Father John Patrick Mulcahy – M*A*S*H 4077 Chronicles

Father Mulcahy 2Of all the unforgettable characters from M*A*S*H 4077, one of the most important characters is Reverend Francis John Patrick Mulcahy, Chaplain, United States Army.  A most courageous and kind person, a character full of intestinal fortitude, with a deep desire to help the living, and a solid right hook when needed.  Father Mulcahy has always been a hero of mine, and I wanted to explain why, as a tribute to both the character and the actor William Christopher.

Father Mulcahy:
This isn’t one of my sermons.  I expect you to listen.”

Humility is not a weakness!

Of all the attributes of Father Mulcahy, his humility always shines through.  From his unfailing kindness to seeing the best potential anyone can have, to representing the best of what the Chaplains Corps means, William Christopher, as Father Mulcahy, produces flawlessly the sentiment that humility is a strength, a desirable, needed strength.  Consider the episode where Father Mulcahy belts the unruly and demanding lieutenant in the jaw, the episode where Father Mulcahy rides in a helicopter as a counterweight or the episode where Klinger and Major Burns get into it over a scarf, and Father Mulcahy talks Klinger into giving him a grenade.  Never do you see Father Mulcahy backing down, giving up, or losing sight of the potential goodness of a person.Father Mulcahy 4

Father Mulcahy struggles with the US Army’s ineptitude to promote him to Captain in a couple of episodes.  Even as he struggles, you see Father Mulcahy learn invaluable lessons, teach kindness, forthrightness, and compassion, and diligence, and reliance upon the strength that only comes through commitment to something greater than oneself.  Father Mulcahy’s strength is one of the glues that held M*A*S*H as a TV show together for as long as it ran.  Why; because Father Mulcahy was genuinely genuine!

Consider the episode where Father Mulcahy sits down with Colonel Potter shortly after Klinger takes over for Radar as company clerk.  Who else could have talked Colonel Potter down without talking down to Colonel Potter and allowed Colonel Potter the opportunity to act without disrespecting his rank and position?  Who else could counsel Major Houlihan, chastise Captains Pierce, Honeycutt, and Trapper John, hold Major Burns’ feet to the fires of accountability, and seamlessly interface between the enlisted and officers?  Nobody!  Better still, Father Mulcahy did all this while epitomizing the Rudyard Kipling poem, “If.”

If—
By Rudyard Kipling
(‘Brother Square-Toes’—Rewards and Fairies)

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except for the Will, which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

From an interview with William Christopher, we find that Father Mulcahy was not just a character played but a person in reality.

How did you and Barbara survive the many disappointments caused by failed interventions when Ned was young? For example, the assessment of one doctor that he was “retarded,” and nothing could be done other than to “take him home and love him.”

We regarded this particular guy as a young psychologist who may not even have finished his studies. Maybe he was still in his early practice, a student who hadn’t earned his doctorate yet. In any case, we felt he was in the wrong field. We thought he couldn’t possibly know us and advise us to just accept a limited life for our son….  But we both believed that people make mistakes.

Humor is a Prerequisite Quality

Father Mulcahy always used humor to express himself.

Major Winchester was a blessing.  May the good LORD never bless me with him again!”

Some of the funniest lines in M*A*S*H belong to Father Mulcahy, and unless you are listening closely, they are often missed for the banter between the central characters.  Consider the episode where the company sings the M*A*S*H version of “Gee Ma; I wanna go home.”

A chaplain in the Army
Has a collar on his neck,
If you don’t listen to him
You’ll all wind up in heck
.”

Humor plays an incredible role in facing traumatic situations and coming through, not unscathed but mentally capable, confident, and more able to achieve.  Father Mulcahy teaches us this lesson in spades, with dignity, class, and a ripping sense of humor.

Father Francis Mulcahy:
Try to be compassionate. Remember, even one of our saints received a Dear John letter.”

