Whistle Blower - GHA's Friend & Colleague Lt. Col. Ted Blickwedel
HERE IS THE LINK TO NBC NIGHTLY on the problem with caring for our veterans.
The link also includes the web article, in addition to the broadcast, which provides more information and details.
If you have problems with the link, you can call NBC News for assistance at the phone number listed below, or go to their website (https://www.nbcnews.com) to get access to the broadcast.
Again, please contact NBC News with your response about the interview and/or the issues presented, in order to raise awareness and promote action to resolve these concerns. Written comments regarding the broadcast are more effective and can be submitted to the email and social media contacts noted below. Suggested remarks are offered at the bottom of this email that you may want to use in your comments, which address the issues and main points of the broadcast.
Further, it would be extremely helpful if you could forward this email to as many people as you can, asking them to give feedback about the interview to the network via the contact information provided below, so these issues get maximum exposure and attention.
NBC Nightly News: email@example.com
NBC News Digital (NBCNews.com Website): firstname.lastname@example.org;
https://www.nbcnews.com/pages/contact-us (for specific email addresses)
In addition to contacting NBC News Group entities through NBC’s own portals, viewers and readers can further submit comments to NBC News Group entities via their social media platforms listed below. This will help tremendously to generate more widespread public awareness.
212-664-3499 (NBC Nightly News)
Also, contacting the White House, your U.S. Senators and Congresspersons requesting that they take corrective action to resolve this would be very beneficial (i.e. Decrease the VET Center Program’s Clinical Visit Count Mandate and Quantity-Focused Metrics to an acceptable level with a Greater Emphasis on Quality Care Standards and Counselor Well-Being, and Allocate Additional Funding so More Counselors can be Hired as soon as possible, etc.).
For your convenience, written responses you can paraphrase in your own words are provided below:
- The clinical visit count and production mandates instituted by the VET Center Program is excessive and needs to be curtailed so that the health, well-being, and morale of counselors does not continue to be negatively impacted; which has degraded their ability to provide quality care to veterans and their families, and is causing a high counselor turnover rate. U.S. Senators and Congresspersons need to be more engaged to resolve this problem. Veterans and those who care for them deserve better than this.
- Our veterans are not getting the best treatment services they deserve since the VET Center Program is not looking out for the welfare of their counselors who are burning out due to the unreasonable clinical productivity standards and additional administrative duties being placed on them by management. This needs to be corrected immediately so that quality care for veterans and their families does not continue to be compromised. Additionally, VA/VET Center Program management must be held accountable for threats and retaliation against employees who have spoken up to address these issues.
- The consequence of the VET Center Program’s oppressive clinical production metrics and excessive administrative workload policies being placed on counselors, combined with a shortage of clinicians and high caseloads; prevent veterans from getting adequate services they deserve, and especially puts suicidal veterans at higher risk. Therefore, it is imperative that the clinical production standards be reduced to more reasonable levels with more of a focus on quality care and counselor welfare, rather than emphasizing the achievement of excessive quantitative production numbers which serve the bureaucratic system instead of the veterans we our here to help.
- More funding from Congress for the VET Center Program is desperately needed so more counselors can be hired as soon as possible to meet the demand for services and decrease the high caseloads. This will help ensure quality of care for veterans and the well-being of clinicians is maintained and not compromised.
- If the clinical productivity standards in the VET Center Program are not reduced, the health and well-being of counselors will continue to suffer which will impede their ability to deliver quality care, and this will result in veterans and their families not receiving adequate services which they deserve. This should not be happening to our veterans and the counselors who care for them, and the VA/VET Center Program must be held accountable to correct this.
- The clinical productivity and administrative expectations being forced on counselors by the VET Center Program leadership is not in compliance with the NASW Standards for Social Work Practice in Health Care Settings, and these performance standards exceed what research shows to be harmful to both clinicians and quality of care. This is unethical and must be rectified to avoid further harm being done to clinical staff, which also adversely impacts services for veterans and their families.
Your support on this very important issue is greatly appreciated. Thank you for anything you can do. I will keep you posted on any further developments.
Ted Blickwedel, LICSW
LtCol, USMC, Retired
Former VA/VET Center Counselor