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Ask a Vet
Author: TriSec    Date: 08/07/2018 11:10:49

Good Morning.

Well, Mr. Trump has actually followed through on one of his campaign promises regarding veterans. There's a sew 24/7 hotline available for veterans needing help through the V.A. to call and try to resolve issues. Let's see how that's working out.

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised veterans a 24-hour hotline that would consolidate the various national help lines and call centers to help veterans. Two years later, the hotline is up and running, but a Sunday evening report by the Washington Post detailed the bureaucratic hell veterans looking for help often find.

The staffers tasked with answering the phones are often helpless to solve the callers’ problems, per the Post:

    To Mary, so many of the problems felt fixable, if only they had the powers, or permission, to fix them.

    “There was this man,” she said as she waited for the phone to ring again. “And he just wanted a seat for his wheelchair. He said, ‘I don’t want a new wheelchair. I don’t want pain medication. I just want a seat that doesn’t pinch me and hurt me.

    “And he had been trying for seven months, and he couldn’t get it. I hate that. Those are the ones you want to say, ‘All right, give me your address, and I’ll send you a seat.’ ”

Agents field a wide range of problems, from questions about medical bills and health issues to psychological trauma and sexual assault. But staffers told the paper they’re often unable to do much for callers beyond typing out their complaints and routing them to different departments across the country:

    “We’re going to try to get you some help,” Mary said to the man on her line now, an Air Force veteran who had erroneously received a bill for $350.18. He did not have $350.18.

    But still, she could not make the $350.18 bill go away.

    She could not see why it was sent. She could not access benefits or medical records, even with the man’s permission. She wasn’t allowed to call his provider. All she could do was type his problem and send it to a different team in a different place that would respond in approximately 60 business days, if it responded on time.

Still, perhaps most bizarrely, some veterans have called the hotline just want to let Trump know he’s doing a great job:

    Some veterans have become hotline evangelists, spreading the good news about Trump’s idea in private Facebook groups where veterans gather by the thousands to swap tips on navigating VA. The agency said 609 people have called to compliment the hotline’s performance.

    Now so many veterans called thinking they were reaching 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue that Mary had the White House switchboard number memorized. The callers wanted to tell “my boy Donald” he was doing a great job. They wanted to say they liked Mr. Robert Wilkie. They wanted to know whether Mary could run down the hall to see if the Omaha steaks they had mailed to the president had arrived.

What’s clear is that there are no small number of people in this country who need help. But the idea that Trump’s initiatives will be effective or helpful in any real way is a collective delusion.

I'm glad that has worked out so well. But being a longtime CSR myself, a lot of times we're just there so people can vent. 99.9% of the time, those of us on the phone have no real power to actually do anything. So it's just more window-dressing on the crumbling facade.

Moving on to the fine state of Atlanta, we once again find enemies of the United States whining about their flag. The city of Alpharetta has taken the unprecedented move of banning confederate flags from a veteran's memorial parade. Naturally, there's a backlash. But you know my opinion. Next time there's a WWII parade, let's have a swastika and a rising sun included. I'm sure somebody can call it part of their "heritage", just like these southern traitors do.

ALPHARETTA, Ga. - The Sons of Confederate Veterans is criticizing a decision that banned their group from flying the Confederate battle flag in a weekend parade in Alpharetta. The decision by city officials has sparked controversy.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans group said the Confederate flag is part of their heritage and the heritage of Confederate veterans. The city, however, said the flag is too divisive.

The Old Soldiers Parade originally was dedicated to soldiers of the Civil War, but it evolved into a tribute to all veterans.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans have always participated, but this year, members were told to leave their Confederate battle flags home.

In a letter to the organization, an official said the city would maintain its decision to not allow the Confederate battle flag in the parade.

The letter stated, “The flag is a symbol that has divided individuals, populations and entire communities.”

The group fired back, calling the city's decision “political correctness and an attack on our heritage and first amendment rights.”

“It seems like they're trying to ban what people can think," community member Shannon Roberts said.

Roberts said the city was wrong to ban the Confederate flag in a parade that, in part, is supposed to honor Confederate soldiers.

“It depends on how you look at it. Some people look at and see all these bad things, and then some look at it from a different angle,” Roberts said.

While the city banned flying the flag in the parade, pictures posted on Twitter showed many parade watchers clutching their own flags.

Melissa Sullivan believes allowing the flag to be flown in the parade is going too far.

“I understand where people are coming from, but sometimes we have to overlook some of our own beliefs to make a peaceful world, right?” Sullivan said.

Derrick Jennings said Alpharetta made right decision on banning the Confederate flag.

When asked if he felt the flag belonged in the parade, Jennings responded, “No. It's going to be a lot of negative conspiracies to the town."

And veering into the bizarre today to end our roundup. Former Senator, Astronaut, and Marine John Glenn passed from this earth back in December of 2016. He was always going to be buried at Arlington National, but these things take time...and he was not interred at his final resting place until April of 2017. Which does mean Mr. Glenn's remains were in storage for a while at Dover AFB.

Naturally, there is controversy involved. There were accusations of disrespectful treatment of those remains. After a lengthy investigation, it appears that there may have been an "unprofessional" incident with no malicious intent. You decide.

DOVER, Del. — A lengthy investigation by Air Force officials has concluded that the remains of astronaut and former U.S. Sen. John Glenn were not treated disrespectfully at the Dover Air Force Base mortuary before he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery last year.

The Air Force launched a probe in May 2017 amid concerns that inspectors visiting the facility had been invited to look at Glenn's remains, which they declined to do.

The heavily redacted report found that Glenn's remains were treated with dignity, but it also cited unrelated incidents involving questionable behavior by the former mortuary chief, William Zwicharowski.

Zwicharowski, who retired earlier this year, told the Associated Press last year that Glenn's remains were treated with "impeccable care," and that the invitation to inspectors was "solely professional." Repeated attempts to contact him for comment on the report were unsuccessful.

Although an investigating officer concluded that Zwicharowski's invitation to view Glenn's body was inappropriate, it did not result in any disrespectful behavior.

"The investigating officer interviewed everyone involved in Senator Glenn's care, under oath; all testified that Senator Glenn's remains were treated with dignity and respect while at Dover," stated the report, which is dated November 2017 but was not made publicly available until several days ago.

The report also found no systemic issues in Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations, headquartered at the Delaware military facility, or with the manner in which human remains are treated.

It did find, however, a division between "back of the house" mortuary workers and AFMAO leadership. The rift dates back to 2008, when AFMAO was formed and assumed oversight of the mortuary, which previously had been part of the 436th Airlift Wing's Services Squadron.

"Rather than a systemic problem, the division seemed to be a result of personality conflicts between individual employees," the report stated.

The investigation appeared to place much of the blame for the rift on Zwicharowski, who was uniformly lauded for his technical skills but described by some people as difficult to work with and quick to try to assign blame to others if a problem arose.

"The investigation substantiated several allegations of inappropriate behavior by the employee," Ann Stefanek, Air Force chief of media operations, said in a prepared statement. "Earlier this spring, however, the employee retired before administrative action decisions had been made."

The report found, among other things, that Zwicharowski failed to promote appropriate employee-management relations by engaging in "insolent and insubordinate conduct toward his superiors and failing to carry out assigned work."

Now, the gentleman was an Obama-era appointee, so I'm not pinning this one on Mr. Trump. However...that kind of behaviour is encouraged and supported under the current administration. It doesn't take much for latent unprofessionalism to blossom in the correct environment.


18 comments (Latest Comment: 08/07/2018 20:21:39 by Raine)
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