Added Upon – An Eternal Investment Principle

WhyPlease note that while the following begins with truths found in the Bible, this is not a religious discussion.  Galatians 6:5-10 reminds us that what we reap, we will sow.  Some have called this the “Principle of the Harvest,” others try to frame this discussion as Isaiah proclaimed (Isaiah 10:15) “Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith?  or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it?  as if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood.”  Each iteration proclaims the same truth, where you invest, you shall gather the interest thereof.

I could stop right here, and the entire lesson will have been taught to those with ears to hear and eyes to see.  However, there is something else I wish to communicate and will beg your attention a little longer, dear reader, for the principle of added upon does more than merely render unto a person that which they carefully sowed.

As a child, I grew up in a home full of abuse.  Mental, sexual, physical, spiritual, if you can name the abuse, we suffered it.  Carefully sown, this abuse has grown bitter fruit indeed.  Except, those who planted were not only my parents; the fruits were bitter indeed for the receiver of the abuse and the deliverer of additional abuse.  Shortly after working out a plan to commit suicide and failing, boy did I feel like a loser; I came to my senses and committed to breaking, forever sundering, the chains of abuse.  I would not have my children raised in the turmoil, abuse, chaos, hate, strife, and pain I was raised in.

See, the investment principle is powerful.  Interest must be paid, and the principle of added upon works like this:

If I act in a specific manner, it will be observed by those around me, and they will multiply my behaviors (for good or ill) 10-fold.  Those who see this second generation of behavior will imitate that behavior 20-fold, multiplying and forever working to exceed the earlier behaviors observed.?u=https3.bp.blogspot.com-fYRTNk48SCwT8ua0IRDWPIAAAAAAAAFZUpexSmJsN2Kos1600overcoming-adversity-help-yourself-believe-cubby-motivational-1289878102.jpg&f=1&nofb=1

The principle of added upon works in other ways.  In the 90s, I read a research report about how high school students who thought cheating acceptable stole from their employers.  But, the children of those who stole from their employer took the behaviors of theft and added upon them to steal purses, rob stores, murder, lie, and cheat, all with no abandon.  The interest came from the behaviors of the original sin of cheating on a test in high school, and the fruit destroyed potential lives.

But, I am not without hope in discussing the principle of added upon, as the reverse also occurs.  A dear friend of mine was raised by his single mother, his father was an alcoholic, and there were generations steeped in abhorrent behavior.  Yet, my friend broke the chains, invested in learning, and his children were free of the evils of abuse, alcoholism, and sexual abuse and were raised in a nuclear family.  My friend worked exceedingly hard and continues his efforts to protect, teach, guide, mentor, and build his children into productive and valuable members of society.

The principle of added upon holds such power as to bloom potential in the darkest abyss, bringing light, life, and deliverance to future generations.  Why is this important right now; America is in trouble.  Too many have sown seeds of destruction and are reaping the whirlwind as natural consequences.  Too many broken homes, too much welfare destroying the principle of work, too many imaginations have uprooted common sense and decency for the politically easier path, and so much more.  Personal interest fuels wars, contention, strife, and every social ill from coast to coast.Tax Burden

Consider this, the government “Of the People, By the People, and for the People” has intentionally been sown with seeds of complacency, bureaucratism, hate, envy, strife, malice, and abuse of all kinds and flavors, done in the name of securing power and personal wealth.  That which the government has sown is being reaped in her citizenry, and the citizen’s tears must be answered by those wielding government power for personal gain.

Much has been written about Liz Cheney’s recent loss, and the personal wealth garnered while serving in the US House of Representatives.  Some have called this karma; others believe it is a heaven-sent miracle.  I hope that which she reaps will build a new person.  How many of us are in a similar position?  We have sown, and are praying, hoping, wishing that the fruit of our labors is not bitter?

I have some suggestions, and I hope you may find peace in some of all of these thoughts.  Please take the time to learn, and choose the seeds you sow more wisely.

  1. If you hate who you are right now, do you want to change? Do you desire the ability to change with every fiber of your being?  Do you want to change your consequences?  If the answers are YES!  Then make a choice to change, and start rooting out the seedlings sown.  This alone is a good first step, but it will not be easy; yet I echo words from the master teacher, it IS worth it!
  2. Start RIGHT NOW! I cannot emphasize this point enough.  Procrastination is the enemy of change, as surely the enemy of food is a starving beggar.  How do you start?  Forgive yourself, commit to change, and begin acting.  Even if you think you are incapable of changing, let the desire feel your mind, write down your ideal person, and start rooting out the weeds and bad behaviors of sown seeds.
  3. Ask for forgiveness, and render forgiveness. Saying sorry and committing to not repeating destructive behaviors are HARD.  But, the German axiom is well remembered, “The hard IS good!”
  4. Forgiveness will eventually bring the fruit of forgetting. Please, be kinder to yourself and others, forgiving and repenting daily.  How do you change the past; you practice forgiveness and repentance in the present, and the future will shine brighter, eventually.

I was privileged to hear a person speak about hourglasses in my youth.  When trying to change, we are in the bottom glass, and there is plenty of room.  But, as we swim against the tide coming down, the space diminishes until we are in the neck of the hourglass.  If we can but hold onto the change we desire, then as we exit the neck, still moving upwards, we get a little more space from the problems and troubles, the tide pulling against us lessens as we get further from the neck, and the added room provides places of safety.  The hourglasses stacked on top of each other form the pattern, and we can succeed gloriously, as we were not created to fail!Never Give Up!

If you need more help, confidence, or a shoulder to lean on (but not rest), choose someone as committed as you are to change and make them central in your life.  You CAN do this!  Believe, and then go to work!

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Random Thoughts

Standing here typing, listening to Garth Brooks, my mind will not relax to sleep.  Reason unknown, but these thoughts seemed to need to be written, so here goes nothing:

  1. Can a person have too much experience and too varied a resume? I’ve been a Jack-of-all-Trades for so long, but is that damaging my professional brand?

With a tour active-duty Army, a stint in the US Army National Guard, and a tour of duty active in the Navy, my SMART transcripts are thick with experience.  Add in the correspondence courses, the moving from state-to-state in the guard, I have collected job specialties/Military Occupational Skills (MOS), and civilian experience to the Nth degree.

In Fourth Grade, I heard about Cracker Jacks, how they were specialists in being Johnny on the spot to fill the needs demanded.  I have turned this into project, program, and change management, and supported it with formal and informal education.  What is too much?  How do I know when I reach that point?The important thing is not to stop questioning. ~Albert Einstein #motivation #questioning # ...

  1. Garth Brooks sings a song called “Ireland.” The song is more of a saga than a song, and it tells the story of an Irish Army, on the short end of long odds and outmanned.  Since I first heard this song, it has struck those chords in my soul, reason unknown.  Having been on the receiving end of long odds and understaffed, I understand the sentiment of this song on an almost spiritual level.

I’ve been in professional situations where I was the victim of lies, physical violence, and sexual assaults from both men and women.  People who desire to make themselves feel better by making another person worse.  I’ve been fighting bullies my whole life; bring it on.  You cannot put the “Skeer” on me!  Funnily enough, I sure have the Skeer on a LOT of others, mostly without ever trying.

Recently an event from the US Navy came forcibly to mind, one of the few times I put the Skeer on another person, then kept that Skeer up to the day I left the ship.  I had a member of my chain of command physically assault me.  I stepped toe-to-toe, looked him straight in the eye, and swore to the depths of my eternal soul that if he ever thought of touching me again, I was going to stuff his lifeless body into a saltwater compensated fuel cell, and all they would find of his remains would be atomic molecules as they went through the engines and into the atmosphere.  He never looked me in the eye again, touched me, and left the space crying.  I never touched him, but I got my point across.

I have carried the injuries from that day to this, and the VA refuses to acknowledge these injuries or their severity.  The VBA continues to deny that a male can experience military sexual trauma from another male.  But I put the Skeer on the perpetrators, and this comes with no satisfaction.  The law refused to support me; UCMJ failed even to acknowledge these issues while punishing me for the smallest of infractions.  Where is justice?

I was one of a tiny minority who was sent to Captain’s Mast (UCMJ, Article 15) proceedings, whose NCOER score went up after being sent before the mast.  My lowest NCOER score was 3.5/4 during my entire enlisted period US Navy.  But I could not get promoted, refused transfers, and was denied everything because I was “Too valuable to the command,” but this did not stop the command from sending me before the mast every six to eight months.  I have scars from the bullies, but they never broke me!Invictus by William Ernest Henley - Parchment Style Digital Art by Alexander Ivanov

  1. Since June 2022, I have been pleading on my blog, LinkedIn, and Facebook for participants for my dissertation research. Unfortunately, the research participation rate hasn’t exceeded zero—more reasons unknown.

Have you ever sat through company training and a trainer made an impression, for good or ill, on your growth with that organization?  Do you train others, hoping you are influencing the students in your classroom?  Do your official duties include leading training efforts for your company?  Please click on the link to enter the survey/questionnaire:

Have you successfully been coached or been the coach to another?  What about mentoring?  Have you received mentoring or been a mentor?  Your insights are vital to my research, and I want to showcase your insights to other researchers to help improve company training programs.  Please, join, and let’s change the world.invictus logo 10 free Cliparts | Download images on Clipground 2021

  1. On the topic of the VBA, did you know you can have a VA provider diagnose you with PTSD and be denied VBA benefits? I would never have believed this was possible until it happened to me.  The civilian provider doing the PTSD exam claimed a person could not experience PTSD unless they were in combat.  If anyone knows how to successfully change the VBA’s mind, don’t hesitate to contact me.  I need some help on this claim!

The inconsistencies in my claim baffle and bewilder me to no end.  The abuse by the VA’s ineptitude and deleterious attitude leaves me thinking about running for office, if for no other reason than to stop the depredations of the VA.  Any lawyers out there looking for a fight, itching to correct a wrong, and want to join?

  1. I am almost finished with an advanced degree in industrial and organizational psychology (I/O Psych), and I am appalled by many of my colleagues. Not those in I/O Psych, but those in other psychological fields, psychiatry, and the medical field.  I am not denying that kids (age 9-18) are often confused about their bodies and have fanciful ideation about being a different gender.  Sometimes these thoughts and feelings need professional support to understand and cope.  But recommending surgery to mutilate their bodies permanently is morally, ethically, and borderline legally wrong!

In following the gender dysphoria topic, I have read the heartbreaking stories of those who transitioned, mutilated, and then eventually came to themselves and wept for that which has been lost.  Related on these blog pages are several stories of people I have known, who have experienced rape, beatings, and tremendous pain due to gender confusion, jealousy, greed, and a compliant medical industry hellbent on doing harm.  Why?

I repeat my question, only for emphasis, if your actions are so life-affirming and positive for you, why are you so hate-filled, angry, and abusive to others?  If the mutilation of healthy tissue is not immoral, unethical, and borderline legal, why the secrecy, silence, and walls of hate when approached on this topic?  These are honest questions.  The research does not support any conclusions; expect to plead for more research.  Science is not settled on any issue, let alone the alteration of young bodies and minds.