Don’t be passive – Be Active – Work Hard

Father Mulcahy 5There is a story about how William Christopher got sick with Hepatitis, and the show’s producers wanted to remove Father Mulcahy’s role entirely.  Instead, Alan Alda went to bat for William Christopher, changed the scripts, and wrote Father Mulcahy’s sickness into the show to keep Father Mulcahy on M*A*S*H.  Why would Alan Alda do something like this for a co-star?  There are several reasons; Alan Alda was a good person.  William Christopher was a good person.  But William Christopher was always working hard; he was not supposed to carry litters and all the other stuff he was always doing in the background.  William Christopher set a standard of behavior that modeled what a chaplain was supposed to do, and military chaplains copied his behaviors, mannerisms, behaviors, attitudes, and work philosophies.

Consider this for a moment; military chaplains learned how to be chaplains by watching a fictional character, imitating a US Army unit on a Hollywood set.  Reality has been changed to emulate fiction because fiction better reflects how people should act in reality.  I was not the only chaplains assistant who measured his chaplain by Father Mulcahy.  It is gratifying to know that many chaplains in the military have measured themselves against Father Mulcahy, found themselves wanting, and then worked to improve how they responded.Father Mulcahy 3

Name an episode where Father Mulcahy is not working, and I will show you an episode of M*A*S*H that was never made.  Father Mulcahy was always available, always cheerful, and constantly engaged in a good cause, as he himself said, “to be helpful to the living.”  Carrying towels, standing in for a nurse, providing an extra set of hands in surgery, comforting a patient, nurse, soldier, patient, always there, always caring.  One of the most poignant episodes is when the Bishop of the Catholic church is coming for a visit, but a soldier wants to give blood for his buddy, and he finds out he has leukemia, and Father Mulcahy spends all night, not on his sermon, but talking to this young wounded soldier.  Take a page from Father Mulcahy; working hard is not going to kill you.  Engage!

Father Francis Mulcahy:
[Wearing a dress] While I was showering, someone stole my robe and left me this… this… house frock!

Corporal Maxwell Q. Klinger:
Better not take it off, Father, or you’ll be a defrocked priest!

Father Mulcahy:
How would you like to get last rites, [raises his fists] and a few lefts?

Standing for your Convictions is Mandatory

Father Mulcahy:
How dare you! You seek refuge in this house of the Lord when it serves your purpose. Then when it’s no longer convenient, you desecrate it by pointing a deadly weapon at another human being. Private, a faith of convenience is a hollow faith.”

Father MulcahyThe episode this quote comes from is where the mess tent is being used for services, fresh eggs had been donated, and a soldier comes in seeking ecclesiastical refuge and is AWOL from his unit.  This episode has always been a favorite of mine; it has come back in times of stress and trial when the harder right and the easier wrong conflict, and I have the choice to make about which to follow.  Father Mulcahy always chooses the moral high ground, the harder right, instead of the easier wrong, and the lessons he taught through living are not easily forgotten or pushed aside.  I might not be as practiced in the execution of living the harder right, but I cannot choose the easier wrong, and that makes all the difference.

Father Mulcahy:
Klinger, the Lord moves in mysterious ways, but you take the cake.”

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

Dialectical Behavioral Theory – Decisional Balance Sheet – The Integrity Edition

Bobblehead DollAn email in my inbox started me thinking of Johari Windows first thing this morning, and in the process of proving myself wrong, I learned some interesting things and figured I would share my journey of discovery.  I am always fascinated when I prove myself wrong; I like it; mainly because it proves I am still human with a lot to learn!

Johari Windows

A Johari Window is a visual method for looking at data about self-knowledge and delineates information into four areas of interpersonal relationships:

        • The Open Area – represents what we both know about me and openly share.
        • The Hidden Area – is what I hide from you about myself.
        • The Blind Area is what you know about me, observe about me, and are aware of about me, but refuse to share with me.
        • The Unknown Area – is the part of me which neither of us knows about on a conscious level.Johari Window

Dialectical Behavior Theory

The Dialectical Behavior Theory (DBT) simply stated, is an evidenced-based process where a psychotherapist and a patient work to increase a patient’s emotional and cognitive regulation by learning about triggers leading to reaction and assessing and building coping skills to apply to events, thoughts, feelings, behaviors to avoid undesired reactions.  DBT is a precursor of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), which has shown significant effectiveness for PTSD-related problems and spectrum mood disorders.  A tool used frequently in CBT and DBT is a decisional balance sheet that looks like a table in an MS Word document.

