Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Ringing phone reality and my vet care

As much as care for veterans and problems with it get in the news it bothers me that in my experience am still facing the most stunning problem to me in terms of access to care, which is hearing a phone ring, and ring, and ring...until you give up.

At least in the past I remember getting to an answering machine, and waiting days for a callback. That didn't even happen this time this morning.

Not someone who wants to share lots as it is my personal life and medical information is very personal but thought could talk about some things related to my experience with care through US Department of Veterans Affairs. And very much appreciate that it is there and like that changes are being made but just this morning? I made some calls and once past the auto-answer, trying to get to a person found that the phone rang, and rang, and rang, until I gave up.

But I know am looking at a peak time so will try again later as you learn strategies and the basic answer I think is, there aren't enough people available to handle the phones. Why aren't there? Because I believe the bureaucratic system in place refuses to set up a working system so that phone lines have enough people. Which is my opinion.

There ARE more options for contact though like online which are being developed but if you're a veteran in crisis? At least you repeatedly get the advice which works which is to call 911. Yup. New message with the recorded voice after the auto-answer, I think, as do notice now after the recommendation if in crisis is to call a suicide crisis line, if you are suicidal, which thankfully I don't need but I fear if I did, would I get a ring, and ring, and ring? I don't trust that I would not. I think that's new. Sadly the need is there. I'm not so sure about the support. But I am not in a position to check, thankfully. The problem with getting a human being to answer at the VA is bizarre to me.

Have debated talking more about what I see as problems with veterans care, and having been in a VA facility in the past, was lucky enough to have my curiosity satisfied somewhat, as I heard a phone ring, in an office, of a VA staffer who was really good, but overworked in my opinion. The staffer was not in the office. I heard the phone ring, and ring, and ring, until it stopped. That person, back then as was over two years ago, probably went to an answering machine.

But it was weird seeing the reality and understanding why. Just were not enough people for that phone line. The person to whom it went probably should not have been answering directly as was a counselor who needed to be working all the time with veterans. To me is a wacky system.

May talk more about the subject and what I see as the primary problem rarely discussed properly with the VA system now in place. But there is a debate with myself and a simple reason to fear talking too much as really believe could impact my care.

To me the system in place makes it very hard to talk against it. The ability for retaliation against veterans is real, and there is very little help and HUGE hurdles to get over if you are wronged. The system is definitely setup to make it hard for veterans like myself to raise the alarm. And reality is for those who need it, the VA care that you can get DOES help immensely.

I greatly value the care I receive through the VA, and hesitate to mess that up. But this post should be ok, I think.

And to update as have edited this piece a bit, did call later and promptly got to a person which is great! But to me is a lot about technique, experience as timing is important. And yeah keep trying.

James Harris

Monday, August 15, 2016

Our grand national tolerance

The United States of America has faced some serious challenges, like emerging as an independent nation after the bold declaration that founded it, which required a fierce war of independence, and also surviving a bid to destroy it by states seceding from it, which was sort of the opposite, as the American Civil War was about inflicting death to bind, while the American Revolutionary War was about enduring death to escape.

"...give me liberty or give me death!" -- Patrick Henry

Both events had people who really thought they were bad ideas. Not all colonists wanted independence from the British Empire. They were loyal citizens to it, and guess what? Can we say they were wrong? Our nation's founding citizens were mostly traitors to their nation of birth--not all were British--hellbent on starting a new nation, and thank God they succeeded and we get to continue the freedoms for which they fought, and many died, to have.

And when some time had passed and some decided the United States of America was no longer a good idea, were they wrong? How do we know? Nonetheless they were defeated in a war that forever changed the nation and the world as it introduced modern battle field techniques and ruthless war. The immensity of the slaughter can be lost on people today and hard to grasp, though later wars would greatly magnify it, peeking with World War II.

Flags have become extraordinary symbols, and for nations can help exemplify.

Our American flag has stood against the challenges to the life of the nation and emerged triumphant on the battlefield.

That fact is definitive for so many lives and maybe taken for granted by many Americans, though they might deny it, as some would rather fly a defeated flag in a nation that is very tolerant of dissent.

