of consumption associated with different institutional spheres become interlocked with each other and increasingly difficult to distinguish,
  3. Merchandising: a term I use simply to refer to the promotion of goods in the form of, or bearing, copyright images and logos, including such products made under license, and
  4. Emotional labor: entails control over the employee so that socially desired emotions are exhibited during service transactions.

The academic note above leaves out the fifth element, which is known as “Control and Surveillance” in another book, The Disneyization of Society. While somewhat vague during his speech, my guess that Secretary McDonald will focus on elements 1,2 and 4 with specific focus on “emotional labor” for its front line workers. It will likely also include some degree of “control and surveillance” using RFID type devices in our VA ID cards and tracking movements of VA staff and patients similar to Disney’s RFID tracking program.

RELATED: Disney introduces new NSA-style bands that track visitors everywhere they go

Disneyization of Veterans Affairs is not to be confused with disneyification of Veterans Affairs. The former includes the five elements I discussed above and the process of instilling those corporate models into VA’s existing culture. Disneyification means converting what exists into a distilled version of itself that strips out reality such as turning reality into a children’s movie.

As I dug into the “Why free?” question, I found quotes from VA senior leaders referencing their Disney fetish following a sharp critique from a Northwestern University professor. Last July, Dr. Joel Shalowitz was critical of VA calling the wait list scandal and resultant management problems “one of the worst management strategies that I’ve ever heard.”

According to The Arizona Republic, the citation continued:

“I don’t know any successful organization that has done this, that has been successful, or turned around by implementing a rotating system of leaders.” Shalowitz cited the Walt Disney Co. as an example. The iconic founder’s vision was clear. Regardless of who is in charge, employees can ask, “What would Walt have done?” and work individually to fulfill that mission, he said.

Source: Experts question rotation of acting Phoenix VA directors

VA leaders then publicly jumped on the bandwagon and are now endorsing the Disney model to the media, which I cited at the beginning of this article.

So should we embrace a Disney version of VA? Why do you think Disney would help VA for free?

If VA implements Disney’s $1 Billion MyMagic+ RFID tracker wristband program that tracks all visitors, I will certainly be concerned.

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60 COMMENTS

  1. McDonald’s with Disney. I think it just shows us once again what a circus the VA has become! Whats next, Chuck-E-Cheese? Then let’s move the call centers and appeals process to India!

    • Don’t think it won’t happen (India) – with the VA’s new tele-health program the VA might even have VA doctor’s not immigrate – they will dispense their wisdom electronically right from the comforts of their ox cart.

      • ONe doesn’t need to be licensed to practice as a doctor at the VA Just look at all the unsupervised interns practicing one vets besides unlicensed foreign or domestic doctors or physician assiatnst acting as doctors and or supposed doctors who have lost licensing and or been sued in civil courts for malpractice or negligence and cant get medical malpractice insurance so they come to the VA to work on us !! Sure next step is none immigration of doctors from overseas as it will be done electronically and they will have call centers in India or China, etc

        Lee Horowitz M.Ed, CAGS
        US Navy disabled Vietnam Era Veteran
        Veterans advocate/ Veterans civil rights advocate
        [email protected]

    • I am surprised they didn’t go with McDonald’s. That way we could have a director be a Ronald McDonald…. lol Gotta love these people at the VA Director level. Why didn’t they hire a consulting firm? Wouldn’t that have been the better way to go instead of Disney. In a world of make believe the VA currently exists….

  2. Dave-they would have been better off going to Warner Brothers for their cast of characters. Every time I go to VAMC I feel like I’m in a Looney Tunes world. Our director may very well be Elmer Fudd. When I go in there I feel like Wile E. Coyote at the bottom of a cliff getting a large boulder dropped on me..

  3. Whatever! Let’s just expedite the fxxxxxg claims already! and roundup and help
    the homeless vets living in the streets. Probably a lot of them are homeless because
    they are waiting for their claims to be settled.

    • Jim Nose – You are exactly right. Some have lost everything waiting for their claims to be approved. They don’t seem to understand it isn’t about how fast you do them if they get denied, even though the claim is valid. I can’t understand why this problem is not fixed. Many Veterans have waited for years for their claims to be processed. Shameful, just shameful what they do to us. Why does it take so many tries before claims are approved??? This is so broken and is the root of all problems….