Plusses/Pros Cons/Minuses
Self
Others/Family

A decisional balance sheet crops up a lot in various forms and under multiple names in psychology to represent data visually in a decisional tree, where the optimum location is in the lower right corner.

Low

High

Low

High

Imperative to understanding is that each decisional balance sheet, or decisional tree, can be read top to bottom or right to left.  The optimum location remains constant, regardless of the topic.  This is mentioned solely as a differentiation method between a Johari Window and a Decisional Balance Sheet.  A Johari Window can be any size but cannot be read top to bottom or right to left with an optimum location in any of the boxes.  That is how you tell the difference and my mistake from earlier this morning.

Integrity

Integrity is the practice of being honest and showing a consistent and uncompromising adherence to strong moral and ethical principles and values.  In ethics, integrity is regarded as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions.  Integrity is the choice to be the best you can be.

Integrity is holding ourselves to the same high standards that we have for others. Expecting little of everyone is apathy. Expecting less of ourselves than others sets us up for hypocrisy. Leniency is expecting less of others than ourselves, and it fails to create accountability. Integrity is the box where we should be at.” – Adam Grant

Integrity is not malleable, changeable, adjustable, wishy-washy, or like a suit coat that can be put on and taken off.  You either possess integrity, or you do not, and if you do not possess integrity, you are not worth my time and energy!Integrity

The current US President has no integrity, and America’s enemies knew this and desired this quality in the American president.  The Vice President, the majority and minority speakers in both houses of the Congress, and many of the governors and mayors in America all lack integrity.  As witnessed in the 2020 elections, a lack of integrity is being experienced in the judges, the county supervisors, the election boards, and many state legislators, and state election officials as well.  America is suffering from a dearth of integrity in public officials, and that is a significant problem!

Plato 2As a kid, I was told to role model John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Colonel Sherman Potter, and even Father Mulcahy.  I was told to despise those who weaseled on deals, liars, thieves, cheats, lawyers, and politicians.  These people were necessary evils, but I never believed in a necessary evil.  If you were evil, then you were not worth my time or support.  I maintain that position to this day, and it disgusts me to no end when I have been hoodwinked by politicians I thought had integrity who turned out to be wolves in sheep’s clothing.  Senator McCain, I am talking about you specifically, and I do not care that you are dead!

Millstone of Designed IncompetenceI guess it has been a couple of years now, I thought it had only been several weeks, but I had a conversation on the power of religion to improve integrity.  I have found just as many atheists as religionists with integrity and just as many religionists as atheists without integrity; thus, I can only conclude that religion is a tool for improving integrity, but individual choice trumps religious flavor and fervor.  Yet, religion does play a role in providing a moral background for building a solid foundation under a person with integrity.  Seeing as atheism is a religion, I have no problems calling on religionists of the world to unite to provide a moral background to improve integrity where they currently live, work, and reside.

However, in calling for an increase in integrity, I feel duty-bound to call out those without integrity for public display, ridicule, and scorn.  For example, I have found that the Queen of England has a lot of moral fiber and a high level of integrity, whereas her son is a flat-out creep who somehow missed integrity lessons and is choosing the life of depravity.  For all her faults, I felt Princess Diana had a lot of integrity, and her kids had some integrity, but they seem to be choosing the way of the snake, which is difficult to observe.

Plato 3President Biden is utterly bereft of integrity, his children are also utterly bereft of integrity, and Hunter is the worst of the bunch.  I do not wish to see how deplorable the grandchildren will be as they will be a millstone around America’s neck for a long time!  Vice President Kamala Harris and her spouse are two people utterly bereft of anything approaching integrity, moral uprightness, or even common decency.  They are joined by the Obama’s (including the children), the entire Clinton Machine, and the black hole of integrity has many others currently occupying seats in Washington DC for company.