Wishing the United States of America were no longer here is not something I think most would display proudly, but those who wish the Confederacy had won the Civil War are stating that boldly with a symbol, and I welcome their freedom to say it in a nation brilliant for its tolerance. Don't believe me? Ask someone flying that flag: Do they wish the Confederacy had won?

Call it tradition if you will, but that defeated flag would not be bragging rights except for hope that maybe, just maybe, if those who believe work at it long enough, they can finally defeat the United States of America.

Won't happen though.

There were quite a few British who weren't exactly fans of that independence thing, and some went home, but for others this country was their home, still. As much as they might hate what they knew was treason, as it was.

They stayed in the new nation, and had children, and their children had children, and so on.

And somehow we all kind of get along together most of the time.

Too many may fail to appreciate the various forces hellbent on destroying this nation, from people who probably feel confident they are correct, who are citizens of a nation born in fire and blood. Which endures through it all, not because it forgets its history, but because it understands it.

The revolutionary spirit which created this nation still fires it in so many ways, and the freedoms that keep it alive are an inspiration to a world.

Thank you Patrick Henry and so many other patriots throughout this nation's history, as you gave us liberty. And it's up to each American generation to remember that liberty is a really cool thing to have.

I know I like it.

James Harris

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Speculation including office supply theft

One of the more remarkable things to me in American work culture for those who work in offices is routine theft of office supplies, and found myself with speculations that offer a simple explanation which trace back to what I see as wage theft, gender inequality in pay, and slavery.

To me money is a social IOU as society guarantees payback, as for instance US currency is backed by the US Government. And when employing someone is given usually in exchange for a favor, typically called labor, where works best with strangers. That means community is another area, where for instance volunteer firefighters presumably are not pay motivated, but work for their community.

With wages occurring best between strangers in non-community arenas, I think it easy to explain why pay problems can occur in more community focused occupations like police work, firefighting, teaching among others.

Communities have to figure out how to value the work, versus in other areas, as for instance your community is MUCH better off if your firefighters are less busy putting out fires than not.

And for example with the president of the United States pay is set by the US Congress, but the president doesn't need it during time in office as things needed are supplied by the people of the United States of America.

Oh yeah, and soldiers are in a community focused area. You do not volunteer for service in the US military to get rich, I would think. And wages are set in a way that is about what the community assesses as should be given, versus in direct compensation for legal services or products as favors in exchange for money.

However, in other areas pay is supposed to be about value of work received and I think there are legitimate concerns by many that often workers in non-community focused areas can simply be exploited, forced to either accept less value in return for their work, or fight relentlessly against employers who may see theft through wages as just a way of doing business.

I speculate that attitude that thievery from workers is just part of business arose in areas where slavery had existed and slaves were not paid, of course, but once institutional slavery ended, those who had been slaves were to be paid. I suggest their work was not properly valued as many were in a situation where their employers were those who had been slave-owners. Those people I doubt highly valued their work, and didn't pay properly, and as their attitude gained traction it spread throughout the United States and around the globe, until we get the modern system, which includes a known tendency to underpay women generally known as the gender pay gap.

Which to me is high level thievery, as workers in such a system can find it very difficult to force proper pay levels. And it occurs to me that some may retaliate with low level thievery, considering office supplies to at least be something.

Which is why am sure former military can be surprised in that system. For them work was separated from pay, while in the military, and no reason for hostility against a system they volunteered for and understand.

Community can be exploited too unfortunately by unscrupulous business owners. In a work environment where people are contractually providing their labor as services in exchange for pay, a ruthless employer might push a sense of community to extract beyond the contract.

In contrast for a community oriented entity, like a non-profit or the military, of course community services IS the thing. And someone unethical might lust after that ability to extract work from a sense of community, while underpaying, which is also simply theft.

Figuring out what the job is, and why then matters a lot. People who are providing service to their community are dependent on that community properly valuing their services, like military members whose pay is simply set. While people working for employers at jobs where their efforts get direct compensation, have to be sure that they are paid properly for those efforts.

People should work to make sure there is no snarl between efforts for community, like coming together for protection of your community say with sand-bagging efforts to protect against rising flood waters, and those involving work between strangers where favor should be equally exchanged, where money allows enumeration of value of a legally provided service.

James Harris