  4. WTF?!! (I repeat) WTF?!!
    So the VA needs cartoons and characters and each given a pack of official Disney Crayons and coloring books at some profound $$$$ cost that again, could be $$$$ for actually settling claims, Veteran’s Homelessness, and the list goes on? Will the VAHS’s halls now be piping “It’s a small world, It’s a small small world…”, to ad nausea with obligatory subliminal messages to make one not mind nor care that Nurse Ratchet is “playing Dr.” with non-sterile equipment, with sharpened teeth? WHY FREAKING DISNEY??? Is the joke literally ON US?
    IF the VA adopts Disney’s model of the RFID Bracelets under the guise of “Patient Tracking”, I think we will have even more serious concerns to deal with!

    My local channel 10TV News in Columbus, OHIO announced last night they will be running an investigative segment this THURSDAY, 219/15 @ 6:45 p.m. EST on local Veteran Affairs HORROR STORIES and craptastic care experiences…SO, this now reaching my LOCAL LEVEL in this State of Ohio’s Capital City is actually significant…and BEN, if you can obtain a link from their website from that if it’s newsworthy, it surely cannot hurt our effort in changing the culture of the VA.

    Disney used as a model for customer service…does anyone else see the irony of this? Is it just me or is this a bit insulting? Why not take a model from Bob’s Proctor and Gamble Corporation, where he already has thirty years of qualified experience to utilize? Why yet ANOTHER out-sourcing and expenditure?

    You know Disney pretty much had everything to do with the demise of Jim Henson of the Muppets notoriety by pretty much slaving his skills while PAYING NO MIND to his physical withering away? I have ZERO respect nor TRUST of Disney and think this begs to be looked into further! Something seems a bit “Goofy”!

    • I agree with Ben in that NO Corporation dos ANYTHING for “free”…and am sure there’s something dark and sinister like perhaps the VA moving to mandatory RFID chips implanted or just simply given to unknowing Veterans upon receiving annual flu shots and such…I am being cautiously “flip” but with that said, I think it’s worthy of extreme caution.
      Will this simply mean that “Miss Piggy” stickers will be placed on foreheads of found to be overweight Veterans or will “Frozen” simply be the NEW THEME, taken quite literally, for the VAHS…as in “Frozen Incompetence”….? This has turned my rational brain entirely upside down this morning! I thank The Lord I no longer use the VAHS and Medicare only for my sanity and physical well-being.
      One thing that’s for sure, the VA is definitely “DAFFY”!!!!
      I would rather see a large thing such as “The Clinton Initiative” or “Bill Gates Foundation” being asked for consulting.
      This only proves that the VA HAS NO IDEA what REAL customer service actually is when their feeble minds require CARTOONS to convey this. I hear circus music…and on that note, WHY NOT consult Barnum & Bailey? Same difference! WTF?
      Is this a joke?

  5. I agree with the Union Reps, PROPAGANDA all the way. If Disney wants to help, then let theM FIGHT THE NEXT “FREEDOM WAR”, OH AND BY THE BY,THEY CAN “FINANCE” IT TOO.

  6. Where’s then “TOP COPS” to go after the VA to conform to (for examples): Jan. 2010 and June 2010 Compensation and Pension Bulletins Policy (211); The Nehmer Court Order Nehmer Training Guide (211A) February 2011 Revised ( including sanctions against the VA); and Congressional Research Services / Statutory Presumptions by law clerk Nichols Oct. 2010) ? Likewise, why isn’t DVA Attn: Nehmer Working Group Washington DC. very very active ? I and many Veterans should not need an outside lawyer(or group of lawyers) to enforce the already laid down and laid out Court Order: Nehmer. Yes, the Nehmer Training Guide states: VA compensates class counsel for it’s work on Nehmer claims. Yet, I written to the Nehmer Working Group 3 times over the past many months. And, I have not received a direct answer: not even the (paid for) Return Receipt Requested from Post Office 20420 ! Yet, of Buffalo DVA and Nehmer Working Group, My claim to cover loose ends and RETRO has been sent to the Board of Veterans Appeal (board); my appeal is to have my claim(s) processed to “Nehmer” is now delayed of the Board of Veterans Appeal back-logged to 2012. What’s with that ? Perhaps monies to be added for bonuses for each of the next couple of years before payout awarded ? Yet, the Nehmer Court Order gives Nehmer claims priority and RETRO was to have been paid within 21 days following June 2014 DVA Decision DVA examiner diagnosed my ischemic heart disease to as early as 2000. Sanctions should be brought against the Buffalo DVA, the Nehmer Working Group, and the Board of Veteran’s Appeal Board; yes, to have my claim prioritized Nehmer, I’m told that I have to write a letter to have my claim docketed as Nehmer. We Veterans are treated like mushrooms: The VA keeps us in the dark (for long periods) and feeds us B.S.. Likewise, according to Congressional Research Services /. Statutory Presumptions, I am no longer considered a claimant, I am a : Veteran. I am also entitled to incubation period of my illnesses.