Exclamation MarkSince we have so many examples of poor integrity, there must be examples of people with integrity.  Thankfully the answer is yes, and they are easy to spot.  Below are common ways to spot integrity, and I challenge you to look for and vocally support integrity where you find it.  One of the best ways to show integrity is to appreciate integrity in others.  Catch people doing good and vocally thank them.  Send thank you cards.  Send thank you emails.  Remember them after the incident.

        • Take responsibility for actions and consequences – Choosing to do the right thing is hard; accepting the consequences for failure, especially when it was not your fault is integrity in action. Allowing others to receive praise for accomplishments is integrity in action.
        • Put another person’s needs above your own. – This requires observation. Do the right!
        • Offer to help with action, not words. – As a disabled person, I do not want someone to offer to get a door, grab the bloody door! If I drop something, don’t offer to get it; bend down and grab it.  I will never criticize anyone for taking action.  Offers are good, but I always refuse offers to help, but I never refuse actions to help!
        • I will always give you the benefit of the doubt and start from the position that you are trying your best; please reciprocate.
        • Honesty is the only policy. Delivering honesty with kindness and forthrightness is socially the only way to move society forward.
        • Aretha Franklin was very clear, R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Learn it, live it, love it!  RESPECT is a two-directional street; you have to show it to get it.
        • Admit when you are wrong. It is called humility.  Humility is not weakness, but strength, learning, and growth.
        • People with integrity are reliable, they are on time (every time), and they work until the job is done.
        • Integrity includes kindness, even to a kid crying, dirty, stinky, smelly, and wet — a homeless person, a peer, a police officer, another driver, etc. Kindness is a choice!
        • Integrity is where we start each day anew as a lifestyle choice.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

Morality, the Vaccine to Envy

Angry Wet ChickenIn reading the news today, under the heading of “equity,” we find masturbation taught to first graders, hardcore porn taught to high schoolers, and San Francisco, CA., sliding into lawlessness and chaos.  Honestly, I felt my mind trying to explode; yet, life must go on.  In several previous posts, I have described how equity is a mask for envy.  For example, sexual grooming of the innocent comes from people envious of the innocent.  The district attorney in San Francisco is envious and uses his envy to gain power and lord that power over those who elected him.

The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-Day Saints, in their book of scripture The Doctrine and Covenants, Section 121, verse 39, has an applicable declaration.

We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion” [emphasis mine].

Detective 2For those interested, “unrighteous dominion” is considered to be oppression, pride, vain ambitions, and a host of other contention-increasing actions designed to stay in “power” where the exercise of authority can be abused.  For example, the district attorney and staff in San Francisco were informed by those who elected the DA to power that the crime and the lawlessness in the city were hurting them. The DA and staff are reported to have claimed those raising concerns were racist.  The governmental leaders in San Francisco consider themselves as having authority. Yet, they refuse to acknowledge that their “authority” comes from the governed and was granted through the electoral process and can be taken back.  Hence the verse quoted is an excellent description of what is being witnessed today at every level of government.

Various sources define morality; in fact, morality has been considered a philosophical debate, and much is written on this topic.  For this reason, the definition of morality is as follows:

Morality is the differentiation of intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are distinguished as proper and those that are improper. Morality can be a body of standards or principles derived from a code of conduct from a particular philosophy, religion or culture, or it can derive from a standard that a person believes should be universal.”

I am not here to dictate what is and is not moral between you, your conscience, and your supreme being worshiped.  However, I will emphasize that America was founded upon the morals of Judeo-Christian theology, and these morals have been a solid anchor in the chaotic push and pull of beliefs and morals across time.  I mention this because that definition of morality opens the doors for people to insist that sexually grooming young children is morally acceptable because they believe that sexual grooming should be universal.  Planned Parenthood, GLAAD, and several other groups believe that sexual grooming and stealing the innocence of youth is required because they personally envy children their innocence.