Writing these questions and thoughts down is therapeutic.  If they help you, I have accomplished my purpose.  I close with a thought:

“Ask yourself the hard questions, never stop asking, and allow your answers to change as you do.”  Colin Wright

I affirm in the strongest words I am not a victim, I am not the same person I was at 18, and I glory in the ability to continue to change.  Ask questions, learn, and change.

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Hubris Ante Nemesis – Flash from the Eternal Semaphore

Bobblehead DollAs a kid, I read a lot of Greek and Roman Mythology.  I learned some great lessons from the fates, the fabled battles, and the historical interweaving with the fictional.  One of the lessons keeps recircling, “Those whom the gods would destroy first they make proud.”  Except, the gods/God do not make men proud; men choose pride, then comes vanity, all feeding ego, until that penultimate moment when “Hubris Ante Nemesis” occurs and the bottom is pulled out from under you.

The fates are three goddesses by the name of Clotho (the spinner), Lachesis (the allotter), and Atropos (the inflexible), possibly the children of Ananke (Necessity); these fates spun out the woven lives of men and women on the tapestry of a grand design.  Out of necessity, the fates weave, and what is woven cannot be undone.  I can understand the mental comfort people might take from thinking that these weavers hold men’s destiny; thus, all success or failure is the fault of the weavers of fate.The Fates Picture, The Fates Image

Hubris, in Greek Mythology, is the god of arrogance.  Full of wanton violence, insolence, arrogance, and who actively chooses never to exercise restraint.  Hubris remains a classic example of extremes.  Nemesis is the goddess of fate and revenge.  Roughly translating Latin Hubris brings Nemesis to balance the scales.  Nemesis is the humbler of men who Hubris have enticed into taking their lives to extremes.

In Judaism, the saying goes, “Pride goeth before the fall.”  Or put another way, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”  In all cultures of men, this same semaphore is flashing across the minds of philosophers and religious leaders, beware the tides of extremes, choose humility, and caution against arrogance, pride, sloth, vanity, lust, gluttony, and ego.  When did we stop heeding this call?  Why have these calls been classified as religious and minimized in all societies?Nemesis | Myth Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia

Consider the political leaders of the day, those who think they are beyond the reach of law merely because they think they are the keystone in a democracy and deserve to live better than those who elected them to power.  Recent examples of this pride are witnessed in Speaker Pelosi’s husband making stock choices when the company is about to get a massive windfall from the US Government.  Al Gore compared climate deniers to the police in the Uvalde, Texas school shooting while jet-setting around the globe.  He is preaching moderation and reduced lifestyles while he lives in excess.  The list is never-ending, where extreme lifestyles are flashed wantonly, and suffering continues to expand exponentially.

Marie Antoinette was made famous for the starving and suffering by losing her head after supposedly claiming, “Let them eat cake.”  Hubris snuffed out by Nemesis in a well-deserved act of humiliation.  Yet, one of the things that set Greek and Roman mythology apart from Judaism and Christianity was the ability to repent, achieve forgiveness, and change one’s life being in the hands of the individual, not the destiny of the Fate’s.

Being called to repentance is primarily the realm of religious leaders, and I would not want anyone to think I am making a call for others to repent.  Not my job, no authority, no power.  Merely, I hope to help raise the perception of those suffering from the hubris of others.  I also want to improve how I live.  I am not the example to hold up to anyone, except as a warning, but I strive to improve.  The poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley rings ever truer, “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”Invictus Games Foundation - YouTube

Our world, right now, is suffering greatly.  Crime is skyrocketing; theft is out of control; violence, aggression, murder, rape, and so much more are occurring at levels not ever recorded and growing.  Yet, Thomas S. Monson authored a book based on a concept of power, “The future is only as bright as your faith.”  Consider this for a moment; we can have hope and happiness in whatever circumstances we face as a choice reflecting our personal religious beliefs.  Yes, the consequences of crime hurt physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, etc., but the hubris of others can be healed.  Victor E. Frankl’s book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” signals the same semaphore, your choices can heal the hubristic consequences suffered, and the future is bright!

Those who have indulged in hubristic actions can find peace, joy, happiness, and forgiveness.  Those hurt by the hubris of others do not have to stay hurt, or hurt others, to find the same joy, peace, happiness, and forgiveness.  Want to know an exciting thought?  I am not preaching religion!  Your religious choices are your own, and I respect your religious preferences, provided they do not infringe upon anyone else’s rights to freedom of religion.25 Best Hope Quotes That Build Your Confidence Again - Picss Mine

I am talking about living without extremes, not religion.  How big of a house do you need?  Due to my violent sleeping and crazy sleep patterns, my wife and I sleep in different rooms.  Because I am a proud person who, after cleaning latrines and heads for the US Army and Navy, hates cleaning bathrooms, we also have separate bathrooms.  As a married couple, these changes to the “traditional” style of a man living with a woman have led us to live in a slightly larger home, but this fits our needs.  Please note that my bathroom is not a filthy mess, but it is not the surgical clean of a military bathroom either.  Nor is my bathroom one step higher in cleanliness above the military than my spouse’s.

How many cars and vehicles does a person need?  I don’t know.  I have friends who have four-wheelers, tractors, motorcycles, and a host of other vehicular conveyances.  I am not here to tell anyone how much of anything they need.  I merely postulate that you can make better choices and exercise less hubris through careful consideration and thoughtful discussion.  The same goes for food, clothing, entertainment, and every other vice humans invent to fall into.  I am not condemning anyone!  I suggest that we can live well without the extremes and expect our political leaders and bureaucrats to do similarly.

Question 3How expensive is the government because those who claim to be public servants practice hubris with our tax dollars?  How complicated a process does a government become when government becomes a jobs program instead of a government?  How big does a government become when hubris is practiced against the citizens?

As free-thinking humans, we do not need to be ruled with a brick stick to make better living choices.  We do need a moral code to live by, and how you choose your moral code is your business.  The moral code should include things like living within our means, not being violent to others, promoting good where we see it, and disdaining socially what should be kept privately, among other things.  I cannot stress this enough choosing what you believe is your business.  However, hubris hurts others to make oneself inflated, and that is everyone’s business!

Consider for a moment the store clerk who had to take a life to defend himself in a bodega in NYC.  That man will be forever haunted by the violence perpetrated upon him, leading to the perpetrator’s death.  The hubris of the attacker led to his humiliation but had consequences for society at large.  The thieves in San Francisco, Chicago, and other places do not hurt just the business and local communities, they hurt everyone in American society, and their hubris is morally, ethically, and legally wrong!Hubris Quotes. QuotesGram

The murderer’s hubris affects society just as wholly as the hubris of a political leader who lives in excess; I see no difference between the two.  Some may complain that murder and living in excess are two different moral choices, but those hurt do not differentiate the wound, so why should I?  Is not a life lost in murder?  Is not a life lost when the excesses of others lead them to use the power of government to steal, cheat, and lie in the name of government business?

Consider illegal immigration as the theft it is, and we can see how hubris negatively influences the originating country, pushing the poor out and the host country where the poor want to reside illegally.  Does this mean immigration is wrong; absolutely not!  Immigration includes assimilation, illegal immigration does not, and those practicing illegal immigration, promoting, and facilitating are all practicing hubris for personal power, wealth, and gain.  Are there those in the illegal immigration classes who are the “Sons of Mary;” indeed.  But the majority are merely perpetuating hubris with the resulting consequences in increased drug trafficking, sex trafficking, disease spread, and a host of other social ills.

I admit the murders of millions in Nazi Germany under Hitler were terrible, but how is this any different from Mao using government powers to kill millions by withholding food, clothing, and housing from those who disagreed politically, religiously, or personally?  Or any different than Xi Jinping doing similarly to the Uyghur populations?  What is different between Marie Antoinette and Marx or Stalin?  How are these actions any other than what the government has done under the excuse of Covid?  Did not millions die while political leaders lived in excess, flaunted their hubris, and stole from those who put them in power?️ Oedipus hubris. Oedipus Rex or Oedipus the King Essay. 2019-01-31

Under communism in the USSR, the people lived in abject misery, while those who considered themselves elite grew fat and lazy, all in the name of helping, providing, caring, and progress.  Communist Cuba and the disaster called Venezuela are additional examples of what occurs when hubris corrupts governments and society is left to suffer while the leaders live lives of excess.  America used to be a capitalistic country but is now a mix of socialism and communism under the guise of capitalism.  The hubristic lifestyles of those in power, their lackeys, flunkeys, and bureaucrats, are all at the taxpayers’ expense.  What is the difference between hubris in the communist USSR and America?

I am not claiming that anyone is doing anything inherently wrong.  Our choices to live an extreme lifestyle breed pride, vanity, ego, narcissism, and a host of other social ills; these social ills breed expanses to government, creating red tape, tax increases, and socialism/communism as measures to improve equality.  What happens when the hubris grows too big, war, revolutionary governments, and destruction.  The mythological Greeks would call this the coming of Nemesis to cull the acts of Hubris.  Judaism and Christianity would discuss balancing the scales of justice with mercy.  Other religions would discuss balance, choice, and compounding accountability for choices.  All truths flashed from an eternal semaphore, where man tries to explain the loss, putting morales to the stories and trying to pass along a truth grasped at, that men make choices, and when those choices include extremes, the consequence is death.

Knowledge Check!Is the future really as bright as our faith; YES!  What we choose to believe in, how we choose to exercise belief, and the need for freedom of religion to keep men on equal grounds, are all pillars to helping man live life without extremes.  Extremes breed death; living without extremes creates life; can we at least learn this lesson?  I hope so.

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Leadership Series:  Juran’s Rule and the Call Center

We have a problem, speaking plainly and simply; this problem is that a truth has been bent to escape responsibility.  Tribus (n.d.) was plain and stated:

WARNING: In presenting the reasons for change, the leader should accept the responsibility for whatever is wrong.  Remember Juran’s rule:
WHENEVER THERE IS A PROBLEM 85% OF THE TIME, IT IS IN THE SYSTEM, ONLY 15% OF THE TIME WILL IT BE THE WORKER [emphasis in original].”

Please allow me to note that I have regularly advocated that Juran underestimated and personally have found that 90-95% of the time, the problem is the process, not the workers.  This is my opinion, and I am not here to convince you but merely to help clarify Juran’s rule and provide some clarity on the writings of Tribus (n.d.) as well as build foundational understanding.

The Situation

A client company has a problem where managers are not holding their people to productivity standards.  Deep diving into the situation, we find several fundamental issues, in no particular order:

    • Human Resources tells operations what production goals can be.
    • No production goal can be set where 75% of the workers cannot easily meet the goals set.
    • Goals cannot be changed without HR approval, a lengthy research process, and a legal team review.
    • No productivity goal is published. Feeder metrics, KPIs, and so forth are not communicated or standardized.
    • No standard work crosses from one geographic location to another.
    • Facility leaders might receive training in other facilities, but the training is broken and disjointed, and the regional managers charged with holding leaders to a standard lack standards and feeder metrics to hold facility leadership accountable across regional areas.
    • Currently, no region or facility is meeting any goal regularly or uses a process that can be replicated.