  7. Just when I didn’t think it could get any worse, I stand corrected. This is so wrong on so many levels. Just to think that Disney is the way they want to go is “Goofy”. So does thins mean that they will have the “Sheriff of Nottingham” to replace the VA Police or “Sgt. Tibbs”? This is starting to make Bob look more like “Dumbo” and Allison Hickey would be “Minnie Mouse”. Maybe Bob thinks that Disney will act like “Merlin”, or “Merlock the Magician”, or “Peter Pan” and magically fix everything. Maybe Bob is hoping that he will get “Lucky” and this will help out the VA. If things keep going we will be able to tell how is telling the truth and who is “Pinocchio”. Does this mean that we will all have “Doc” as our actual doctor? Maybe they think that their “Cheshire Cat” grins will fool us into believing all of this “Magic Kingdom” and in reality it is a “Bugs Life” or “Monsters Inc.” and we are ” Shipped wrecked” and we all should be thinking about “Jumping Ship”. before we become “Old Yeller” or “The Sorcerers Apprentice”. Will this work? It would be a “Miracle”. Maybe they just feel “Invincible”.
    Look them up, they are all Disney characters or movies.

  8. Why not have a theme of “PIGS IN SPACE” of the Muppets be theme for Psych Dep., and “Madam Mim” operating VA Pharmacy as a theme, and Looney Tunes “Animaniacs” on all TV’s everywhere and VA Patient Advocates will be “The Mad Hatter” from Alice in Wonderland” theme…et al?
    This is so ridiculous, just as what I flippantly suggested above! Disney?
    Will VA Physical Therapy now be at the expenditure of wheelchair-friendly water slides with “It’s a small small world…” Theme?
    Rant over, I promise…but that picture for this article that Ben placed the Mickey Mouse Ears on has kept me laughing at this absurdity. LOL!

    • Maybe we should not laugh this off. I just looked up…
      Criticism of The Disney Company Wikipedia

      Sounds to me they would be a perfect match,
      They would not even have to change much….

  9. What would Walt have done? This will never be answered at the VA because there are far too many rigid rules, and far too many power mad managers to allow for anything close to that type of flexibility.

    • Yes, there is no core persona or ethos for a VA employee to fall back on. Plus, the constant changes of internal policies confuse veterans, policymakers and employees alike making such a “What would Walt do?” fall back impossible.

  10. Meryl Streep called Disney a Nazi a couple of months back. I’ve lived near Disney in Florida and now in Anaheim, CA, and it is easy to believe Ms. Streep. The early release felony convicts in CA go from the average 20% of the population (USA Today, Dec 14, 2012) to close to 80% in the neighborhoods in Anaheim, CA (you really don’t want to live there!)

    Now Vet’s are going to all get RFID’s put in us? I will NEVER let the VA operate on me nor will I be sedated by them. Don’t tread on me! This is absolutely ridiculous.

  11. Now that I think about this, it pisses me off. For over 20 years I have gone to the VA and have been treated like some Ill-informed idiot that just is too stupid to understand the brilliance of whatever nurse is playing doctor that day. This will reinforce that arrogance.