ModestyBelieve it or not, sex is NEVER free; there will always be consequences.  The 1960s sexual revolution has done more harm globally than any other revolution or clash of arms in history, bringing us back to the topic rather forcefully; morality is the only vaccine to envy.  But, who decides the morality of a nation, a state, a country, or a city?  The electorate as a collective voice selects the morality of that area.  The electorate decides the laws through the ballot box in a representative government.  In a non-representative government, the king, monarch, dictator, etc., dictate the morality of the population, which is one reason why old countries have histories where immorality was rampant as the people followed the examples of the leaders, not the leader’s words.  Want a history lesson in morality and how people copy a leader’s morality, look no further than King Henry VIII of England.

Social Justice Warrior 3Circling back again to how morality is the vaccine for envy, provided the morals involved in supporting morality are selected carefully and exemplified by leaders.  In the discussion on morality, philosophers question if there are absolutes?  Absolute right and absolute wrong, or are morals a gray area where time and social pressure keep everything gray?  Depending upon your appetite and your ability to control your appetites tends to set your moral convictions.

5 Illegal Drugs That Doctors Once Prescribed As Miracle CuresFor example, Playboy and Hustler have made billions of dollars selling sexually explicit content to the masses.  Some participate in pornography; others refuse pornography.  Those who choose to imbibe in pornography live a fantasy life where no woman will ever be good enough to meet the pictures witnessed and the lurid content from the magazines selling appetite suppression.  Both sides of the morality issue will complain they deserve attention and should be free to express their rights.  Both are using the same tool, envy, to make their moral stand become a legal standard.

Who wins and who loses?  Why?  These questions get to the heart of the problem and identify why morality is a vaccine for envy.  Morality, where all men (including women) are equal, would see the chains of pornography and set a moral standard to limit the content to adult audiences.  But, every 10-year old knows a friend whose dad has a subscription and has seen a Playboy or Hustler magazine.  Is this a failure of the law or moral codes; no, it is a failure of parents and parenting.  Yet, society will consider this a social problem. The K-12 educators will become involved in peddling worse to your children, all because of curiosity, failed parenting, envy, all of which stem from moral problems and morality breakdowns in social systems.

Exclamation MarkAs a kid, I remember the fierce debates over convenience stores being allowed to sell adult content, video stores carrying adult movies, and the continued fight over how much is too much in an R-rated, PG-13 rated, and G-rated movies.  Why were these fights and debates occurring; the lude and loose morality of the 1960s perverted sex into being “free,” and morality took a back seat to legal freedoms without accountability and responsibility.  Consider the gargantuan awards against cigarette manufacturers; why were these awards so high, poor moral choices, envy, and a refusal to accept that the daily choice of smoking 5-45 cigarettes is going to cost you your health as a consequence.

Sure, medical professionals peddled smoking as a curative; but they also peddled mercury, heroin, cocaine, and a ton of other chemicals and poisons, and those companies never got in trouble.  So why were cigarette manufacturers singled out; envy and a lack of morality where consequences are accepted for personal behaviors.  Nobody twisted arms and forced anyone to smoke.  Yet, the cigarette manufacturers have been forced to pay for advertising to prevent smoking, smoking cessation classes, and a host of other programs by legal mandate, for the moral failures of people in society.Are You Sure Grandpa Never Took Heroin? You May Be Surprised | BoredomBash

Is the connection clear?  Envy breeds bad case law, which enables poor moral choices without consequences.  Except, the consequences for personal choices cannot ever be escaped!  Therein lay the issue and the answer.  I do not care what moral code you choose to follow, provided that moral code does not infringe upon another person’s rights and liberties; believe who, what, and where you will.  Just understand that your moral code comes with consequences that others should never have to pay for.

Knowledge Check!Equality in the world, since the 1960s, has been a mask for envy.  Through the power of envy, people have become discontent, disabled, and disconnected from morality and the consequences of immoral behaviors.  America stands on a tipping point where envy is concerned, and if we, the citizens who can understand, cannot persuade, educate, and correct this trend line, disaster looms large!  We must recognize that the path of envy, in all its nicer sounding, feel-good imitations, is part of the problem we face!  Yes, I believe in liberty, freedom, the inalienable rights of man.  But freedom, liberty, and the rights of man are not government benefits to be doled out at the whims of bureaucrats.  It is not more government we need when morality is threatened by envy, but less!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

