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Military Connection: Don’t Panic Over Ebola: By Debbie Gregory

ebolaNews stories are creating an Ebola scare in communities around the country. Cases of individuals suspected of having Ebola or having travelled to Western African countries without having any symptoms have forced schools to close and people to be quarantined, with more restrictions coming.

It is true that nine people have been confirmed to have had Ebola while on American soil. In fact one, Thomas Eric Duncan, even died from the virus. But the majority of Ebola reports are media hype. With that said,  it never hurts to be prepared in case the virus spreads to your neighborhood.

Although California has not yet confirmed any cases of the Ebola virus, the University of California Office of the President informed the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) that all UC Medical Centers are prepared to provide care for any Ebola cases in the state, if the need should arise.

There are five UC Medical Centers that include facilities at Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. These university hospitals will work closely with CDHP if any Ebola patients should present themselves. The announcement does not mean that the five UC Medical Centers are identified as treatment centers for Ebola cases coming from outside of the U.S. by the State Department.

CDHP will ensure that the UC Medical Centers have the most current treatment information for Ebola cases. The department and the individual facilities will make sure that the staff at all five medical facilities have the proper personal protective equipment to prevent the spreading of the virus from patients to healthcare professionals.

The Centers for Disease Control recently updated the PPE guidance, aligning them with California’s stricter standards. State officials will also work with these medical centers to ensure that medical waste generated from the treatment of an Ebola patient will be properly handled and disposed of.

In California, all hospitals in the state are expected to screen, identify and quarantine any patients at risk for Ebola. After initial screening, if further testing of the patient is needed, the hospital will contact the local health department, which can facilitate a more detailed assessment. If necessary, the local health officer will then coordinate with CDPH and CDC to pursue testing at CDC-approved laboratories. During the process, the patient would remain in isolation until the test results are received. If the result is positive, CDPH will work with the hospital, local health officers and the CDC to transfer the patient as needed.

Everyone should know that measures are being put in place in their communities around the country to detect, contain and ultimately cure the Ebola virus. Despite what news reports might tell you, there is no need to panic.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Don’t Panic Over Ebola: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Choice Act in Effect: By Debbie Gregory

VA fires directorThis has been a very distressing and eventful year for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), as well as the Veterans it serves. The year began with allegations of scandal, corruption and improper care from the VA and its healthcare component, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

Claims of long wait times for VA care contributing to the deaths of more than 40 Veterans got the nation’s attention. Next came the follow-up accusations that VA employees deliberately altered records in order to appear to be in compliance with VA regulations. The substantiation of some of these accusations led to the resignation of Gen. Eric Shinseki as the secretary of the department. These events also led to Americans calling for VA reform.

The public outcry led to the August, 2014 passing of the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014, commonly referred to as the “Choice Act.”  Now in effect, the act is providing better care for Veterans enrolled in the VA healthcare system through the hiring of more doctors and staff at VA facilities. It also has a provision to allow Veterans to seek private care if a VA facility cannot grant them an appointment within a reasonable amount of time.

Among other benefits, the Choice Act increases the VA secretary’s authority to fire senior executives. This measure is an attempt to end corruption and misconduct,  while increasing effectiveness among VA employees at all levels.

On October 29, 2014, the VA removed the Director of the Central Alabama Veterans Healthcare System (CAVHCS) from federal service. The decision was made following an investigation by the Office of Accountability Review (OAR) in which allegations of neglect of duty were substantiated.

This removal was done in accordance with provisions made under the Choice Act, and underscores the VA’s commitment to hold leaders accountable and get Veterans the care they need.  The OAR reports directly to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and assists VA facilities in accelerating leadership accountability actions, while ensuring that such actions are applied consistently across the department.

While there is still a long road ahead, this dismissal shows that VA reform is taking place, and that VA Secretary Robert McDonald is working to improve the department and provide Veterans with the care they deserve.

The Veterans Health Administration will begin recruiting for a new director for CAVHCS.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Choice Act in Effect: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: VA Extends AL-TBI Program: By Debbie Gregory

AL TBI ProgramOn October 21, 2014, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it is accepting proposals for the extension of its Assisted Living for Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury (AL-TBI) pilot program.

Through the AL-TBI program, eligible wounded Veterans are placed in private sector TBI residential care facilities that specialize in neurobehavioral rehabilitation. In the care of these facilities, Veterans are offered team-based care and assisted living.

The AL-TBI pilot program was originally slated to end this year, but through the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014, it has been extended through October 6, 2017. There were 187 wounded Veterans enrolled in the pilot program that was offered in 46 different facilities in 22 states.  There are currently 94 wounded Veterans still enrolled in the program.

With the VA announcing the extension of the program, opportunities are available for care providers to participate in the program. The VA is accepting proposals through November 20, 2014.

To be eligible for the AL-TBI program, contractor facilities must meet state, federal as well as local standards, and must also be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) in Residential Rehabilitation/Brain Injury Program.