Interestingly, this situation has existed for more than 15 years, and none in higher management remember a time when this situation was different.  But, every manager will quote a version of Juran’s rule to explain why they are hunting for operational processes to review and change.

Conflict vs. Contention

At its most fundamental level, conflict is about helping spur growth and development and bringing about change in an organized and logical manner.  However, I cannot stress this enough; conflict is NOT contention.  Conflict is not born of pride and a desire to feel better about yourself through violence.  Conflict can be observed in a disagreement or difference in opinion, but conflict does not include emotional hyperbole (pride).  Conflict should be about mental disturbances spurred by people seeking greater ideas and ideals, personal growth, or team development.  Does conflict lead to contention?  Yes, but only because pride entered into the disagreement, emotions were injected, and desires to be right at any cost dictated, it is time for violence.

Let me be perfectly frank, contention and conflict are not the same.  While the terms are close, they are distinct and tell different sides of the same story.  First, contention is an act of striving or an assertion.  Contention is a violent effort to obtain or protect something vehemently!  There is effort, struggle, and exertion in contention; there are violent efforts, and the core of contention is pride.  Pride breeds animosity, animosity breeds struggle, and struggle is contention, where pride demands that violence is acceptable to achieve the desired end goal.  When contending, “The ends justify the means.”

Contention is animosity personified into action, effort, and desires become evident as contention unfolds.  We cannot forget these facts about contention.  Consider the following; I went to work in a hostile atmosphere; due to a contract signed, I could not quit and find a new job, and reassignment was not going to happen.  Jealousy and pride entered because I was very good at my job, and violence followed like the sun rising after a moonless night.  Contention was born and festered, violence was perpetrated against me, and the violence was acceptable to the organizational leaders as it gave them feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction.

The violence was justified because I was “too good” at my job, made “decisions above my paygrade,” and “I needed to be taught humility.”  The result was four disastrous years of struggle, incredible stress levels, and mental torture, with physical acts of violence thrown in to spice up the environment.  I am not bemoaning my fate nor holding myself up as an example of anything, merely hoping to convey that contention stunted organizational growth in everyone unlucky enough to experience this organization during this period.  Contention is pride expressed through violence and justified to fit the individual’s desires.

Conflict is a tool; like all tools, it can build, enhance, strengthen, and create when used appropriately.  If the tool is improperly used, destruction, damage, and chaos are spawned.  Conflict happens; what a person chooses to do with that conflict and how that person considers conflicting occurrences is how the labels “good,” “bad,” “valuable,” “beneficial,” etc., are applied.  McShane and Von Gilnow (2004, p. 390) postulated, “conflict as beneficial [when] intergroup conflict improves team dynamics, increase cohesiveness, and task orientation.  [C]onditions of moderate conflict, motivates team members to work more efficiently toward goals increasing productivity.”  The sentiment regarding conflict as a tool and beneficial is echoed throughout the research of Jehn (1995).  Jehn (1995) reflected that the groups researched labeled the conflict as beneficial, good, bad, etc.  Based on the group’s dynamics and the conflicts faced and settled, the groups formed an integrated model for organizational conflict.  Essentially, how the conflict is approached and used by the team members individually and collectively dictates how beneficial the conflict is for the team and the organization.

Rao (2017) built upon previous researchers’ shoulders, perceiving conflict being a tool, and provided vital strategies for leaders to employ conflict.  Rao (2017) provided that conflict builds character, whereas crisis defines character” [p. 93].  Rao (2017) recognized that conflict labels are an individual choice.  In organizational conflict, one team could label the conflict as valuable and beneficial, while another department could label that same conflict as damaging and horrible.  When the conflict in an organization has disparate labels, understanding why conflict is disparately evaluated remains more important than changing the label.  Important to note, conflict is not competition, although occasionally used synonymously, there are important and distinct differences, important enough for a different article.

Thompson (2008) raised significant points regarding conflict, beginning with a real-life example of how conflict spurred organizational change and growth for the H. J. Heinz Co.  Thompson (2008) calls those who actively work to avoid conflict as those taking “trips to Abilene;” included in those making trips to Abilene are those who take conflict personally and choose to become offended, as well as those who choose not to see conflict as a method of ignoring conflict.  Thomas (1992) again captured how individual choices about the valuation of conflict open or close the door to the productive use of conflict.  Ignoring conflict, avoiding conflict, and other strategies of not facing conflict form the most dangerous people to be around, for when conflict grows beyond a point where it can no longer be ignored or avoided, that conflict that can destroy people, places, and things.

Thomas (1992) echoes Jehn (1995), Lencioni (2002), and Thompson (2008) in declaring the distinction between conflict as a process and the structure in which the conflict process occurred is critical to how beneficial the conflict will be for the team, business, or society.  Consider, for a moment the structure of the organizational environment.  Conflict is the mental thinking, adherence to operating procedures, and individuals working who become the instigating factor, which threatens what is known or done at the current time.  Hence, Thomas (1992) provided a keen insight into conflict as a tool, purposeful initiation of a process (conflict) to improve a structure (organizational environment).

When people recognize the power of conflict and purposefully employ conflict, everyone receives the potential to improve through conflict (Lencioni, 2002).  Thus, conflict continues to be a tool, nothing more and nothing less.  The disparities between organizational conflict labels are critical to understanding the chasm between teams evaluating conflict as the process and business structure.  The gap in understanding conflict’s results can create inhibitions to future organizational conflict and create unnecessary additional conflict processes, all while undermining the organizational structure.

Tribus – Changing the Corporate Culture

Juran’s rule is prescient but based on several foundational situations underpinning their understanding; the following applies regardless of whether the organization is building a learning society or merely keeping the money tap flowing.

    1. Operations, and by extension, operational goals, productivity standards, and processes for producing a product or service, are the sole domain of operations personnel. Does this preclude Human Resources from having a seat at the operations table; NO!  Having HR dictate operational goals to operations is akin to having a bullet tell a shooter how to aim.
    2. Training is a process. Training requires standards to judge performance as a means to declare training exceeded.  However, the quality of training, and the proof of trained personnel, is not an HR function, nor is the trainer the sole person involved in judging the efficacy of producing trained personnel.
    3. Organizational hierarchies are a process, the business culture is a process, learning is not training, and both learning and training are processes but have two different controlling entities; accountability and responsibility are a cultural extension of the process of organizing people into a functioning business organization.

Consider the fibers of an interwoven rope.  Each fiber is twisted with other fibers, then these twists of fibers are turned into more twists, repeated until eventually building a finished rope.  The same goes for these preceding foundational aspects.  Operational principles make, like many fibers twist, into a rope that can secure a multiple hundred-ton ship to a pier.  How the ropes are used is an operational process, but the core of the ropes are these essential aspects.Cut Rope with Rope - The Prepared Page

Some have argued, to their demise, that too many companies with this mindset are suffering from silo-mentality; when the obverse is true.  Each department of a functioning business organization relies upon processes similar to these foundational fibers.  Operations managers should not go into another business unit and expect to use the same tools from successful operations in those different business units.

For example, while I have been a successful operations manager, the tools I use in leading software teams are decidedly not the same tools I would employ on a production floor, even though both business units are expected to produce a product.  The people are different, their approaches to problems are different, and the environments conducive to product delivery are dynamically opposed.  Similarly, the tools HR would use to solve production issues are not opposed but definitely not employed similarly to those used in troubleshooting a problem in legal or accounting.

Juran understood these foundational situations, Tribus understood these foundational situations, and the best corporate leaders understand these foundational situations.  However, Tribus made clear something dynamic, leadership is not management, and management never achieves anything.  The dichotomies between leadership and management could not be more explicit in today’s business operations.Leadership versus Management - Entrepreneur Caribbean

Tribus (n.d.) calls upon the words of Homer Sarasohn, stating [emphasis in original]:

“THE LEADER MUST, HIMSELF, BE AN EXAMPLE OF THE CHARACTERISTICS HE WOULD LIKE TO SEE IN HIS FOLLOWERS.”

“Managers must practice what they preach.”

“DON’T SAY, “FOLLOW ME; I’M BEHIND YOU ALL THE WAY”
(IT MAKES EVERYONE GO IN CIRCLES).”

Application

What do we find in my client; managers who first do not know the work their operational employees do.  Managers who are disconnected by good jobs to the point they never engage in the better and best jobs their positions of trust demand.  The managers are not led but are managed and never were trained for their current positions.  These three items are why the client company is a dumpster fire of potential (blue money), where the bottom line evaporates, and nobody can explain why.  However, like in the Shakespearian play, “Much Ado About Nothing,” a lot of noise is made but goes nowhere fast!

Unfortunately, the much ado about nothing is worsened, not improved, by Kaizen, Six Sigma, Agile, and Lean efforts at process improvement.  The core problems are considered “untouchable,” “too dynamic,” or “too extensive” ever to be improved upon, and the new manager settles to change an operational process instead of core problems.  Essentially proclaiming, “Follow me, I’m behind you all the way,” the operational employees keep circling the drain.

What is the solution?

Solution generation for my client company begins with understanding the compelling evidence there is a problem.  Right now, the client thinks, “We are big enough to absorb these insignificant issues in the name of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.”  This is where every business begins its failure; no business can long survive dumpster fires of potential (blue money).  People leave, and this has a high replacement cost.  People work slowly or below their potential, which is a tremendous cost in green (cash) money and potential (blue money).  Operational costs increase, increasing customer costs and the loss of customers is a dynamic cost to the business.Estimating Startup Costs

After admitting a problem, the next step is envisioning an end state.  Since I began to lead men and women, I have advocated a lesson I learned as a teenager, “Never take your body where your brain has not already traveled.”  If you cannot envision the result, do not start trying to make changes until you have envisioned an end state.  I sliced my fingers badly with a knife while cutting onions.  Why did I slice my fingers and not the onion?  I did not understand the end state and assumed I could start cutting and reach an acceptable end state (diced onion).  I should never have started cutting; between the loss of the onion and the damage to my fingers, the lesson was not “Never cut onions again,” but “never begin something without a clear end state (goal) in mind.”

The third preparatory step to building a solution is START!  The client has this problem of always wanting clear instructions, plans, and supplies on hand before beginning.  The speed of business requires action, not plans and instructions.  Take the first logical step and begin!  Tribus (n.d.) makes this clear with the assurance, “There is a sensible first step,” take that step!  I will reiterate a point Tribus (n.d.) makes, employees work IN a system of processes, and the manager should work ON the system of processes, with the employee’s help.  A manager should be analogous to a mentor, who, like a leader, after understanding the vision, looks sideways and builds people to meet their level before taking that next logical step into the darkness.