How Do I Know? – An Update on the VA Mandatory Mask Policies and VA Leadership Failures

Question24 May 2021 – 1200-1500 I visited the Las Cruces Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  Upon entry, I was asked to wear a mask.  I described I could not wear a mask, and the employee said I might be required to wear one but left the decision to those working more closely with me.  I waited in line and was called to the Team 2 window, where a gentleman was more than happy to assist me in getting the paperwork started to change VA hospitals after relocating.  About 45-minutes into my time in this CBOC, the gentleman asked me to wear a mask.  I told him I could not and had brought my VA Doctor’s note as proof.  The gentleman read the letter, confirmed I was good to receive care without the mask, and provided exceptional customer support.

After the past year at the Phoenix VAMC, where my every movement on the property was shadowed by VA Police officers looking for a reason to injure, arrest, cite, and force me from the property, the employees here in Las Cruces was a breath of fresh air.  However, the experiences in Las Cruces provide further evidence of the following facts:

      1. The Hospital Director has statutory authority for adapting and creating policies and procedures that benefit the safety of the employees and the patients. A point I stressed to the leaders of VISN 22 and the Phoenix VAMC to no avail.
      2. The Federal Mask Mandates can be situationally applied for the circumstances of the individual. Yet, another point I have repeatedly stressed since July 2020, and the first time I was injured, arrested, cited, and forced from Federal Property. At the same time, I was being denied emergency care under EMTALA and having my HIPAA information repeatedly violated by the VA Police Officers.
      3. The bombastic and unprofessional behavior of the Federal Police employed at the Carl T. Hayden VAMC is a problem of the leadership, and the failures of leadership to instill professionalism, proper attitudes and behaviors, training, and tactics in approaching and handling situations in the Phoenix VAHCS. At the behavior of the Federal Police Officers in the Phoenix VAHCS, Che Guevara, Mao, Stalin, and Fidel Castro would be proud!VA 3

How can a person be sure the problems caused are a direct result of leadership failures?

ApathyBy tracing behaviors, attitudes, and influence to their source, the police chief acts as he considers appropriate, but the underofficers generationally multiply and mirror his behaviors.  The same is true for the chief who takes his example from the assistant director, director, and hospital leadership.  Chains of command always have this consequence; the example of those above are mirrored, replicated, and multiplied to impress the higher officers to gain attention and promotion opportunities.  Want to take a measure of a leader; look to the most junior person in the chain of command and watch them for behaviors, attitudes, and actions that originate in the leadership.

GavelCase in point, long have I detailed and described the failures of leadership at the VA.  The latest is a wire fraud scheme in Jackson, Mississippi.  From the Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG), we find the following:

Anthony Kelley, the owner of Trendsetters Barber College in Jackson, Mississippi, pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud in a scheme to steal federal funds. From October 2016 through March 2019, the college offered a master barber course that was not accredited by the state’s board of barber examiners. Kelley fraudulently represented that this course was approved and, as a result, was allowed to collect GI Bill money from veterans enrolled in the program.”VA 3

As the lowest person in the chain of command, Mr. Kelly was allowed to attempt to commit fraud by the VA.  Never in these reports is the VA employee, their supervisor, and their manager, who were complicit in allowing fraud to occur, mentioned and held accountable.  Somehow, we, the taxpayer, must presume that those committing frauds could hoodwink the Department of Veterans Affairs without any inside help.  Help coming directly or indirectly from government employees charged with investigating, ensuring, and following proper protocols and procedures to protect against theft and fraud.

Angry Grizzly BearLet the US Attorney and VA-OIG special investigators crow about catching the person perpetrating fraud.  Before they break open the champagne, they need to be looking into the leadership that either overtly or covertly allowed this fraud to occur.  The elected officials need to be demanding why fraud opportunities are so rampant at the Department of Veterans Affairs that criminal proceedings are being reported almost every week and asking about the culture of corruption and leadership failures allowing these behaviors to thrive.

Is it a “Culture of Corruption?”

