Stressed out employees referred to the Employee Assistance Program drug use were told they must sign an authorization for VA to access their medical records last month.
In an email, Secretary Robert Wilkie, known as an anti-medical marijuana official, reminded his employees of the agency’s zero-tolerance stance on illegal drug use, “It is a condition of employment for all employees to refrain from using illegal drugs on and off duty.”
Employees who participate in the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to combat drug use issues or following an admission of illegal drug use must sign away their right to privacy. This is a curious requirement since use of the program is supposed to be confidential, at least for those not admitting to illegal drug use.
According to the Office of Personnel Management:
EAP is a voluntary, confidential program that helps employees (including management) work through various life challenges that may adversely affect job performance, health, and personal well-being to optimize an organization’s success. EAP services include assessments, counseling, and referrals for additional services to employees with personal and/or work-related concerns, such as stress, financial issues, legal issues, family problems, office conflicts, and alcohol and substance use disorders. EAPs also often work with management and supervisors providing advanced planning for situations, such as organizational changes, legal considerations, emergency planning, and response to unique traumatic events.
A little-known fact about VA bargaining unit employees is that corrective actions, at least in the first instance, will be held in abeyance while the employee participates in the program. Most VA locations make use of third-party contractors to provide the counseling and care services used through this program.
I guess if I had to deal with all the corruption many VA employees deal with on a regular basis, I would probably make use of this program… at least a few times.
Now, with Operation Golden Flow (OGF) in full swing, veterans making use of medical marijuana while at work may come under additional scrutiny using marijuana to treat PTSD or pain instead of more addictive opioids like oxycodone – – but hey, at least the heroine byproduct is legal, right Jeff Sessions?
As far as OGF, I am kidding. There is no formalized Operation Golden Flow, which is what we called pee testing when I was in the USAF.
Btw, since Wilkie looks like he is here to stay, anyone interesting in coming up with some charactures of him with his watchdog Peter O’Rourke? Rumor has it O’Rourke is posted right outside his office on the 10th floor to see who comes and goes.
It reminds me of a few oldies I did a while back.
Wilkie – Operation Golden Flow
Here is the full email:
Subject: Mandatory Authorization Form for Drug Testing and Employee Assistance Program Participation for Illegal Drug Use