Conclusion

The simple truth is that Juran’s rule has been used as an excuse to dodge responsibility in too many operations, businesses, and organizations.  Like my client, the good news is that change is possible with the people you have right now.  My client is not a bad company; your company is not inherently bad.  People are intrinsically good, and when we better understand the fibers that help tie Juran’s rule to reality, we can employ reframing to shut down the noise and move from much ado about nothing to effective management and leadership.  How do we reframe:

    1. Establish legitimacy and shift from passive to active.
    2. Bring outsiders into the discussion, but do not shift responsibility for developing the solution or owning the goals.
    3. Get the stakeholder’s definitions in writing – Common words, AREN’T. Common understanding; is a goal to strive towards.
    4. Ask what is missing
    5. Consider multiple categories, seek out those subject matter experts, and add them to the discussion as equals
    6. Analyze positive and negative data equally without bias
    7. Question the objectives, focus on the future and keep moving forward.

As we, the leaders of call centers, strive to change our understanding, realize our roles, and build people, we will build people, not processes, to meet the future.  The first step is committing to the decision framed in the question, “Is your company a money tap or a service to the greater good of society?”

References:

The references are included if you want to further research conflict as beneficial.

Amason, A. C. (1996).  Distinguishing the effects of functional and dysfunctional conflict on strategic decision making: Resolving a paradox for top management teams.  Academy of Management Journal, 39(1), 123-148.  doi:http://dx.doi.org.contentproxy.phoenix.edu/10.2307/256633

Baron, R. A. (1991).  Positive Effects of Conflict: A Cognitive Perspective.  Employee Responsibilities & Rights Journal, 4(1), 25-36.

Brazzel, M. (2003).  Chapter XIII: Diversity conflict and diversity conflict management.  In D. L. Plummer (Ed.), Handbook of diversity management: Beyond awareness to competency based learning (pp. 363-406).  Lanham, MD: University Press of America, Inc.

Du, F., Erkens, D. H., & Xu, K. (2018).  How trust in subordinates affects service quality: Evidence from a large property management firm.  Business.Illinois.edu. Retrieved from https://business.illinois.edu/accountancy/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2018/03/Managerial-Symposium-2018-Session-IV-Du-Erkens-and-Xu.pdf

Jehn, K. A. (1995).  A multi-method exanimation of the benefits and detriments of intragroup conflict.  Administrative Science Quarterly, 40, 256-282.

Lencioni, P. (2002).  The five dysfunctions of a team: A leadership fable.  Hoboken, NJ.  John Wiley & Sons.

Lumineau, F., Eckerd, S., & Handley, S. (2015).  Inter-organizational conflicts.  Journal of Strategic Contracting and Negotiation, 1(1), 42-64.  doi:10.1177/2055563614568493

McShane, S. L., & Von Gilnow, M. A. (2004). Organizational Behavior, Third Edition.  Boston: McGraw-Hill Companies.

Moeller, C., & Kwantes, C. T. (2015).  Too Much of a Good Thing?  Emotional Intelligence and Interpersonal Conflict Behaviors.  Journal of Social Psychology, 155(4), 314-324.  doi:10.1080/00224545.2015.1007029

Rao, M. (2017).  Tools and techniques to resolve organizational conflicts amicably.  Industrial and Commercial Training, 49(2), 93-97.  doi:10.1108/ict-05-2016-0030

Thomas, K. W. (1992).  Conflict and conflict management: Reflections and update.  Journal of Organizational Behavior, 13(3), 265-274.

Thompson, L. L. (2008).  Chapter 8: Conflict in teams – Leveraging differences to create opportunity.  In Making the team: A guide for managers (3rd ed., pp. 201-220).  Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

VISN 17 – Letter of Customer Complaint

Attention:  Some information has been removed to maintain privacy or merely to protect the names of those involved.

08 July 2022

Director VISN 17
Department of Veterans Affairs
2301 E Lamar Blvd.
Suite 650
Arlington, TX
76006

Subject: Customer/Patient Complaint – The Failing Customer/Patient Experience in EL Paso, TX

Greetings,

It has been my misfortune to have been a patient in the VAOPC El Paso for a year.  In that time, my primary care provider changed three times without my consent or knowledge.  With the current PCP, I have had consults waiting for over a year, and in the latest example of disastrous service, my ability to communicate with the PCP has been closed for “abuse of secure messaging.”  Please allow me to elaborate with some specific examples and questions:

  1. I suffer from involuntary movements; these movements affect my voice. The pain in my neck dictates the severity and the frequency of involuntary movements, verbal stuttering, and loss of voice entirely.  The pain in my neck also dictates the volume of tinnitus in my ears and my ability to tolerate light.  The PCP, Neurologist, and every other PACT team provider have witnessed these issues.  These are facts and are recorded in the EHR.
  1. On 06 July 2022, an ER Doctor at Three Crosses Regional Hospital, Las Cruces, referred to these involuntary movements as dystonic tremors. 09 May 2022, Fort Bliss, Community Consult, called these same involuntary movements Tourette’s.  Why is this pertinent; from 2010, when intermittent bouts of wild mood swings and involuntary movements became 24/7/365 and present, none of the VA providers would venture an opinion about what these movements were or how to treat them.  Bringing me to my first question, aren’t all those who attain a capstone degree supposed to be lifelong learners?  If so, why are providers not held to a standard of continual learning and access to research libraries?  For my alma mater, I have access to medical libraries and spend an inordinate amount of time researching the test results and imaging reports to ensure I am an informed customer when I enter a doctor’s appointment.  Why is my provider not held to the same standard of professional courtesy?
  1. Regarding available learning opportunities and research resources, my neurologist related that research is discouraged, access denied, and funds never available to provide access to a research library. Funding, I see the Community Care amounts the VA Pays out, and because I have external insurance, I know what my insurance company pays the VA.  There is a significant disparity between what a provider is paid and what the VA receives from third-party insurance providers.  Why are funds not available to access research libraries for the providers?  Why can my PCP relate to my face that she cannot answer questions and can only prescribe drugs and send me to someone else to answer questions?  Even when I provide peer-reviewed research, the question is simply, “Does this research apply to me?” and I cannot obtain an answer.  Does this sound to you like an engaged and professional learner?
  1. Speaking only of treatment from 15 May 2021 to the present, at the EL Paso VA-OPC. The PCP has shown nothing but passive-aggressiveness, raw hostility, and a refusal to act or listen from day 1!  Until 22 March 2022, I was willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the PCP, I filed a complaint with the Patient Advocate, and a claim/problem was lodged.  A senior medical person called me, and I was to expect action.  The result, I got lied to by the provider, no follow-up from those responsible, and the Patient Advocate could not find the claim/complaint.
  1. Why was the Patient Advocate’s complaint closed without contacting me, the patient? Are you aware of the OIG inspection into this fallacious and diabolical process found at other VISNs, VAMCs, and clinics?  If so, why is this occurring at the El Paso VAOPC?  If you are unaware of this problem from the OIG or that this is ongoing at the El Paso VAOPC, I have to wonder.
  1. When reporting my ER visit to my provider to ask a series of questions, I discovered that access to Secure Messaging from myhealh.va.gov had been removed. I called my PCP and left a message asking for a call with the call center, no answer.  I called the Patient Advocate and waited on hold for 30-minutes on 07 July 2022 and 30-minutes on 08 July 2022.  Then an additional 15-minutes on 08 July 2022 to finally reach a person, who constantly interrupted me, and eventually transferred me to a party I had already spoken to.  Tell me, is this acceptable phone etiquette and the highest level of customer experience a patient can expect in VISN 17?  Better still, what is the expectation for the customer experience?
  1. 07 July 2022, the PCP’s nurse, called me and began to harangue me. Then she claimed she was not haranguing and had been “trying” to contact me.  Tell me, if you have a cell phone number on file, and the EL Paso VAOPC is regularly calling that number to conduct business, would you call a spouse’s number and leave a voicemail if you are trying to reach someone?  Wouldn’t you use secure messaging to conduct business if you know that patient struggles with verbalizing?  When I finished work (01 July 2022), I work from home; my spouse brought me her phone, complaining of a missed call and voicemail and asking me why anyone would be calling her phone to reach me, especially on a Friday before a long holiday weekend.  I call this behavior designed incompetence.  By calling my spouse, the nurse can claim, “I tried to reach the patient and left a voicemail.”  In reality, the nurse intentionally called a non-primary contact number for the patient and put the onus on the patient for the nurse’s inability to do her job promptly and efficiently.  Tell me, is this acceptable behavior in VISN 17 because this is the level of incompetence I have struggled with from day 1, and I would like to know what to expect moving forward.

Sidenote: the nurse, when she finally reached me, calling my cell phone number on 07 July 2022, blamed me for not getting ahold of me.  Not happy, not impressed, but this is the level of designed incompetence it has been my displeasure to expect from this PACT team, leading me to ask, “What is the path forward?”  The PCP blatantly and profusely refuses to answer this question.  The senior doctor claiming responsibility has declined to answer this question by changing the topic.  The nurse cannot answer this question.  The patient advocate refuses to attempt to answer this question.

  1. During the call on 07 July 2022, the nurse related that my secure messaging “privileges” had been suspended for 90-days due to “abuse of secure messaging.” Really, I have a known vocal problem, from spinal injuries to my neck, and secure messaging is the only reliable means of communicating with the clinic.  How is “secure messaging” a privilege?  How else can a patient who struggles vocally communicate with the clinic?  I am reminded on EVERY SINGLE SECURE MESSAGE that there is a 72-hour response to be expected.  I have proven my ability and willingness to wait; how long should I wait?  Since my PCP and the majority of specialty clinics at the El Paso VAOPC never respond, let alone within 72 hours, what is a patient supposed to do?  We cannot call the clinic.  We cannot get messages to the clinic verbally without going through the call center, which adds a new level of human error to the red tape of communicating with a provider.  Hence I ask, what is a patient to do to communicate with the clinic?  Of course, the follow-up question remains, when should a patient expect a response?  72-calendar hours (3-days), 72 business hours (9 business days which is the better part of two work weeks), or something else entirely?
  1. In my inbox, I have messages that have never been responded to by the patient advocates, the neurological clinic, and the PCP, to name a few. Speaking of expectations, in November 2021, my PCP and I discussed a nerve conductivity test for my hands.  As of 07 July 2022, I am still reminding the nurse to ask the doctor when I can expect a nerve conductivity test.  This is not the most egregious or the only example of the lack of response to patient experienced, but this example remains a sign of what I have been dealing with.  What is the standard expectation for turnover a provider at the VA should complete a consult within?  On the topic of expectations, after a medical appointment, how long does a provider have to enter clinical notes into the EHR and sign them?  A regular feature on the OIG reports is that unsigned EHR notes are a root cause of a veteran’s death or permanent injury.  At VISN 17, what is the written and published guideline for a provider to enter and sign notes after a clinical visit?  I have sat with providers who use Dragon speech-to-type software to capture the clinical notes and handle the consults while I sat in their offices.  Why is this not standard operating procedure?
  1. Finally, dystonic tremors and Tourette’s are movement disorders where driving is either closely monitored by the state or refused. Several times, the PCP has needed to hold a video appointment and has actively chosen not to use VA-approved and secure tools to conduct these appointments or has blown off these appointments using the weakest and most paper-thin excuses.  Are VISN 17 providers allowed to choose the technology for video appointments, or are they mandated to use VA-approved technology?  Several times, the PCP has called me, using speaker phone, to conduct a phone appointment.  I have asked about the security problems in having the provider’s side of the call on speaker phone, and the PCP dodges, ducks, and evades answering these questions.  HIPAA is a really interesting law, and the technology employed to pass HIPAA-protected information is regulated and reported annually in OIG reports, where the VA is always negligent in honoring HIPAA law.  I have some serious concerns about the behavior of the PCP, who continues to refuse to answer direct questions about why and the privacy and security of my HIPAA information.  On 08 July 2022, what did the PCP order a face-to-face appointment that requires me to drive into El Paso?  What should I expect from this careless PCP moving forward?  Why wasn’t I assigned a PCP in Las Cruces?