Absolutely; the VA is sick with a culture of corruption!  It is my sad duty to report on another employee who was able to steal from the VA, stealing hydrocodone and oxycodone prescriptions from the VAMC mailroom and mailboxes at some 40 locations in Kerrville, Ingram, and Center Point.

Scott M. Brown, a pharmacy technician at the Kerrville VA Medical Center in Texas, was charged with one count of theft of US mail for stealing hydrocodone and oxycodone prescriptions from the medical center’s mailroom as well as from residential mailboxes between March and April 2021.”VA 3

Currently, Mr. Brown is being held in custody and remains innocent until proven guilty in a court of law by a jury of his peers.  However, the fact that Mr. Brown has been charged and is in custody speaks volumes to the lax leadership that allowed these prescription thefts to occur.  Where is the VA-OIG in asking how the robbery was possible?  Where are the special investigators demanding answers from the leadership on policies and procedures that an employee could easily violate to obtain these drugs?  Who else was involved, or had to know, what was happening and said nothing?Plato 3

The Department of Veterans Affairs has been overtaken by those without skill, knowledge, and ability to understand cause and effect and properly interrupt the cycles of corruption.  Worse, these same people will bleat about how they need more money for technology solutions when their personal example, leadership failures, and human-to-human relationships are the actual problems.  The leaders will bleat like sheep in a corral about engagement, customer service, and industry buzzwords because they have no substance and even less desire to see things change.Plato 2

Recently I detailed the failures at the Department of Veterans Affairs on information technology.  The fallout from the deplorable designed incompetence in the IT/IS infrastructure at the VHA continues to represent just how incompetent the current leaders genuinely are.

To promote compatibility with the Department of Defense’s electronic health record system, VA is replacing its aging record system. This requires VA medical facilities to upgrade their physical infrastructure, including electrical and cabling. The OIG determined from its audit that the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) cost estimates for these upgrades were not reliable. VHA’s estimates did not fully meet VA standards for being comprehensive, well-documented, accurate, and credible. The audit team projected that VHA’s June and November 2019 cost estimates were potentially underestimated by as much as $1 billion and $2.6 billion, respectively. This was due in part to facility needs not being well-defined early on. The estimates also omitted escalation and cabling upgrade costs and were based on low estimates at the initial operating sites. Because cost estimates support funding requests, there is a risk that funds intended for other medical facility improvements would need to be diverted to cover program shortfalls. The Office of Electronic Health Record Modernization (OEHRM) also did not meet its obligation to report all program costs to Congress in accordance with statutory requirements. Specifically, OEHRM did not include cost estimates for upgrading physical infrastructure in the program’s life cycle cost estimates in congressionally mandated reports. Although VHA provided OEHRM with an approximately $2.7 billion estimate for physical infrastructure upgrade costs in June 2019, OEHRM did not, in turn, include them in life cycle cost estimate reports to Congress as of January 2021. OEHRM stated it did not disclose these estimates because the upgrades were outside OEHRM’s funding responsibility and that they represented costs assumed by VHA facilities for maintenance—including long-standing needs” [emphasis mine].VA 3

Angry Wet Chicken 2Did you catch that; the office specifically tasked with handling estimates intentionally low-balled estimates, did not include all necessary contractual requirements, and then lied to Congress to cover their hides, and fell back upon designed incompetence to skirt blame, responsibility, and accountability when the VA-OIG came investigating.  Lying to Congress is a CRIME!  Yet, these federal employees can break the law with impunity, and all the VA-OIG can do is make recommendations for improvement!  If you want to read the full report of shame, you can find it here.

Leadership is change; management is stagnation and corruption.  When will the VA start hiring leaders to enforce, demand, and execute change to benefit the taxpayer and the veteran community?  Where are the elected officials willing to work with newly hired VA leadership in establishing legal frameworks for evicting employees who refuse to change from the federal workforce?  When can the veteran community and the taxpayer expect to see real and tangible change at the VA?

Knowledge Check!I am not asking these questions and not expecting an answer!  I am asking these questions looking for and expecting real results to begin immediately, if not sooner!  This is a national embarrassment with a global impact, and it is time for the United States to lead in correcting their detestable government workforce!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
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