  12. There are more layers to this “Onion-esque” headline. Across the south, there are various ‘client service’ models that are smearing their madness onto healthcare. There’s Planetree on the west coast – a very touchy, feely method that strives to at least make the nurses and staff feel as if their opinion and effort has an impact. Then there’s Studer – the horror of immediate bedding that comes from a business idea that cut its teeth on some convenience stores and nursing homes out of Florida. The whole idea of calling a patient a ‘client’ is just such a lame attempt to alter care culture, that in some cases really does need to be changed, but this is not it. Go google ‘nurse-scripting’ and ‘AIDET’; you’ll see what heath care belt tightening and profitization has left us with. In Indianapolis alone, we’ve had over 3000 nurse and HCW layoffs due to the culling – oops – sorry, cost saving ideas of these kinds of consultancies.

    I personally never had anything but top notch care at the VA in Indy, but then I’m also a nurse and know what to look for. Things that annoy a lot of patients don’t bother me because I know what they’re up against, so IMHO there probably should be some better training for interaction between providers of any level and the patients. One should not have to be a nurse to get what is going on in your own care, so yes. I’d be preaching to the choir to say that there is room for some kind of improvement.

    That brings me to an earlier experience with family members that ‘worked for the Mouse’ back in the 80s. This is not a job for ninny’s – its demanding. When the mouse says your working, you’re working – hard. I have some girl cousins who are natural blonds and got the super-fun-summer-job of being mermaids on the jungle cruise ride in Disneyland. The training is phenomenal. Customer service includes things like attentiveness, being alert to guest needs and mandatory resourcing for issues that cannot be solved at the level you’re working at. (I’m not really sure what a mermaid does, but its nice to know that if you’re a mermaid with a guest problem, you can make one call and solve it.) Everyone is in a position to solve a guest problem with a phone call, all the time. This is key – especially in direct care nursing. I can only dream of having such a system in place!

    Tell me that’s not a good idea for the VA. If it eliminated even a little bit of the bureaucracy – as Martha Stewart says – that’s a good thing. And having experienced the alternative, demoralizing and career killing methods of Studer, this is a step in the right direction. The VA has already tried some methods – I know that Toyota customer service was a model that the unions approved at one point – but maybe this is a better alternative, given that the business model that the hospitality sector provides is closer to what the VA does than what a truck manufacturer does.

    As far as why is it being donated to the VA? Good question. Tax breaks? Disney has always been very pro-troops, and not just as a sound byte. They do donate a lot of services and discounts to active duty and veterans, so it doesn’t seem like a huge leap outside their culture.

    Examine this a bit further, and in context – there is probably more to it than just the silly hat.

    • After reading some of the comments – let me add that this model that Disney does would compel some of these lumpy managers to actually be available, engaged and present in the problem solving process, get them out of their offices and back closer to the bedside where patients are being treated. I guess that’s the crux of my rant. Although, mermaids are pretty cool…

    • This reminds me of the 3×5 card program Col. Pagonis had at DISCOM in the 80”s, and still had as LTG Pagonis during the Gulf War. Any soldier down to Private could submit a problem on a 3×5 card up the chain of command. It would keep going up the chain until it was fixed. The chain knew they had to fix a problem or Pagonis would hear of it and ask why it wasn’t fixed. In theory, even the Private would receive the 3×5 card back with a note of how it was fixed.

      • McDonald SAID he fired 900 people – where is the proof? He even contradicted himself several moments later in his testimony.

        The did not take 40 years to break (I personally attest that it was broken in 1969 when I first went to a VA. The VA history for the past 80 years has been one of never ending reforms, new regulations, expanding the bureaucracy, lying to Congress, substandard care, delayed compensation claims, mismanagement and attempting to reinvent the wheel.

        What ever happened that each veteran would receive a survey after their treatment? That would literally take about a week to set up with a large survey company. It is simple why they haven’t done it ….. they don’t want to.

        My private doctor’s main office sends a survey by email every time I go. And, if they don’t get a completed survey after 5 days, they email me again to complete it. I also get a synopsis of my visit within 24 hours and what information they have added to my medical file. (They don’t have to wait 3 days to have their actions reviewed – [like Blue Button on Myhealthevet])If I send an email to the doctor, he answers it, not one of his staff. Just a side note; My last visit, I had an ultrasound done, my vitals taken, an examination and a short conference with the doctor. I was in and out in 25 minutes. Tell me of any VA in the country which could match that.