I am an I/O Psychologist, I study the VA as a hobby, so I can more fully write about the OIG reports and summate them on my blog.  This letter and any future communications will be posted there to maintain transparency in communications following the pattern established long ago.  As a published leadership development, adult education, and customer service professional with considerable experience, I can help identify the root causes and help design solutions for the El Paso VAOPC and VISN 17, or I can continue to be a customer/patient who documents and asks tough questions.  Either way, I am not some low-level functionary to sweep under the rug.

The immediate solution I desire is to reinstate my secure messaging abilities ASAP.  Then, since the El Paso VAOPC was able to change my provider quickly three times in succession last year, it is past time for the PCP to be removed from my PACT Team and investigated for dereliction of duties.  I offer my services to improve VISN 17, repair the damage, and ensure this insanity never transpires again.

I await your timely response!

Sincerely,

Dave Salisbury Ph.D./MBA
Dual Service Veteran
Industrial and Organizational Psychologist

CC:  Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

“That’s Crazy!!!” – More Chronicles from the VA (Ch 9)

I-CareThe Department of Veterans Affairs – Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) regularly crows about reducing the backlog, improving the veteran experience, and making changes to deliver on the promise.  Every so often, another article is spread, mainly by the VA Public Relations department (PR), about how they meet the legislated obligations.  Then, unsurprisingly the truth is revealed, the curtain thrown back, and the lie exposed.  The Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) is helping pull the curtain back, and the truth should infuriate every American.  In an investigative report dated 22 June 2022 and linked, we find the following:

“… The VBA disregarded privacy procedures so it could use a workload tracking system more quickly without receiving the appropriate security authorization.  The Mission Accountability Support Tracker (MAST) helps quantify the work VBA’s support services staff perform in response to employee requests for facility, equipment, and vehicle management; reasonable accommodation; and identification card issuance and renewal.  Because staff use personally identifiable information (PII) in their work, the information could be compromised in an unauthorized, unsecured application.  The VA-OIG found that VBA and the Office of Information and Technology (OIT) did not correctly follow privacy and security procedures.  VBA’s privacy threshold analysis was inaccurate, and OIT did not conduct a privacy impact assessment.  OIT’s misclassification of MAST as an asset resulted in insufficient security controls.  Further, VBA lacked the authority to operate MAST before using it in regional offices.”

Lacking authority equates to a leadership failure to follow their standard operating procedures (SOP).  PII being inappropriately released, nothing new at the VBA, or the VHA for that matter.  Losing veterans’ identities and taking advantage of systems for personal gain, regardless of the cost, is nothing new or surprising.  This should be where the VA organizational leadership should be focused; yet, what are they doing?  Where is Congressional oversight and scrutiny?VA 3

FY 2017, the VBA leaders devised a scheme to have third-party vendors conduct compensation and pension exams to deliver on the promise to clear the backlog on veterans’ claims.  Since FY 2017, the VBA has paid over $6.5 Billion on this scheme, and the VA-OIG found in a report dated 08 June 2022, “Some of the exams produced by vendors have not met contractual accuracy requirements.  As a result, claims processors may have used inaccurate or insufficient medical evidence to decide veterans’ claims.”  Is anyone surprised this is the result?  The compensation and pension exam is the key to accuracy in claim completion; yet, inaccurate claims are still being adjudicated wrongly, which is significantly damaging veterans and their families!

From the report, we find the following:

VBA’s governance of and accountability for the exam program needs to improve.  The identified deficiencies appear to have persisted, at least partly because of limitations with VBA’s management and oversight of the program at the time of the review.”VA 3

The VBA’s leaders designed this scheme, shackled the program with ineptitude, and hindered the improvement of the program.  Designed incompetence cannot get any better than this, and the leadership must be held accountable!  Fraud, waste, and abuse remain pillars in Federal Government governance, so why are these leaders not being held liable?

Michael Bowman, Director of IT and Security Audits, in recent Congressional Testimony, made the following claim:

Secure IT systems and networks are essential to VA’s fundamental mission of providing eligible veterans and their families with benefits and services.  VA’s information security program and its practices must protect the confidentiality, integrity, and access to VA systems and data.”

The audacity of this director to claim “confidentiality, integrity, and access” as being secure would be laughable if it weren’t so inept!  How would a non-VA Employee know the IT system is fraught with problems?  VA-OIG report regarding FISMA compliance, Dallas, Texas.  The Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014 (FISMA).  FISMA is a United States federal law that defines a comprehensive framework to protect government information, operations, and assets against natural and manmade threats.  FISMA OIG inspections are focused on four security control areas that apply to local facilities.  They have been selected based on their level of risk: configuration management controls, contingency planning controls, security management controls, and access controls.VA 3

What did the VA-OIG find?  “Without effective configuration management, users do not have adequate assurance that the system and network will perform as intended and to the extent needed to support the CMOP’s missions.  The access control deficiencies create risks of unauthorized access to critical network resources, inability to respond effectively to incidents, loss of personally identifiable information, or loss of life.”  All political speak for inept leaders and deplorable leadership actions.  IT/IS systems continue to fail, and the director claims the system has integrity; despicable and detestable!

Worse, the same FISMA inspection occurred at the same outpatient pharmacy mail facility in Tuscon, Arizona.  The same problems were found, in the same systems, manned by the same inept people and led by the same poor leadership.  Integrity, only if the word means sharing ineptitude between different facilities.  Access to systems and data protection, can anyone honestly trust that the IT system at the VBA or VHA is providing the fundamental tools to meet the mission?VA 3

On the topic of IT system integrity, can anyone forget the continuing problems in delivering a functional electronic health record system to the VHA?  How many billions of dollars must be wasted before Congress stops paying for this albatross?  The VA-OIG has substantiated that “… many quality, patient safety, and organizational performance metrics were unavailable, including metrics needed for hospital accreditation.  Additionally, the VA-OIG found that access metrics were largely unavailable.  The VA-OIG remains concerned that deficits in new EHR metrics may negatively affect organizational performance, quality and patient safety, and access to care.”  How’s that integrity doing?  Is it trustworthy?

05 May 2022, failures were discovered in a joint DoD and VHA review of the new electronic health record system.  The new EHR has no plan to create interoperability, yet interoperability was the main selling point for spending billions of dollars on a new EHR.  Would you believe the VA-OIG recommends the DoD and VHA review federal laws and direct the offices overseeing the EHR program to begin complying?  Would Congress please ask, why haven’t the program managers for the HER already been complying with Federal Law?  How about demanding action to recompense the taxpayers who have been defrauded?VA 3

In April 2022, VA-OIG Michael J. Missal addressed Congress in a statement entitled, “At What Cost? – Ensuring Quality Representation in the Veteran Benefit Claims Process.”  The VA-OIG’s mission is “preventing and addressing fraud and other crimes, waste, and abuse in VA programs and operations.”  General Missal then discussed the integrity of VA processes to “help ensure that veterans receive the benefits, health care, and services they have earned through their service to our country.”  Would Congress please ask how the VA-OIG is fulfilling its mission to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse?

The VA-OIG operates a hotline that receives approximately 30,000 complaints annually from veterans, family members, VA employees, and the public.”  If the 30,000 complaints are presumed to be stable, across just the years I have documented the VA’s abuses, then the VA-OIG has received upwards of 360,000 complaints over the last 12 years.  Would Congress please ask about the success in promoting change, reducing fraud, waste, and abuse, and curbing the veterans being actively harmed by the VA, the VHA, and VBA?VA 3

Congress receives these VA-OIG reports first; what is Congress doing to scrutinize the executive branch?  Where is the progress?  The VA-OIG reports annually to Congress, but improvement never occurs.  Permanent change never occurs.  The same people are making the same excuses, using the same flowery language, and nothing ever happens to improve things.  Worse, the same people maintain the same jobs, who pays, the veterans and their families, and the American taxpayer through the nose as the VA loses more and more money!

I do not know about any Congressional elected leader, but I am through buying the Kool-Aid the VA-OIG is selling:

The VA-OIG’s work is focused on protecting VA programs and operations from waste, fraud, and abuse as well as improving their efficiency and effectiveness.”

On a single topic that the VA-OIG has reported on multiple times and remains critically important to all veterans and their families, it is reporting needs for improvement in VHA and VBA suicide prevention.  From the report, we find the following:

“… Suicide prevention coordinators at VA medical facilities are required to reach out to veterans referred from the Veterans Crisis Line.  Coordinators provide access to assessment, intervention, and effective care; encourage veterans to seek care, benefits, or services with the VA system or in the community; and follow up to connect veterans with appropriate care and services after the call.”

The findings from the VA-OIG report are almost criminal in the negligence of leadership to perform the jobs they hold:

The VA-OIG found that coordinators mistakenly closed some veteran referrals because coordinators lacked the proper training, guidance, and oversight necessary to maximize chances of reaching at-risk veterans referred by the crisis line.  VHA lacked comprehensive performance metrics to assess coordinators’ management of crisis line referrals, and coordinators lacked clear guidance on managing crisis line referrals.  Until VHA provides appropriate training, issues adequate guidance, and improves performance metrics, coordinators could miss opportunities to reach and assist at-risk veterans.”VA 3

Why did the media bury this report?  Suicide prevention continues to be a significant military and veteran issue, but this program’s designed incompetence should be a major story on all media networks.  More, this VA-OIG report should be a talking point for every congressional representative seeking re-election.  Why is this not the case?  Integrity requires honesty, honesty and integrity requires action.  When will Congress take action?

How many dead veterans will it take before Congress takes action?  31 May 2022 VA-OIG report:

The VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted an inspection to review the care of an unresponsive patient by Emergency Department staff and the subsequent response of leaders at the Malcom Randall VA Medical Center (facility) after the patient’s death at the University of Florida Health Shands Hospital (Shands).  The OIG determined that facility Emergency Department nurses failed to provide emergency care to an unresponsive patient who arrived by ambulance.  Despite emergency medical services (EMS) personnel having relayed, while en route to the facility, the criticality of the patient’s condition and the limited patient identifying information available, Emergency Department nurses and an Administrative Officer of the Day wasted critical time concentrating efforts on whether the patient was a veteran (which the patient was, but not so identified by the nurses) versus patient care.  As a result, EMS personnel reloaded the patient into the ambulance for transport to Shands.”VA 3

The staff failed to follow EMTALA, and a veteran died due to the inaction and inappropriate focus of the medical providers.  This is not the first or second breach of EMTALA, the federal law requiring any patient presenting at an emergency department receiving federal funds to be treated; yet, what will it take to get Congress off their thumbs?

