Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Sloan Gibson, laid the smack down on all VA employees over failures to go the extra mile by using common sense to help a vet. Last week, the media hit VA hard over refusal to help a veteran with a broken foot.
The operator at the Seattle VA told the veteran to call 911 to get help into the facility despite literally parking on the ambulance ramp outside the facility doors just a few feet away. The veteran, a 63-year old trucker with a broken foot, was demoralized when he called 911 to seek help from city firemen to help him move just a few feet into the facility.
The veteran was in tears on the phone call, and VA has since recanted its hardball approach to the issue initially claiming they did the right thing. They did not. The employees were behaving like brazen a@@holes refusing to help the same veterans who justify their job.
Shame on them. I hope they are either fired or forced to wear a scarlet “A” for a@@hole instead of a name badge for the duration of VA employment.
DOWNLOAD PDF: Deputy Secretary Sloan email scolding to VA employees
A MESSAGE FROM THE DEPUTY SECRETARY
Recently, an elderly Veteran drove himself to a VA medical center (VAMC) with a broken foot. After parking his car, he called the VAMC to ask for help getting from his car to the emergency room. Instead of sending someone out with a wheelchair, the person taking the call advised the Veteran to call 911, which the Veteran did. The local fire department then responded, helping the Veteran from the parking lot into the hospital.
We can all see now how wrong it was for this Veteran to be referred elsewhere for the little help he needed. I am certain all of us would have freely offered that help had we been there and understood the situation; however, sometimes we get so focused on following what we believe to be policy and procedure, limiting what we can and cannot do, that we lose sight of the Veterans we are committed to serving.
I am asking that we all take this as a learning opportunity—that we all think a little harder about our I-CARE values (Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence) and the customer experience we want every Veteran to have, every time. These core values and the basic principles of doing the right thing for Veterans, taking ownership, and being good stewards of taxpayer dollars should guide our day-to-day decisions. This is the essence of what we mean when we talk about “MyVA.” Leaving Veterans in our parking lot for others to rescue is not who we are, and not who the American people expect us to be.
Let us be good stewards of the public trust and the kind, helpful, sensible, and compassionate human beings Veterans deserve.
Sloan D. Gibson