Thursday, March 22, 2012
Friday, March 16, 2012
Over the past few weeks I have received a lot of mail from various people in pretty high positions in the Government and the military as well as in various business categories. I have noticed an alarming trend in many of these which is to ignore writing errors. Spelling has flown out the window; punctuation is so bad that in some cases it is almost impossible to know the intention of the writer; and often they change tense or subject within the same sentence. I know we all make occasional mistakes, but for the most part, these are a one-off error. One error in message can be overlooked, twenty such errors are just careless and to my mind disrespectful of the recipient.
I know from my many years as a writer and an advocate that to be able to write a good and coherent letter, regardless of whether it is in the form of an email or snail-mail, makes the best impact on the reader. When mistakes are made, sometimes glaring mistakes, it lowers the credibility of the writer. Years ago, before we had computers to do so much for us, we relied on a dictionary and our own skills from our school days. There was then some excuse for poor writing skills, as not everyone had the advantage of good schooling. However, there is little excuse now, as even the most rudimentary word processing program has a spell checker and some type of correction for correct syntax.
The point I am making here is that in communication with anyone, either at the VA, the DoD or your Congressman, good writing is essential if you wish to appear a competent caregiver. I understand that for some, dyslexia or English as a second language may be a problem. However, you should be able to find someone to proof read your mail before risking sending something which is full of errors of spelling and grammar.
I do attribute this, in part, to the amount of texting and chat room use, where people tend to ignore mistakes. However, I am not talking about these relaxed and social interactions. For a formal communication, much more care needs to be taken if you are going to appear credible. As valuable advocates for our Vets it is important we do all we can to make our point clearly and concisely.
Friday, March 9, 2012
- Caregiver support after-hours and on weekends is problematic. (In other words, if the FRC/RCC/CG Coordinator is not available, who do you call?) FRC’s are not responsible for after-hours support due to their patient load, and this program receives good reviews with the 25 FRC’s assigned to seriously wounded warriors and veterans.
- The onus is on the Caregiver to seek answers if dissatisfied with any aspect of care, which is very difficult when you’re exhausted and lost
- Peers are still the most trusted group to support other Caregivers (yep, we surely know that!)
- Clinical Retaliation/Repercussions often occur when Caregiver dissatisfaction is reported – which is often why it’s not reported
- Caregivers are frequently blocked from participation in the medical appts of their Vet, especially in emergency situations despite the change in law; some discussion centered on how to solve this with special identification, cards, or training, but this problem lingers as many of you have experienced
- Where is the Retirement Ceremony for our medically discharged troops? Too many casually receive a flag, a pin, and a form letter for their service. This was viewed as a fixable issue and monthly retirement ceremonies were discussed. Hopefully this will occur soon and retroactively.
- Fiduciary issues are often confusing due to the State vs Federal sovereign issues (who’s in charge by law) and improved coordination of the various agencies would assist in accurate information about earned benefits.
- Questions regarding Guardian or Incompetency ratings may be resolved by the local Surrogate Court (seek legal assistance on these complexities)
- If your Vet has a 10% or more disability rating and an Honorable Discharge, they are entitled to Vocational Rehab (a VBA Benefit) and the entitlement amount is based on the service-connected needs.
- Volunteer work or some part-time work earning up to $850 annually does not effect your SSDI payments (Social Security payments)
- Reduced work tolerance does not preclude receiving the full subsistence disability payment (contact the VBA for more information)
- For a Vet needing a Job Coach, this may be requested from Voc Rehab
- The MEB/PEBLO (medical evaluations) are being evaluated for three criteria: (1) Is the rating fair?, (2) Is it timely?, and (3) Is it Sevice-Member centric. There is a tension here: the two-part evaluation permits for appeals if there is a disagreement by the Vet, but it does incur additional time; further study is ongoing at DoD.
- RCC’s (Recovery Care Coordinators) are now assigned to 400 Active Duty warriors.
- Additional RCC’s will be trained, beginning this Sunday, March 11th, and there is still poor awareness of RCC assignments.
A holistic or comprehensive approach is needed to address thorny problems that still occur after 10 years of war, and the bigger picture of setting expectations for warriors and Caregivers to understand their benefits, financial options, educational options, employability and more is an ongoing task for those training RCC’s. Caregiver involvement is critical and recognized by this group, while improvements in the TAP transition program is expected to improve knowledge about transition.