12 May 2022, deficiencies in care led to a patient dying at the Charlie Norwood VAMC, Augusta, Georgia.  The VA-OIG substantiated that:

medical-surgical unit nursing leaders did not have adequate quality controls or training to ensure the provision of safe and effective alcohol withdrawal nursing care.”  “Primary care staff failed to provide sufficient care coordination and treatment.  A provider failed to address the patient’s abnormal chest images and poor nutrition and failed to communicate test results to the patient as required.  A primary care nurse failed to respond to the patient’s secure message request for assistance two days before surgery.

Additionally, a barium swallow test was not scheduled.  The surgical team completed a preoperative assessment but failed to detect the patient’s overall poor health.  During the patient’s hospital stay after surgery, medical-surgical nurses did not consistently assess alcohol withdrawal symptoms or administer medications as required.”VA 3

My wife is fond of saying, these oversights and failures occur in non-Government hospitals, and this incident should not be considered indicative of the whole system lacking similarly.  Yet, civilian hospitals have lawyers by the dozen looking for a reason to sue providers for malpractice, and the government hospitals protect against accountability and responsibility.  Worse, you will never know the problems unless you track these incidents.

Do you know why I keep declaring there is a problem with designed incompetence; several veterans suffered T-12 burst fractures and multiple rib fractures, all because of poor documentation and even worse communication.  This is a life-changing injury, and the VA-OIG found the VA providers to have culpability but no responsibility due to a lack of documentation.  Delays in provider documenting in the electronic health record the provider’s notes delayed care for another veteran who also suffered life-changing spinal injuries after receiving non-care at a VA facility.  The VA-OIG cannot conclusively document the tie between poor care being received and the injuries sustained by the veteran, all because of delays in the provider documenting treatment.VA 3

Tell me, does anything discussed above reflect the words of Inspector General Michael J. Missal, who claimed the following in Congressional Testimony:

VHA continues to face enormous challenges in providing high-quality care to the millions of veterans it serves.  Despite these challenges, the VA-OIG has witnessed countless examples of veterans receiving the care they need and deserve—delivered by a committed, compassionate, and highly skilled workforce [emphasis mine].”VA 3

Does a provider killing a veteran reflect a committed, compassionate, or highly skilled workforce?  How many veterans must be permanently injured by the VHA providers to reflect a committed, compassionate, and highly skilled workforce?  How often will the electronic health record fail before highly skilled workers are displayed?

Plato 2Unfortunately, the VA-OIG reports discussed are not even the tip of the iceberg of what is happening.  My apologies, dear readers; I have been remiss in my reporting duties.  Why have I been remiss, because my health went sideways since April when I had a medical procedure completed that was advised but not appropriate.  The VHA and VBA are sick organizations and desperately need scrutiny and standards, new leadership, and written organizational policies.  Help me force these nefarious characters into the sunshine for a good dose of sunshine disinfectant, and let’s change the world for the better.

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

The Coffin Where Comedy Goes to Die – More VA Chronicles

I-CareConsider something with me: if you need to proactively reach out to a customer using a phone, would you call that customer’s or his spouse’s phone?  Customer service is all about the customer experience; in an effort to provide customer support, do you call a customer’s or their spouse’s phone?  The answer is obvious, yet the EL Paso VA Outpatient Clinic did the exact opposite of common sense, even though the customer had, within two previous hours, called the EL Paso VA OPC using his phone number on record.

Earlier in the week, a face-to-face patient appointment had to be changed to a VA Video Connect (VVC) appointment, and the provider never showed up.  Later blaming the patient for not showing up to their appointment, even though the patient was online 15 minutes early to the VVC and every 30-minutes logged back into the VVC as the provider never showed.  They are eventually blaming the patient for failing to communicate with the clinic.  Facts essential to know, at 0200 of the morning of the appointment which the provider’s nurse had responded to.  At 0900, the call center changed the in-person appointment to a VVC after contacting the provider for permission to change the appointment to VVC.VA 3

Irony remains critical to comedic gold; the irony of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is the issues discussed above are how veterans are abused daily, and the bureaucrats running the VA do not realize how ironic the designed incompetence has become.  Unfortunately, irony died, and comedy is being sealed into its coffin at the VA.  Veterans are being abused to death, and I can no longer laugh at this ineptitude!

Atlanta VA, as reported by Military.com, 73-year-old Vietnam veteran Phillip Webb is filmed receiving hits and kicks from a VA Employee.  The VA Employee, Lawrence Gaillard Jr., a patient advocate at the VA outpatient clinic in downtown Atlanta, was arrested and charged on April 28 for allegedly assaulting and suspended without pay.  There is nothing to laugh at with this event.  While this event remains under criminal investigation, the abuse at the VA towards veterans from the bureaucrats has not scratched the surface!  Where are the Congressional leaders in demanding change at the VA?VA 3

The Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) has spent another month reporting on investigations of more malfeasance, misfeasance, and designed incompetence masquerading as bureaucratic inertia.  If your job included the safe handling and storing of medicines, would you be motivated to properly refrigerate the medication, especially if it meant keeping your job?  In January 2019, the VA reported a loss of over $1 million due to improperly stored medication, e.g., refrigerated.  In 2019, the VA was told to improve their safe handling and storing of medicines to prevent additional losses.  2021 more than $1.5 million was lost for the same reason, improperly refrigerated medication.  2022 the VA-OIG has concluded that the VA has done nothing to improve the medication losses.

If we use the annual loss, rounding down to $1 Million, and then presume this has been going on since 2000, we have the potential for a loss of around $20 million.  The Federal Government is always going on about Fraud, Waste, and Abuse, curbing these losses and reporting them.  Will some congressional elected leader please tell me why Congress refuses to act to stop fraud, waste, and abuse?  The full report is nothing but fraud, waste, and abuse, and while the VA-OIG suggests the VA has taken “some steps” to improve the potential of losses, more needs to be done; yet, where is Congress?  Where is the VA Leadership in fixing the problem?

Regarding medication, let’s talk about how prescriptions continue to be delayed and shipped in wrong doses forcing the patient to cut and presume how much meets their needs and prescription level.  Let’s discuss how the providers continue to play games with medications, especially the pain management medications, using the erroneous excuse, “Fighting the opioid crisis.”  I know the political talking points; what I do not know is how these blatant excuses continue to possess traction.VA 3

The Albuquerque VAMC is back in the news due to the continued failure of leadership; why you ask is the Albuquerque VAMC in the VA-OIG reports, they are failing to help in the opioid crisis by delaying the delivery of medication.  From the report, we find the following:

The OIG substantiated that pharmacists declined early refills of buprenorphine despite prescribing providers’ documented clinical rationales, which increased patients’ risk for adverse clinical outcomes associated with interruption of buprenorphine treatment.  The OIG substantiated that justification for declining early refills was incorrectly based on a facility policy that was not applicable to the use of buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid use disorder [emphasis mine].”

Did you get the why?  Leadership at the VAMC is beyond subpar, has been failing the veterans of Albuquerque, and is protected by the ridiculously inept leaders at VISN 22, as documented multiple times over the last five years.  Yet, still, nothing is done to remove the leaders, stop the abuse, and fix the problems; thus, I ask again, why?  Where are the elected leaders in scrutinizing the executive branch?  Even the VA-OIG has reported, “actions taken by leaders did not fully address the reported concerns.”  If this is not a perfect definition of designing incompetence, I’ll eat my hat!VA 3

The VA-OIG’s recommendations reflect the inadequacy of the VA-OIG to demand change and then enforce corrective action effectively.  More designed incompetence and the crosshairs are clearly on the executive and legislative branches to act.  This means that you, the voter, have the power to demand change!

Dare you think the Albuquerque VAMC is the only VA having problems?  The VA-OIG reports the VAMC in Hampton, Virginia is also back in the news.  Consider the patient and the family in the following, “… multiple providers’ failure[d] to communicate, act on, and document abnormal test results from July 2019 until April 2021, when the patient was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer.”  More failure of VA leaders to act, and “… facility leaders did not initiate peer reviews within three days, and facility staff did not submit patient safety reports as required.”  Where is the outrage that another veteran is needlessly suffering, the family is needlessly struggling, and the VA Leaders keep their jobs?VA 3

We began this chronicle with a Vietnam Veteran being beaten and kicked by a VA employee who was employed to defend patients, where leaders did not act upon the incident for two months, leading to questions and concerns about the potential cover-up, hushing of witnesses, or manipulation of evidence to hide, what for all intents and purposes appears to be, employee criminal activity.  While the attacker retains their constitutional right to innocence until proven guilty, significant questions need immediate redress, and the VAMC leadership needs to answer these questions.

Continuing on the failure of leadership, the Tuscaloosa VAMC in Alabama shows more leadership failure to address patients’ safety and security in long-term care.  The VA-OIG identified that the administration could not fill critical staff positions, possibly due to the toxic nature of the leadership.  One of the more critical failures of leadership deals with the elopement of patients from the care facility, and the leaders appear to remain inadequate to improve the facility and patient safety.  Why are these leaders still in positions of power in this facility?VA 3

As an organizational psychologist, the continued failure of leadership represents a real and present danger.  The VA-OIG appears to be aiding and abetting the absence of leadership at the VA.  If you think I am exaggerating, consider the continued failure to comply with the payment integrity information act (PIIA).  The VA was failing to comply before PIIA, and the following from the VA-OIG report is telling:

In FY 2021, VA reported improper and unknown payment estimates totaling $5.12 billion for seven programs and activities.  Of that amount, about $1.97 billion (around 39 percent) represented a monetary loss.  The remaining approximately $3.14 billion (about 61 percent) was considered either a nonmonetary loss or unknown payment that cannot be recovered.  Though VA had an overall decrease in total improper payments and unknown payments, the overall monetary loss more than doubled from $892 million in FY 2020 to $1.97 billion [emphasis mine].”

PIIA was legislated and put into effect in March 2020, FY 2021 is the first year, and the investigative reports represent the VA’s inaugural failure to comply.  All facts are desperately pertinent in this report and necessary to understand just how ridiculously inept the VA leadership continues to act.  10% of $5.12 Billion is $512 Million; the VA leadership from the VA-OIG is “encouraged” to become compliant and lose less than $512 Million in FY 2022.  Tell me how “encouraging” your leadership will be losing that much money?