  13. “I’m in a world of shit, yes, but I’m alive and I’m not afraid.”

    Full Metal Jacket – Mickey Mouse song

    • Frakkin’ fantastic vet. When will the American people figure out that McDonald is Daffy Duck and his policies were generated the Disney characters Goofy and Elmer Fudd.

    • CALM DOWN. This is specifically to address a ‘wandering patient’ concern among those with possible symptoms of dementia. The VA has no need to know when vets go to the store, or access services.

      • Will they make me go to Disneyland? Not a bad idea to get more attendance and dollars flowing.

        I can envision basic training there too. The new boot camp song will be, “We’re off to see the wizard,” strike that, Osama, strike that, ISIS.

  14. Regarding the NSA-style tracking bands which track visitors everywhere they go. This concept is scary. It’s bordering on ankle bracelet technology to track every move a veteran makes in their daily lives does it not? Isn’t this a form of criminalizing the veteran?

    I’ve always wondered about geo-tracking devices and when they’d start being introduced into society. Once again, it could very possibly be the veterans this program cuts its teeth on.

  15. More I thought about this today I am thinking that this actually smells MORE of some kind of deal/partnership cooked-up by the VA Gov’t. Employees Union…so they can ALSO get special BONUS VACATION PACKAGES for doing exactly what they have been doing all along…and the VA contracting with Disney to hold all their higher echelon leadership conferences at Disney Resorts and Cruises…not to the benefit of we Veterans in increased better care and less red tape.
    The 800 LB gorilla in the room (the VA) has already put on an extra 800 LBs and NOBODY wants to even bother trying to address the real problems…seems that Secretary McDonald must OWE Disney and Friends some sort of corporate FAVOR for him to just pull this out of the hat with a Cheshire Cat Grin….why no announcement of THIS on Meet The Press? May it have sounded a bit “Goofy” to the general American Public so best to try to do this on the sly?
    There’s something much more to this and call me a skeptic but I am almost certain we Veterans are not the benefactors of this…UNLESS, Disney is actually being consulted BY THE VA for a new “House of Horrors and Freak Show” as an expansion of Disney’s theme parks….then the VA is a perfect train wreck of an example for them for a “HAUNTED HOSPITAL THEME RIDE”. Sad, but unfortunately ugly truth.

  16. M- I-C (C-YOU LATER!) K -E -Y (Y? BECAUSE WE THINK YOU’RE DUMB!) M -O -U- S -E! (GEE! I FEEL GOOFY posting this!:-) }

  17. I say if everyone at the VA just did their job right the first time, we wouldn’t need all of this hoopla about customer service. The best customer service is when you go in for a product, you are treated like you belong there, you get the service you were seeking and you feel appreciated for your time and effort when you leave. Nothing more, nothing less. We don’t go to the VA to be entertained or gushed over – we just want paperwork processed properly, adequate medical care and follow up, and assistance in getting our “new normal” in place. Nothing more, nothing less. If we actually get healthy enough- and the VA and DoD can quit chastising wounded veterans who actually smile in spite of their circumstances-. maybe, just maybe, we could enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the real Disney World. Now once at Disney, I would expect a magical experience… nothing more, nothing less.

  18. If we recognize that the VA system is broken, and we are (finally) bringing someone with private sector experience to solve the problem, let’s back off and let them give it their best effort. At the end of the day, all everyone wants is quality healthcare for vets. Any program that gets apathetic VA employees excited is good in my book, and Disney is known for outstanding customer service for a reason. Call me crazy, but I applaud this program. VA needs better quality care and better customer service, and I hope this helps with the latter. McDonald is not an idiot, and he has proven that he is serious about reforming the VA by personally answering emails, firing of many corrupt or nonperforming employees, and exploration of the alternatives. As far as Disney is concerned, this may lead to ongoing employee training programs for them, brand name amplification, and a (confirming) test that their approach is “magical.” It’s a win-win in my book.

