by Elana Duffy
Last Friday was a busy day for VA Secretary Shulkin: New legislation for enhanced whistleblower protections and shortened investigative and termination procedures for VA employees was signed into effect, indicating a welcome change in administrative practices to ensure improved quality of service through ensuring the right people with the right priorities are in the right positions.
Following the signature, Secretary Shulkin spoke to the press on issues beyond the bill, hinting at his new direction for VA healthcare. It was during this impromptu presser that Shulkin uttered the words “Our system incentivizes disability, when our system should be incentivizing health and well-being."Read more
by Elana Duffy
Secretary Shulkin and his team at the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) have been busy. From recent bills passed to upgrade Bad Paper Discharges to the extension of the VA Choice Program, VA is certainly not sitting still.
These were easy wins. Expanded access to mental health care, reducing mental health stigma with the re-evaluation of behavioral discharges for those diagnosed with PTSD, and extending Choice were no-brainers. That these wins were easy does not diminish their value; these programs and policies were needed victories. But they were easy upgrades, like downloading the latest smartphone operating system to improve performance: small changes with moderate impact.
So now I would like to see VA not just upgrade the operating system but rewire the network. I want them to take on a challenge that isn’t so easy, but one that attacks a root condition so time and money spent implementing yields huge results.
by Jeremy Warneke
Who or what is a United States military veteran? If you’re a veteran, you may know the answer or think you know. But do you?
According to a 2012 Congressional Research Service Report, “a veteran is defined as a ‘person who served in the active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable.’”
I didn’t always know that.
As Ted Puntillo, director of Veteran Services for Solano County, California, said in 2013, “Some people with an honorable discharge do not think they are a veteran because they only served for two years, did not serve in combat or were not injured in the service. Women and people who served honorably in the National Guard and Reserves are often unsure of their status."Read more
by William Michael Day
In March 2017, William Michael Day was denied life insurance because of his PTSD diagnosis. He began asking his friends if they've had similar experiences, and he took it upon himself to research the situation to examine the legality and consequences of when veterans like himself are denied life insurance because of PTSD or other diagnoses. The result is a thoughtful exploration of how mental health and insurance intersect, and the real-life consequences of those intersections for veterans and their families.
by Dan Gorman
I’m a combat veteran who receives medical services from the VA here in Manhattan. For a long time, I avoided going because I felt that I wasn’t injured enough to warrant care, or at least not in the same way or degree that some of our more traumatized brethren are. But after battling frequent migraines and a bad back for the last ten years, I decided to reengage and see if there were any treatments that may help.
My first impression was that, by and large, the folks at the VA do greatly care about their patients and clients. Of course there are outliers, but the overall care is there. Following that, I quickly realized that this is a large, sluggish system that is working on old models of providing services and is woefully underequipped to be responsive and flexible—two traits the veteran community deserves.Read more
In April 2016, the NYC Veterans Alliance partnered with WLIW21 on their Veterans Coming Home series. Many of our veteran and civilian members are featured in frank discussions of the divide that exists between those who have served in the military since 2001, and those who haven't--and what we can do better to bridge that divide. WLIW21 has now released the finished videos. Take a look:Read more
by Michael Abramovich
On Sunday I participated in the VEThack march to end veteran suicide for my second year in the row. This march was going on right around the NYC Veterans Alliance’s first birthday (also my one year anniversary of being an Alliance member). The march began at Columbus Circle as last year and the route was 3.6 miles and ended at the NYPD’s 20th Precinct HQ where there was a BBQ, followed by a Pub Crawl.
Overall I feel the Vethack march was well organized and it was great chance to build stronger bonds with NYC area veteran community. The weather was beautiful and I was in great company of our awesome NYC veteran family. I was honored to wear my NYC Veterans Alliance t-shirt and continue raising visibility for an organization that does so much for our NYC veterans on the local level. The NYPD being there to assist with traffic control and their support was very welcome. I’m very thankful for the 20th’ Precinct’s hospitality and their company.Read more
On September 17, 2016, the NYC Veterans Alliance joined VEThack, GORuck, and many other organizations as a partner in this annual event that unites our community in focusing attention on ending veteran suicide.
View our collection of member photos from this memorable day:Read more
by Bob Raphael
I encountered my first Veteran Suicide in 1970 when my combat partner, Butch, rode his Harley off a cliff in upstate New York. At his graveside, his young wife screamed at me: "You were his best friend, where the fuck were you?" It was less a question than a pointed accusation.
Not a day goes by that I do not see my Team RWB friends do 22 push-ups to bring awareness to the alarming rate and number of SUICIDES by VETERANS. A new study by the Department of Veterans Affairs using a more detailed methodology has placed the "number" at an average of 20 per day and has more clearly detailed the general demographics behind this number—highlighting frightening increases in female Veterans and once again noting that the majority of SUICIDES are MEN OVER 50.Read more
On April 21, the NYC Veterans Alliance presented testimony before the NYC Council Committee on Veterans on proposed Resolution 579-A calling on Congress to pass and the President to sign the Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015. We were the only organization other than the Vietnam Veterans of America to present testimony at this hearing, and the testimony itself was followed by an informative, in-depth discussion of the toxic exposures of Vietnam, Desert Storm, and OEF/OIF veterans.Read more