From the VA-OIG Report,  “VA satisfied nine of the 10 requirements; however, it is not considered to be compliant because it failed to report an improper and unknown payment rate of less than 10 percent.”  PIIA was legislated to reduce improper payments to less than 10%; tell me, if you improperly paid someone $512 Million, would you keep your job?  Never forget, every Federal Government facility must have posted a poster discussing how to Report Fraud, Waste, and Abuse; what do you call losing $512 Million?  Would someone please explain why losing less than $512 Million is an improvement?  How is losing less than 10% acceptable and not Fraud, Waste, and Abuse or credible accounting?VA 3

Finally, we conclude with additional reports of criminal enterprises by VA employees, as if anyone is surprised:

  • Bethann Kierczak of Southgate, Michigan, a registered nurse at the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center in Detroit, pleaded guilty to charges related to COVID-19 vaccination record cards fraud. According to court records, Kierczak admitted to stealing or embezzling authentic COVID-19 vaccination record cards from the VA hospital—along with vaccine lot numbers necessary to make the cards appear legitimate—and then reselling those cards and information to individuals within the metro Detroit community.  Kierczak began the scheme as early as May 2021 and continued through September 2021, selling the cards for $150 to $200 each.  The VA OIG investigated this case with the VA Police and the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, a partnership among the Criminal Division, US Attorney’s Offices, and the US Health and Human Services OIG.”
  • Melissa Flores was sentenced to two years in prison and $110,000 in restitution for her role in a scheme to defraud VA. Flores and a codefendant allegedly created aliases and obtained or created fraudulent documents to make it appear they were the heirs of various individuals who had died.  Between 2013 and 2019, the two codefendants defrauded VA out of more than $430,000 and the Michigan Department of Treasury out of more than $40,000 in unclaimed property.  Flores pleaded guilty to two counts of false pretenses last May and one count of forgery.”
  • Bruce Minor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in connection with his scheme to embezzle money from his former employer, the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. In April 2022, Minor was charged with theft of government funds stemming from his theft of more than $487,000 in VA travel reimbursement funds, which he helped administer as part of his official duties as a travel clerk.  To perpetuate the theft, Minor created fraudulent travel reimbursement claims in the names of at least three other VA employees and then diverted the fraudulently obtained funds into bank accounts he controlled.  According to court documents, in an email to medical center management, Minor admitted to stealing approximately $13,000 in travel funds.  However, a subsequent investigation showed that he stole upwards of $487,000 between December 2015 and September 2019.  The VA OIG conducted this investigation.”

PatriotismWhat connects all three of these criminals; the failures of VA leadership to scrutinize their employees.  Does this remind you of additional leaders, maybe those in Congress who continue to refuse to scrutinize the executive branch?  The US Constitution established three co-equal branches, the judicial protects the Constitution, the Executive operates the government, and the Legislative has two jobs write laws for the executive branch to operate and scrutinize the executive branch as it operates.  Each branch answers to the other, and all branches must operate inside the US Constitution.  America needs the legislative branch to begin doing its job, and we, the voters, are the only way to begin demanding the change we need!?u=https1.bp.blogspot.com-aqaqk18MHoEWRHHsCi_TyIAAAAAAAAAXc7hY4JQuyylIQHYudoR8sbezGZntic4SSwCLcBs640Betrayal2BSayings2Band2BQuotes2Bwww.mostphrases.blogspot.be.jpg&f=1&nofb=1

If comedy is dead, and it is, the VA is the coffin where comedy went to die.  Let’s stop laughing and start acting!  Join me?

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Courtesy: The Key to Civil Society

Not to state the obvious, Roe v. Wade has been rescinded, and the political left has become the antithesis of civil society.  Acting in a manner that is rude, boorish, and bloody awful.  I know sugar-hyped, caffeine-strung-out, two-years-old who behave better than the supposed adults rioting, looting, and threatening violence.  Frankly, after the summer of rage (2020), I am fed up with the media cheerleading criminal behavior in the name of expressing themselves; let us now affirm and cherish as sacred courtesy as the preeminent civil virtue needed in society.

Elder Marvin J. Ashton, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-Day Saints (October 1976), addressed the topic of courtesy while discussing self-management.  Quoting Elder Ashton, “Courtesy and self-respect are necessary ingredients” in properly being a member of any society, business, family, etc.  In a previous article, the discourteous behavior of the political left was discussed, especially those who choose to join the LGBTQ+ communities.  Why has courtesy dropped so precipitously in American society and too other cultures across the globe?  Elder Ashton discusses the answer:

Seeing men and women who think, speak, and act with propriety in any community or personal situation is refreshing and uplifting.  Good manners are necessary for the decency and peace of community living.  [Good Manners] should be a matter of grave concern to all, yet we hear and read less about their cultivation than we do about dieting and “daily dozens” to enhance our personal acceptance and development.”

Stemming from self-discipline, courtesy is an outward expression of inner strength, and our manners precede us into new situations.  As a kid, one of the deadliest sins we could commit was being late to an appointment, meeting, or scheduled event.  You could lose your temper, drop the worst language, but if you were late, you were in big trouble!  Sure, foul language was a punishment multiplier but was a punishment reducer if you were not late.  In the US Army, we were taught if you are not 15-minutes early, you are late.  15-minutes early was on time, building the mental toughness to understand the military requirement of “Hurry up and wait.”Common Courtesy Quotes Quotations. QuotesGram

Yet, what do we see too often since 2000, less and less is society expecting a person to be “on time,” let alone early to a scheduled appointment.  Worse, recently, I had a doctor’s appointment, and the staff in the office were grateful I had shown up, let alone was 15-minutes early to my appointment.  When further discussed, the conversation drifted to how people do not call to cancel, show up hours late, and still expect to be seen, and how the staff was forced to work overtime when people showed up late.  The provider felt compelled to see these patients, even though doing so meant staying late.  Importantly, sourced from Elder Ashton, serenity and poise are the companions of those who practice courtesy and judgment to always be on time.

As self-discipline has been reduced, social interactions have also declined as people feel attacked when courtesy is absent.  Worse, if I do not believe the same as you, social norms state I deserve to be attacked, even physically attacked, and this atrocious behavior is my fault for not having the courtesy to believe the same as you.  No!  This is not courtesy, self-discipline, or proper self-management, and I refuse to spend another microsecond being abused!

What is courtesy?

Jim Butcher is correct, “If you can’t manage courtesy, try silence.”  In defining courtesy, the dictionary refers to courtesy as “polite behavior” and “indulgence.”  Yet, I feel this is barely scratching the surface on defining courtesy, especially since indulgence is not a strong suit of mine.  Courtesy is a willingness, and ability, to properly relate to others.  Courtesy requires humility or a humble approach to social interactions.  Elder Ashton was clear, “Proper self-management will permit us to be a team member first, a coach, captain, or superstar second.”  Do we understand, and will we willingly accept, the role of a team member, participant, or active and engaged audience?Quotes On Consideration And Courtesy. QuotesGram

Early in life, I had some lessons forcibly taught me.  Elder Ashton sums up the lessons:

Good health habits, integrity, bearing, mannerisms, conversation, and self-control can be powerful assets in one’s balance sheet.  These traits outwardly reflect the views of the management.  Integrity within oneself makes it possible for honesty with God, family, and all other daily associates.  A person with integrity within himself will also have it in his relationship with others.”

At my current stage of life, I lack a “cherub-like demeanor” with anyone who tries to steal, infringe upon, or impugn my integrity.  This is wrong, and I struggle daily with the slings and arrows of our discourteous society.  Yet, still, we find a need to define courtesy, and while healthy eating, exercise, and patience help me in my struggles, these other aspects of courtesy remain invaluable.Erastus Wiman Quote: "Nothing is ever lost by courtesy. It is the ...

Courtesy, as an extension of self-respect and self-discipline, generates improved mental and physical health, further promoting courteous living and mental peace needed to suffer the fools slinging mud and practicing violence.  Do we understand the connection being discussed; Elder Ashton affirms, “our self-image and general conduct [observed through] dress, grooming, and hair standards, moderation of voice, use of worthy language, good manners, respect for other’s rights.”  However, does this define courtesy; not really, but they form the core of actions witnessed by those with self-respect and self-discipline.

Consider the recent media coverage of the two camps prominent in the Roe v. Wade protests since late February/early March.  The dress, language, general conduct, manners, and moderation of voice distinctly identified which camp one woman belonged to or another.  The distinction was easily observed long before either camp opened their mouths.  More to the point, look at the Republican and Democrat audiences at their respective national conventions.  The media coverage never ceases to amaze me, the camera operators and producers work tirelessly to not fuel stereotypes, but even then, the audiences are clearly distinct.Courtesy Quotes | Courtesy Sayings | Courtesy Picture Quotes

Elder Ashton states and I affirm in the strongest language, “In any community or personal situation, it is refreshing and uplifting to see men and women who think, speak, and act with propriety.”  Having traveled amongst incredibly diverse global cultures, it does not matter where you are or the culture you originate from; it is mentally and physically refreshing to be among people who act with propriety and courtesy and live with self-respect and self-discipline.  Clearly, courtesy is at its best when it is least obvious, and the least apparent; the greater self-respect shines through the actions and speech of courteous people.  Courtesy is a manner of living; it is a lifestyle choice and is not merely a religious thing stemming from a Judeo-Christian moral code (the Ten Commandments).  Aristotle is quoted saying, “We are what we repeatedly do; excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”  President Theodore Roosevelt said, “Courtesy is as much a mark of a gentleman as courage.”  Consider these two quotes for a moment; courtesy is an action displaying excellence, and courtesy is courage.  To Jacques Maritain goes the final word on defining courtesy, “Gratitude is the most exquisite form of courtesy.”

How do you practice grace and courtesy with your children? | Montessori ...Thus, gratitude, excellence, and gratitude are mere pieces of courteous behavior.  Interestingly, I find the best lessons on courteous behavior have arrived from the most disgustingly discourteous people.  In the US Army, I was called out by an incredibly courteous person for my language.  In the US Navy, I learned why courteous language was required through observing the consequences of the discourteous around me.  Several department members used horrific language, acted in manners revealing their lack of self-respect, and then cursed the gods for their predicament with women and money.

I am not saying that courteous living makes people rich or loved.  I merely relate that life is better the more I struggle to keep my cherub-like demeanor when stressed by those with manners more closely resembling pigs in rut than men with the potential to become God.  William Wordsworth stated in his writing, “Ode: Intimations of Immortality:”

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting.  The soul that rises with us, our life’s star, hath had elsewhere its setting, and cometh from afar: not in entire forgetfulness, and not in utter nakedness, but trailing clouds of glory do we come from God, who is our home.”

Disregarding religion for a moment, man has a tremendous imagination, but no religion yet has a discourteous god at its center.  Let us so live, with courtesy, self-respect, and self-discipline, that when we return to the God who made us, we trail clouds of glory as a mark of gratitude and courtesy.

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Honest Questions! Spurring Forthright Discussion.

Bobblehead DollThis is not my first rodeo where family members have chosen alternative lifestyles.  One family member was not hostile, quietly adopted a different lifestyle, and lives without bullying anyone.  One family member has just come of age, has chosen to live as a different gender, is passive-aggressive, and is hostile to everyone who refuses to participate in their mental disease.  The first person is an abnormality in the homosexual community where bullying, bullishness, and boorishness are the standard, not the exception.  The second family member has used their unhinged emotional wrecking ball to injure family and friends for the privilege of getting their way.  A wholly childish and selfish spectacle deserving of nothing more than abject derision and scorn.