  19. I’m just beside myself that Mr. Bobby didn’t pick me and Warner Brothers Animation to help the veteran’s customer service out! I for one have tried using one of them uuhhhh hospitals, but when I said “ahhhh, What’s up Doc?’ to the person being the doctor on the set, he didn’t know who I was because looney tunes and myself never appreared in his country where he is from, he told me in some foreign accent he had going on. He didn’t think I was funny either – he wanted to have me pinned down to the floor by the mean people there as a disruptive rabbit! I think they are professional SUMO wrestlers, not doctors.
    So now, I am having Warner Bros. sue the SOBs for about $17 million I heard they recently got given to them by the annimated government of theirs who prints animated money for everyone.
    Hey Ben….I demand you put my ears on Bobby….hahahahaha!

      • Porky, First I never thought I would be responding to a post made by someone named “Porky”. lol the article you have a link to is a really good article on how the VA is doing. the reporter seems to be on the vets’ side and does not say anything good about the VA. I think most will agree that this is more of the type of reporting we need. This might help us more by having the VA in the spotlight.
        Thanks again for the link, Porky.

      • That article and reporter in the New York Post hit a home run and hit the nail on the head about the the Choice program and Secretary McDonald, the VA and its unions!!!, , DAV, VVA and the traditional veterans groups are against privitization and actually against the liberal useage of the choice card as well

        They fear loss of their power and jobs if there was privatization or choice byf veterans All one has to do is look at DAV’s most recent survey which is rigged to get the answers they want VVA has never done a survey but they bashed Concerned Veterans of America and their survey telling people that Conserned Veterans of America is backed by the Kosh brothers and conservative republicans who want to privatize the VA and befit from privatization Well I say who cares as the private sector is all based on competition. There are millions of providers that veterans would be abel to go to and choose from . VVA and traditional VA groups bash Concerned Veterans of America ss they secretly dont want any kind of privatization as they would lose their own jobs and organizational power and membership If there are complaints many of them they see that as gaining members . These traditional veterans organizations have never even done a survey or poll !! If down like DAV( it was not an independent poll or survey but stacked to get the answers they want) its stacked – See DAV survey online or write them for it

        In fact traditional veterans groups like VVA have abandoned any input from members in the chapters and still excuse me kiss the VAMC rear ends They say nothing negative in public about the VA basically or VA health care nor are willing to demonstrate We were told by our Commander of our VVApost that we are here to help veterans but we cant politicize . It is the constitutional right of everyone on their own to write or call their congressmen !! VVA will tell you that is left u to one state director and a full time director of legislative policy and legislation to do and to make such policy This is the star of our traditional veterans groups

        I worked in the independent living movement for persons with disabilities and policy was done by direct independent polling and survey very often of oiur consumers We taught advocacy training on what and hot to contact ones legislator Advocacy groups for disabled people used picketing and protests that were organized I have not seen any of this by traditional vet yarns groups What did we loose from the marches and protests , etc of the 60-70s to change this country !!??

        Lee Horowitz, M.Ed, CAGS
        US Navy – Disabled Vietnam Era Veteran
        Vetrans Advocate/Veterans Civil Rights Advocate

        It is time to take back veterans civil rights via advocacy and protests. marches, etc on theVA, our government and our legislators offices

  20. Great! We go from on Mickey Mouse run organization to another Mickey Mouse run organization. SNAFU anyone? Why not go with Jeff Dunham’s puppet Walter? “Welcome to the VA, get your meds and get out.”

    Disney is a corporation built on fantasy. Guess that is a good fit for the VA, they don’t like reality either.

  21. Ben, so many thanks for the McDonald pic. I’ve been cracking up all day about it. Reminds me of when Sinbad, the comedian, was in Tops In Blue and they had to wear the Disney cap with ears. There were a few pissed off grown men over that one.

  22. Several years ago, while working in a industry and for a company that was dependent on satisfying customers, executives and employees alike were handpicked to attend the Disney Academy – two weeks training in Orlando where Disney trained their new employees.

    I must say I was very skeptical when I was first told of it. However, my attitude soon changed and it’s had life-long lingering impacts. The training was sensational and clearly directed at the customer.

    I can say from personal experience and seeing the difference it made with other employees of my company who attended with me, this training can only make the VA more veteran friendly. It certainly can’t hurt. The VA is so anti-veteran friendly now that something really needs to be done.

