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    Posted July 24, 2014 by
    Park Falls, Wisconsin

    Grassroots Movement to Improve VA

    The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has recently come under fire for not meeting the needs of veterans. The acting Secretary is now asking for $17.6 billion in additional funding in part to hire 10,000 more clinical staff. Questions have been raised whether throwing more money at the problem will fix it. A Wisconsin veteran, based on her personal experiences and discussions with other combat veterans, came up with an idea to overhaul VA hiring procedures in order to improve services without an impact to the VA’s budget.

    Brooke Anderson served four years as a nurse in the U.S. Air Force and spent two tours caring for combat soldiers at the beginning of Iraqi Freedom. She is currently working as a Master’s-prepared Clinical Nurse Specialist in Quality and Safety while going to school for her Doctorate in Nursing Leadership. Mrs. Anderson started her nursing career as a staff nurse in the VA system before entering the Air Force and recently sought employment in the VA system again. While going through the VA hiring process, she learned how little being a veteran means for professionals when it comes to getting hired, and how the non-veterans involved in the hiring process did not understand or appreciate military experience. She realized that the lack of veterans, especially combat and disabled veterans, in clinical, professional, and management positions can impact how services are provided. In her words: “They cannot understand our needs, our language, or our demeanor.” Discussing this issue with fellow veterans, the idea for a grass roots movement to change the VA’s hiring procedures evolved.

    Mrs. Anderson has now taken on the mission of getting legislation passed to require the Department of Veterans Affairs to hire combat and disabled veterans, whenever possible, to care for veterans. Although her focus has been on combat veterans due to the high number with undiagnosed disabilities, she also strongly supports incorporating veterans with diagnosed disabilities into the hiring process as well. A diverse group of veteran leaders are needed if substantial changes to the current system are going to occur. She has written a letter and sent it to her legislators. This letter has now been sent to Veterans groups and posted on a new Facebook page “Require the VA to Hire Combat Veterans” (https://www.facebook.com/hirecombatvets). The Facebook page also has links to a MoveOn.Org petition and directories for contacting Senators and Representatives. For this mission to succeed, it is time for other veterans, as well as their families and friends, to join the movement by signing the petition and contacting their Senators and Representatives.
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