President Trump signs VA accountability executive order

April 27, 2017 Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, D.C.

President Donald J. Trump visited the Department of Veterans Affairs to thank Veterans for their service, and VA employees for their work helping Veterans.

WATCH President Trump signing executive order to create a new VA Accountability Office.

While at the VA, the President signed an Executive Order entitled, “Improving Accountability and Whistleblower Protection at the Department of Veterans Affairs,” and Secretary Shulkin made three new key announcements at the VA’s Central Office.

The Executive Order is focused on improving “accountability and whistleblower protection” at the VA by creating an office dedicated to that purpose and the position of Special Assistant to the Secretary who will report directly to the Secretary and serve as executive director of the office.

The new executive director “will report directly to me as Secretary so that we can identify barriers that are preventing us from removing employees and people that we have identified that should no longer be working at VA,” said Dr. David Shulkin, Secretary of Veterans Affairs.  “We want make sure that we have employees who work hard and are committed to the mission of serving our Veterans.”

The VA will establish the office and appoint the executive director within 45 days of the signing of the Executive Order.

The executive director will advise and assist the Secretary in using all available authorities to discipline or terminate any VA manager or employee who has violated the public’s trust and failed to carry out his or her duties on behalf of Veterans.  The executive director will also assist the Secretary in recruiting, rewarding, and retaining high-performing employees.

At the signing ceremony for the Executive Order, Secretary Shulkin also announced three new key initiatives at the Department.

Two New Veteran/Military Friendly Organizations

April 22,2017 Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association (CVMA) Chapter 18-3

The Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association (CVMA) Chapter 18-3 from Kodak, TN’s member Kristina & Samson Ferrell requested Vet to Vet TN (V2VT) to participate in their Annual Motorcycle Scavenger Hunt and Auction.  The 3-hour ride began at Rocky Top Harley Davidson and ended at Jose’s Cantina in Pigeon Forge, TN.
V2VT provided Veteran suicide prevention material and set up their Vietnam War Commemoration (VWC) table.  During the event, V2VT recognized 8 VWC recipients.  The material was presented by XO “Viper” Adkins.   Click here to view photos from the event.The membership was grateful to receive the support from V2VT and the Knoxville Regional Veterans Mental Health Council (Council) and agreed to partner with the Council and V2VT in the future.  One step further, the XO and membership agreed to become a Veteran/Military Friendly Organization.

Visit their website to learn more about their mission

The Chow Hall

The Chow Hall is a veteran owned restaurant in Knoxville Tennessee.  The restaurant is a restaurant that veterans and their families should visit at 5706 E Emory Rd,
Knoxville, TN 37938.  David Brice, owner of the Chow Hall, attended the event and presented CVMA with a $2,700.00 check to help the Association to help end veterans’ homelessness. Kristina and Samson Ferrell and Ed Junod met at the Chow Hall about 30 days ago and spoke with the David and his family.  Vet to Vet TN offered to authorize the Chow Hall as a Vietnam War Commemoration presenter and recommended the Chow Hall enroll as a Veteran Friendly Organization.

During the event, David not only agreed to become a V2VT VWC presenter but also agree to enroll as a Council Veteran/Military Friendly Organization.

Visit their Facebook page to learn more about the restaurant.

 

Celebrate Recovery Community Volunteer Training

April 19, 2017 Sweetwater, Tennessee

Celebrate Recovery Community (CRC) Volunteer Training will be held at First Baptist Church Sweetwater on May 13th, 1000 – 1130.

CRC is recruiting volunteers to help lead a community effort beginning June 12, to offer support for those who are struggling with worry, addictive, compulsive or dysfunctional behaviors.

To learn more about CRC and/or becoming a volunteer, please click here to view the training announcement.

7th Graduation in Loudon County Veterans Court

April 19, 2017   Loudon, Tennessee

‘Loudon County Veterans Court 11th and 12th Graduates

April 19 2017

Loudon County, Tenn. – Loudon County Veterans Court (LCVC) held its 7th graduation ceremony Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at the Loudon County Courts Complex in the courtroom of General Sessions and Veterans Court Judge Hank Sledge. Judges Dale & Sledge and General Johnson began the Veterans Court in September 2015.  The courtroom was filled to watch this historic event for the Ninth Judicial District.