    While I’m not a fan of the VA or Sec McDonald, I do give kudos to him for doing something out of the box and necessary. Only time will tell if it works but it’s better than just continuing without trying to improve a broken system.

  23. 02/20/2015

    Dear Benjamin Krause,

    Good work!

    “McDonald stated, “We want the veterans’ experience with the VA to be as good as the best private sector experiences.” He went on, “Like if you took your family to Disney.” Some speculate the Disney model might be behind the current push for McDonald’s I CARE accountability program.”

    Actor/CA Gov./President Ronald Reagan was at the beginning of the Disney’s push and a few others [Army Ambulance Drivers]—now we are dealing with this mentality—-that opiates fail to “fix.”

    How does the VA [as a whole—highlighting the Legal Department] continue the illusion [the art of deception] to remain unbroken?

    Give the veterans Memories of the past.

    In reality, Bob is doing the best he can with this Corrupted Organization [one man cannot bring down this out of control organization]—his intentions are sincere [at face value].

    The question is can the Veterans waste any more time on trusting the leadership [as a whole]?

    As murders [the inertia in the system] and “accidental deaths” and abuses occur at the VA Hospitals—the proposed Hospital Closures—reduction of staff [600?], etc… This could only spell out one thing…a 911 WTC—a collapse of the system. Look at the Ohio, PA, any of the States in the Rust Bucket for an example of closures [industry Steel & Manufacturing] and what leadership did over those years. Get with Former Rep. Dennis John Kucinich he can tell about Cleveland, Ohio and even Former Senator/Gov. OH George Victor Voinovich; however Rep. James Traficant is now unable to talk 09/27/14 [a tractor landed on him].

    Is it possible? The Collapse is highly likely if Washington DC continues with little oversight as the legislatures/lawmakers have done over the decades. We have seen a few Senators leave office already.

    Letting the VA candy-coat it with Disney is a disservice [especially to the Unions & their members that have been silent in this “5 alarm fire”].

    Maybe the VA should be handing out M&Ms—they are in Tomah Wisconsin!

    Sincerely,

    Don Karg

  24. Using the “Money, Power, or Both” theory I developed in determining motivation, Disneyization brings to the forefront other areas of interest. Being a private sector profit driven company, one has to examine why they’d even take on large scale issue such as the VA.

    It was November 2014 when Disney began a veterans workshop endorsed by Michelle Obama. This “Veterans Institute” is currently holding training programs to private sector companies featuring advantages of hiring of veterans.

    It’s just a short leap to look at tax benefits and federal funding initiatives in which Disney is the beneficiary. It’s not surprising, then, Disney would seek more financial rewards for taking on the entire Veterans Administration. Getting the VA funding would not only mean more money but also much more power.

    But Disney’s company isn’t doing this Work for Hero’s program alone. They teamed up with USAA, another fortune 500 company, whose hands are already deep into the wallets of military and veterans life insurance and other monetary ventures.

    With Disney having less than 150,000 employees which are high tax and low in government funding, a shift to low tax and higher funding becomes a motive. Tapping into the funding wheel is a wise move for Disney. Veteran money becomes a desirable focus and puts the company into the noble limelight. It also is low risk by training people to hire, help, or work with veterans.

    Yet, one must ask themselves why the VA can’t piggy back the VA program? Is the VA so inept that it can’t run its own program with guidance from Disney. Must veteran dollars be allocated to a company whose primary focus is profits in the private sector?

    With a win, win, win, win situation for Disney. With endorsements from not only the Whitehouse, but also McDonald, it’s looking like Disney will obtain the motivation model of Money, Power, or Both.

    • I hear ya. There are some really good orgs helping veteran but there are an awful lot of companies and orgs using the veterans namesake to make billions for themselves!!

  25. When you go to Disneyland you leave smiling and satisfied knowing you visited a “Mickey Mouse” organization!

    When you go to the VA you leave frustrated and agitated knowing you visited a
    “Mickey Mouse” organization!

