The Core Leadership Team at the Attig Law Firm took a “field trip” to the Dallas VA Medical Center a couple week ago.

Why?

We wanted to explore opportunities to “give back” to the Veterans community.

The ALF already donates 10% of our annual net revenue to Veterans non-profits; we all wanted to do something more.

On another day, I’ll tell you what we’ve decided to do.

Today, I want to tell you what I saw at the VA Medical Center.

Our tour was guided by Jerry, from the public outreach office, and Danielle, a Recreational Therapist in VA Hospice. In addition to the Hospice, we got to see portions of the Long Term care facility and the Spinal Cord Injury department.

What impressed me most about the tour was….

A VA employee – Danielle.

She showed us the great lengths to which the VA goes to make the end-of-life experience comfortable for Veterans who have a prognosis of less than 6 months.

The environment in the VA Hospice was so much more peaceful, calm, and happy than any other part of the Medical Center.

I don’t think it was because of the patients or their experience – I truly believe the peaceful environment was due to the folks that worked there – the Hospice Nursing and Recreational Therapy Teams.

It was obvious that every person we met truly CARED about and LOVED their patients – from making them comfortable, to honoring and memorializing their service, to choking up when talking about some of the friends they had lost.

PEOPLE in the VA caring about PEOPLE who are Veterans – that’s what I saw in the VA Hospice.

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It’s time to bust some myths.

If you hang out on the Veterans Law Blog, then you know that I LOVE to destroy Myths.  I have gone after myths about diabetes, myths about PTSD, Down Syndrome – and others.

When I saw what  Danielle – and her colleagues in the VA’s SCI and Long-Term care sections – were doing to provide a comfortable surrounding for Veterans in some pretty dire straits, I saw a very, very different VA from the one that’s always in the news, and forever attacked in the Veterans Community.

I saw a Myth I want to destroy: the myth that VA Medical care is as ALL as bad as the worst cases you read about in the news.   The myth that the PEOPLE at the VA are the Veterans’ enemy. The myth that PEOPLE at the VA don’t care.

A chunk of the problem is owned by the VA, and  I’ve written about it before – there simply are not enough people in the VA talking about the good things they do.

Heck, if you read this blog post by my friends over at Bergmann & Moore, you’ll know there isn’t anyone talking about the bad stuff, either.

These are very serious problems – once a bureaucracy stops talking about anything, it becomes an impenetrable monolith. People get hurt.

We gotta change that.

The whole tone of the conversation about the VA has GOT to change.

Its time to bust the myth that the VA is a monolithic bureaucracy that doesn’t care about Veterans.  It’s time to bust the myth that the VA can’t solve its problems.

Sure, the VBA  screws some stuff up – let’s be honest, they screw a LOT up – and I’m NOT going to stop pointing out where the VBA, the BVA, and the CAVC drop the ball.  I also won’t stop calling the VBA on the ridiculous nonsense they send out to Veterans about their claims.

However, every time I’m at a VA Medical Facility, I meet people like Danielle, Jerry, Skyler, Raymond, “Smiley” and a host of others busting their a**es to give Veterans a better experience.

I’m going to figure out a way to take on the myth that the VA doesn’t care – over time, I will share stories with you of the people I meet in the VA that do care.

Don’t think I’ve gone all soft:  I’m not going to stop attacking the VBA bureaucracy.

Veterans are my number one priority: the longer  we maintain this bitter and hate-filled dialog with and about the VA, the longer it will take Veterans to get what they need.

We all know the old saying: “It takes 2 to Tango.”   I believe, though, that it only takes 1 to Change the tune.

What is abundantly clear to me is that at the Dallas VA Hospice, Long-Term Care and SCI sections, Veterans are treated like PEOPLE, and not a demographic.

Thank you to each and every one of you we met at the VAMC Dallas 2 weeks ago – whether I mentioned your name in this email or not!

The ALF Team looks forward to moving forward on some of the great collaboration ideas you gave us!

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