Loudon County 11th Veteran Court graduate, Navy Veteran Dean Dyer, told his story about how his life changed with Veterans Court. Dean was grateful for the LCVC and thanked LCVC, Helen Ross McNabb Military Services Center Clinical Therapist John Chandler and Vet to Vet Tennessee (V2VT) and V2VT Mentor Ken Russell for their support and guidance. “Thanks to everyone involved in getting this program going and making this a successful program for veterans.”

Loudon County 12th Veteran Court graduate, Marine Veteran Larry Bingham, told his story about his opportunity to cope with the support and leadership the LCVC staff, Helen Ross McNabb Military Services Center Clinical Therapist Tony Weaver and V2VT.  Larry has decided to continue his sessions with Tony.

 

From right to left: V2VT Vice President/ Mentor Coordinator Randall Scott, Loudon County Service Office Edward Navarro, V2VT Mentor Ken Russell, Marine Graduate Larry Bingham, Navy Graduate Dean Dyer, Judge Hank Sledge (at the bench) and V2VT Mentor Don Davis.

Click here to view more graduation photos.

Ed Navarro presented Dean and Larry with a certificate from Loudon County, Knoxville Regional Veterans Mental Health Council and Vet to Vet Tennessee for their efforts. Mission Accomplished!

The Global War on Terror has exacted a tremendous toll on America’s service members and their families. The country’s longest war has been fought repeatedly by a miniscule percentage of its population; never has such a monumental burden fallen on the shoulders of so few. The psychological trauma and ensuing problems caused by years in some of the most hostile conditions imaginable can lead to catastrophic consequences in all facets of an affected veteran’s life, leading to broken family relationships, homelessness, unemployment, and even incarceration.

PTSD and TBI certainly do not excuse criminal behavior, it is clear that imprisonment alone will not only fail to remedy the underlying causes

Regardless of the exact number of GWOT veterans incarcerated today, it is clear that with up to one million GWOT service members suffering from mental disorders that can lead to criminality, the number of veteran offenders will continue to grow. The war will wind down, troops will come home, and the military will shrink

by discharging hundreds of thousands of veterans into civilian society without an adequate support structure to address their mental health needs, difficulties with reintegration, unemployment, and a host of other issues. In fact, many troops may not even experience difficulties for several years after their service, suggesting that the worst may be yet to come.[i]

Participation in a VC is voluntary, and defendants must agree to comply with the courts conditions, such as undergoing mandatory treatment for substance abuse or mental health issues, obtaining housing and employment, and attending any requisite therapy sessions for the duration of the program. [ii]

The Veterans Court’s admissions standards rank among the most inclusive in the country.  This ensures that those veterans whose crimes may be most connected to their military service can turn their lives around. The Ninth Judicial Districts is allowing for consideration of military service during criminal proceedings would recognize veterans’ sacrifices while acknowledging that their crimes may result from underlying issues caused by their service. Veteran Courts benefit society by reducing financial costs associated with incarceration, increasing public safety, and providing justified individualized treatment to men and women who, in the words of Judge Bostick, volunteered to “go anywhere I am sent, do anything I am commanded, and signed that blank check to Uncle Sam, payable with my life if necessary, in service of our country.” [iii]

Vet to Vet Tennessee Veterans Court data to date:

  • Graduation rate, 95% – Justice involved veteran (JIV) has successfully completed the TX and has not returned to the justice system
  • Dropout/termination rate, 20% –  JIV has intentional removed him/herself from VC or has been terminated for TX non-compliance by either HRMC or V2VT and returned to the court.

 

Two more Veterans have successfully completed the LCVC program and are scheduled to graduate in May 2017 in Honorable Hank Sledge’s courtroom.

Please help us stop veteran suicide, homelessness, and incarceration.  “Do Something!”

[i] Logsdon & Keogh, supra note 7, at 20 (remarking that one study found that most arrested former troops had been discharged from the military for over ten years prior to arrest); see also Berenson, supra note 11, at 38 (“Traumatic brain injuries . . . are difficult to diagnose and treat and may not present symptoms until well after the injury.”

[ii] Spectrum Dep’t, Second Chance for Vets, 73 TEX.B.J. 810, 810 (2010).

[iii] Alabama Shelby County’s Eighteenth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Bill Bostick