    • This borders on the absurd. What are they thinking? What a bunch of hooey!!! This isn’t going to work any better than sending all the Veterans to Disneyland or Disneyworld. What is needed is LEADERSHIP and a leader that will make CHANGES, not get some company doing some hocus pocus kind of training. This is ridiculous. I am sick of this. They won’t pay valid claims, they have incompetent claims examiners, the doctors are lousy and they continue to make stupid decisions. Why is it they are so incompetent? Because they don’t have someone that will go in there and make needed changes and if someone needs to be fired, fire them, stop paying them and let the personnel department and the legal department take care of the rest. Marginal is proficient is the way it works at the VA. They are just marking time until they can retire is the way things work at the VA. I am sick and tired of hearing about problems at the VA and them not being fixed and no one being fired. I could care less about the politics of firing someone. I would fire the person and everyone would know. I would seek to make changes that would benefit Veterans instead of blowing smoke up their keesters with Disney. It is total crap that they think this is supposed to work. Do they have stock in Disney or what? This is just a band aid and a piss poor one at that. The main problem is claims. Fix that serious problem and then work on the others. I believe the motto of the VA right now is: Deny, Deny, Deny, then Deny Again. It takes many multiple claims submitted to only be denied. This is ridiculous. It isn’t about how fast you do the digitization of the medical records, it’s about accuracy. Yes, scan them, but make sure that the claims submitted are accurately reviewed and fairly adjudicated. The appeals are skyrocketing because it is about speed and getting the backlog done. We would rather wait a little longer to get the correct disability rating rather just denying them to reduce the backlog. This is a SERIOUS problem and people have waited for years and that is not right. There are companies that can help review the files and help with determinations, but instead Disney comes in to change their image. What will change the image will be getting the claims right so people don’t have to constantly appeal them. That’s what will work so that’s what needs to be done. GET WITH THE PROGRAM.VA..

  26. Should veterans start calling Secretary McDonald – Secretary McDonald Duck?? I am an USAF vet 1966-1970. If the base commander ran Kadena AFB like Disney World in the 60’s or even today no one would be laughing. I currently am going to the VA for injuries sustained while serving in the Air Force and they put me on an exercise program. They keep lying to me about my records. The scheduling clerk has complete access to my full records – that I don’t understand. I bring in MRI reports and x-rays taken by my private heath care provider and they are passed around the VA to all the scheduling clerks and it winds up in the trash. When I ask for help they put me on the ‘MOVE’ program and give me a foot peddler and say here ya go try that and come back in 6 mo. My back, hips and knees are trash and they tried therapy on my back and when that didn’t work they sent me to a 2 hour class and sent me on my way. If it wasn’t for my service officer I’d be crippled today. I still have a long way to go. I had one knee replaced and the other knee also is trash. I have be trying to get the help I need from the VA for 6 years now. On and on and on. I feel like the enemy.

    • The problem I have is there current program will work and has for years. If it is followed. There Is no room for a bonus for doing a job you accepted. Is the purpose of the Disney training just a way to pacify Vets that have had enough? Because now they are starting to get lawyers?

  27. I can see many reasons why the VA would want to emulate Disney. Disney Customer Service is unparalleled.

    In the book 7 Keys to the Magic Kingdom the question is asked, “who is your competition”? Anyone that the customer compares you to! That is a much broader definition than just the industry that you operate in.

    It is wise to look for best management practices across all industries. Disney is focused on providing an enjoyable experience.

    When I went to the VA Hospital in Loma Linda, CA for the first time the people were so friendly I went back outside to look at the sign and make sure I was in the right place!

    Just because the “scholar” quoted in the article cannot see past the rides does not mean that Disney is not a business model to be followed.

    I did not see anywhere in the article where the VA said they were going to wear costumes or act like fools. Here is a quote of what McDonald did say, “We want the veterans’ experience with the VA to be as good as the best private sector experiences.” Who can argue with that?

    The truth of this article sounds to me like the VA is just putting an identifying company with practices that they were already doing. Patient centered care. This is the concept of the Dr’s rotating from different sections to visit with patients instead of them wandering around trying to find their next appointment. Booking multiple appointments on the same day. Taking the patients time into consideration.

    Disney sets up listening posts and empowers their people to make their experience memorable. Instilling the patient centered care model is in line with this concept as well.

    The reason Disney would offer to help for free is the positive publicity adds more to their good will than monetary compensation could.

    This is how all VA’s should be ran.

    Nothing new to see here, just media trying to stir up trouble.

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