Contracts for the extended program are expected to be awarded in February, 2015.

For more information about the AL-TBI Request for Proposal, visit the AL-TBI solicitation announcement on the Fed Biz Ops website, or visit www.fbo.gov

In addition to the AL-TBI extension, the VA is also in the process of the following measures:

Extending the pilot program of Project ARCH (Access Received Closer to Home) through March 31, 2015, and exploring additional contracting options to execute the remaining 18 months of the pilot program;

  • Awarding a contract to the MITRE Corporation, Alliance to Modernize Healthcare, a private not-for-profit company, to support the Independent Assessment of VA health care processes; and
  • Expanding the Fry Scholarship Program to include surviving spouses of service members killed on active duty.

Military Connection: VA Extends AL-TBI Program: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: VA Expands Fry Scholarship: By Debbie Gregory

surviving spousesRecently, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it will be expanding the Fry Scholarship to include surviving spouses.

The Fry Scholarship was created to honor the memory of Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry of Lorena, Texas. With only one week left in his 2006 deployment in Iraq, Sgt. Fry volunteered to continue working an additional seven hours disarming explosive devices, despite having already sustained an injury to his hand. On March 8, 2006, Sgt. Fry made the ultimate sacrifice when an improvised explosive device detonated. Fry left behind a widow and three young children.

The Fry Scholarship provides eligible children and widowed spouses of fallen service members with up to 36 months of the full equivalent of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which includes 100% tuition at state schools, a monthly housing allowance, and a stipend for books and supplies.

Surviving spouses who are eligible for or are already receiving, benefits under the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program may now be eligible for the Fry Scholarship. However, all surviving spouses eligible for DEA and the Fry Scholarship must make an irrevocable election for either program, beginning on or after January 1, 2015. In other words, when a surviving spouse elects to convert to the Fry Scholarship, he or she loses all remaining DEA benefits. If a spouse elects to use DEA instead of the Fry Scholarship, he or she forfeits all future entitlement to the Fry Scholarship.

The Fry Scholarship is the latest in a series of VA measures to put in place provisions of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014, also known as the “Choice Act.” Section 701 of the Choice Act expands the Fry Scholarship to include the surviving spouses of American service members who died in the line of duty after September 10, 2001. Prior to the enacting of this year’s notable Veteran-friendly legislation, only the children of service members who died in the line of duty were eligible for the Fry Scholarship.

“We can never fully repay the debt we owe to these families who have lost a loved one,” VA Secretary Robert McDonald said. “It is a privilege to provide educational benefits that will make a positive difference in their lives.”

The VA will identify surviving spouses who are eligible for both programs, and send them a letter with comparative information on the benefits available and instructions on how make an election that best suits their needs. Information about these two programs is available on the VA’s GI Bill website. There is also a downloadable Factsheet available. The VA call center (888-GIBILL-1) also will be able to help individuals understand the differences between the two programs.

Military Connection: VA Expands Fry Scholarship: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Army Rethinks Enlistment Tests: By Debbie Gregory

Military ExamsHow do you get American men and women to volunteer to serve in the military? How do recruiters know who will make a good soldier, sailor, marine, or airman?

Studies reveal that only three out of every ten Americans in the eligible enlistment age range would meet the minimum requirements to qualify for service eligibility. These requirements include possessing a high school diploma or GED, being drug free, having a clean criminal record, being physically fit, and scoring high enough on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude (ASVAB) test. All of the service branches are concerned with the dwindling population of eligible new recruits.

The Army is taking the first steps towards increasing the population of eligible potential-recruits by broadening the assessment of individuals wishing to enlist. The Army is considering altering its recruiting criteria to look at non-cognitive indicators of what’s likely to make someone successful in the military.

The Army’s deputy chief of staff for personnel, Lt. Gen. James McConville, said the service is increasingly realizing that ASVAB scores aren’t the only good predictor of what will make a successful soldier. The Army looks at many of its senior enlisted leaders as an example. These proven soldiers may not have scored well on their ASVAB tests or SATs, but through the course of their military careers, they have displayed a resiliency and tenacity for mission accomplishment that far exceeds what any tests currently given can gauge.

Scientists at the Army Research Institute have begun to explore new ways to measure desirable traits that are difficult to capture with the currently offered standardized tests. The future tests will be able to determine traits such as how adaptable a soldier would be and how resilient a potential recruit might be when exposed to stressful situations. Army officials believe that this method of testing could benefit some future applicants who wouldn’t score well on traditional tests.

The modern U.S. Army needs members in its forces who can rapidly innovate in response to quickly unfolding crises around the world. For this reason, the Army is no longer as interested in how well a potential recruit scores on a vocational or academic test.  They are looking for resilient soldiers who can adapt and overcome stressful environments. And they are developing a way to identify those men and women through non-cognitive measures.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Army Rethinks Enlistment Tests: By Debbie Gregory

 
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