Several friends have embraced different genders and lifestyles, moving from friendly to bully in a relatively short time, and have remained boorish and behaviorally reprehensible ever since.  One colleague was at a party, slipped a mickey, and woke up having been raped while drugged.  In any other community, this would have been a legal offense; in the homosexual community, this was not even worth mentioning.  A sad commentary in and of itself!  Unfortunately, this incident has left my friend degraded and feeling worthless, and unfortunately, we have lost touch over the years and miles since this incident.Question

Many questions remain after having worked around the LGBTQ+ community for more years than I would care to admit.  The number one question remaining is the following: If what you are doing is making you happy and more whole as a person, why the anger, resentment, bitterness, bullying, and boorish behaviors?  To me, this is a simple question; to my friends and family in the LGBTQ+ community, this is a complicated, complex, and nuanced question, where the person asked becomes more boorish, bullish, and obstinate.  So, please answer this question and tell me why this is such a complex and convoluted question.

Dear reader, I now pose the question to you.  I do not care how you choose to identify, the gender you prefer, your sexual preferences, or your religious lifestyle.  I do not care about race at birth or the race you choose to live.  Frankly, all I care about is what you bring to the table regarding talents, skills, abilities, and the attitude you choose.  Essentially, I have onboarded Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream; I judge solely by your character.  I am not racist, homophobic, sexist, ageist, or any other slur you wish to dream of; respect is often offered to resounding silence or aggressive vocal opposition and hatred, yet respect remains.Content of their Character

Religionists, including traditional and non-traditional, I realize the issues you are facing, and I agree with a lot of your concerns.  This does not mean you can be as boorish, bullish, and obstinate in your comments.  My agreement with your concerns does not reduce my respect for both parties.  Anyone abusing the comment section will have their comments moderated.  With that said, any person choosing to abuse the comments section will face the same moderation.  I do not tolerate emotionally charged bloviations.  Be logical, be respectful, and explain your ideas clearly.

Exclamation MarkBear with me for a moment.  I speak for myself.  I do not speak for all homo sapiens; I do not speak for anyone else but me — I research law, science, history, anthropology, psychology, and much more to form my opinions.  Agree or disagree, your choice.  Feel free to express your opinion, just understand I might disagree with your opinion, but I love to discuss topics with people.  Do not bring emotional hyperbole and try to pass it off as fact!  As I have told my wife, I do not care how you feel.

Currently, confusion has set in in global history, and I feel it is time to be truthful and specific.  Women have two XX chromosomes, men have an X and a Y chromosome, and this is the entire amount of genders and sexes in mammalian human science.  While some abnormalities and diseases will produce various (rare) chromosomal variations outside these two genders and sexes, there are absolutely no more than two sexes and two genders.  Recently I was told I was wrong and was informed there are 83 different gender categories, not including those who consider themselves part animal.  I continue to disagree pointedly!Dr. Duke on making good decisions in politics and life - David Duke.com

One of the misnomers in the gender/transgender discussion is that of human choice, which is more easily understood as agency.  The human, as an agent, chooses (exercising agency), and they have the right to choose, but in choosing, their consequences are not anyone else’s problem.  We need this point well understood.  Sexually transmitted diseases are not society’s problem; pregnancy is still not society’s problem; rape, drug addiction, depression, anxiety, etc., are not society’s problem.  How you choose to live your life is your choice; like I have said multiple times in these articles and elsewhere, keep those lifestyle choices in your bedroom and home, and leave the rest of society to live as they choose.

Some of those consequences break a person’s social trust with their chosen society; we call these laws, and breaking laws has additional consequences the agent must bear for exercising agency.  Breaking laws is black and white; how society’s agents apply those laws for enforcing those laws (judges, law enforcement officers, lawyers, etc.) is another topic; however, your lifestyle choices do not allow you to break society’s laws with impunity merely because you do not like a law or because that law interferes with your lifestyle.  It is against the law to picket, rally, or riot in front of a judge’s home to sway that judge’s opinion!  Blocking traffic is not an acceptable or legal method to air your grievances, and there is no such thing as a peaceful protest.  You can either legally protest or riot, media talking heads notwithstanding!

Your lifestyle choices do NOT permit you to groom children, become boorish, bullish, or abrasive in public, nor do your lifestyle choices enable you to change laws and social norms to fit your pleasure.  Everyone sacrifices to belong to society; not getting your way does not mean you have fewer rights than anyone else.  Are we clear on this issue?Founding Fathers Quotes on Justice and Equal Treatment Under the Law

Equal treatment under the law means you do not get a pass on sexual predation merely because your lifestyle is different from someone else’s.  Morals and values a society selects do not twist, morph, or get simply deleted because your lifestyle choices are out of sync with the rest of society.  Frankly, there is nothing new in your lifestyle preferences, so start being a member of society, act responsibly, and cease your incessant whining.  Finally, keep your lifestyle choices in your home; you are not allowed to teach children your lifestyle, you are not allowed to take over city streets for parades and displays, and whether you are hetero or homosexual when in public, act respectfully of others.REPEAL PRWORA PROJECT - GRANT EQUAL PROTECTION UNDER LAW - Bhavanajagat

Let me elaborate on that final statement.  I have been married for 25+ years; in public, I choose not to kiss, hold hands, or do any other action that could cause an observer to be discomfited.  I make these choices from the moral obligation I owe to our country’s social fabric and the respect I have for my partner.  I expect other couples to adhere to a similar standard of public behavior.  Nothing is so disgusting than to be forced to watch two immature people abuse the public square by disrespecting themselves and each other through inappropriate actions in public.  Are we clear, or do you want more specifications?

Having said all of this, why have you decided now is a good time to multiply sexes and genders?  Why now are you demanding “rights” when you already have equal protection under the law?  Why all of a sudden is the push on to change society in a warped image of your lifestyle?  Please answer these questions, and let’s have a discussion.

Knowledge Check!It is time for honest and forthright discussions on these topics.  Argumentative wrangling is not allowed.  Insulting, calling names, and political (emotional) drivel will only end the conversation, for I refuse to put up with sniveling and whining.  You seem to have a point; what is your point?  You want respect, fine, you have respect; please remember respect is earned and is a two-way street.  I will not participate in your mental illness, but I am always willing to discuss real issues honestly, openly, and transparently.

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

“That’s Crazy!!!” – More Chronicles from the VA Chapter 8

I-CareI fully admit I got behind in April.  Dear reader, my apology.  I have been whipsawed between emergency room visits, depression, extreme pain, and other issues.  Not offering an excuse but a tiny peek into my world as a disabled veteran.  Luckily, I have maintained employment because my employer allows me to work from home.  My driving privileges are threatened again with removal due to the neurological issues I suffer, and this will dynamically change my life, but this article is not about me, but the continued catastrophe called the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Inspector General (VA-OIG) reports published.

We begin with a financial efficiency review reported from the inspection of the Durham VAHCS of North Carolina.  I know the jokes write themselves when we discuss any government agency and financial efficiency, but I digress.  This is a head exploding report of leadership failure in the observation and governance of employees who did not perform the functions they were hired to perform.  The VA-OIG found the following from October 1, 2020, through March 31, 2021:

    • The healthcare system had 309 inactive obligations totaling $81.7 million.
    • Of these 309 obligations, 200 (totaling over $74 million) had no activity for 181 days or more.
    • In a subsample of 20 obligations, VA staff had not reviewed 17, as required.
    • Contrary to VA policy, healthcare system staff used purchase cards instead of contracts for 21 of 40 sampled transactions (53 percent), totaling approximately $328,000. These 21 transactions were missing required supporting documentation to verify that the transactions were approved and payments were accurate, resulting in $308,000 in questioned costs.
    • 105 more administrative full-time equivalent staff than the expected number, all not doing their jobs as required under Federal Law!

While not all of the findings, those mentioned are the most egregious and in need of corrective action.  Would the citizens of Durham, North Carolina, please tell me, has this been reported in the local news?  Has anyone lost their jobs as the VAHCS right-sizes the financial department?  I can find no additional information that this problem has been corrected, and I am really curious!VA 3

Oh, the irony is thick; consider the following:

The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General Training Act of 2021 would help ensure that VA employees continue to be empowered to assist the OIG in improving VA’s operations and using taxpayer dollars to the greatest effect; helping protect patients and improving their care; and ensuring veterans and others receive services and benefits for which they are eligible.”

The above-quoted material originates from Chris Wilber, who testified to Congress’s HVAC Subcommittee on oversight and investigations.  What is the number one failure on every comprehensive healthcare inspection (CHIP); the lack of staff training, the inadequacy of staff training, or adequately trained staff.  Yet, the statement by the VA-OIG indicates that training has met a threshold for providing adequate training.  Let’s talk about a specific action, “the VA secretary signed a directive in September 2021 mandating that all employees complete a one-time training within one year—an important step in improving VA’s culture of accountability.”  It is now May 2022; the VA-OIG is pushing for training directives to be legislated, not dependent upon any single VA Secretary.  Are you freaking kidding me?  Where is the congressional oversight and scrutiny that allows VA training to continue to be subpar and threaten the lives of veterans?

Long have I wondered how the VA could frustrate VA-OIG actions, investigations, inspections, etc.  Guess what; the answer has become available:

“… there have been instances in which the OIG has been informed that staff have been told that they cannot share information with OIG investigators without first clearing it through supervisors or leaders—contrary to the Inspector General Act of 1978 (the IG Act), as amended.  Under that authority, VA employees at all levels have a duty to cooperate with OIG personnel, including providing information and assistance in a timely manner.”

Employees have been caught lying to the VA-OIG regularly, and what action is taken to remove those employees promptly and efficiently from government service?  From direct observation and employee conversations, it is clear that plans are carefully laid before a scheduled VA-OIG visit to present what the VA-OIG wants, but to gloss over the problems, and nothing ever happened to the managers, supervisors, and employees who lied and misdirected the VA-OIG.  All contrary to established Federal Law!VA 3

Want a specific example of employees intentionally misrepresenting information to the VA-OIG?  Look no further than the statement by Chris Wilber, and this incident was covered as a failure of leadership in a previous article.

Hospital staff at a VA facility in Fayetteville, Arkansas, had concerns about potential substance abuse by the chief of pathology that were not heard and promptly acted on by local management, which allowed him to work while impaired for years.  He misdiagnosed about 3,000 patients with errors resulting in death or serious harm and is currently imprisoned.  The OIG found a culture in which staff did not report serious concerns about the chief pathologist, in part because they assumed that others had reported him, or they were concerned about reprisal.”

From personal experience, I reported problems to the VA-OIG concerning patient abuse, fraud, waste, and other issues.  Never were my concerns acted upon promptly, and I was removed from employment for being a whistleblower.  The culture of corruption at the VA is incredible.  The examples mentioned by the VA-OIG only further sustain the problem with leadership and how sick the VA truly is as an organization!VA 3

We next turn our attention to the VA-OIG report on the inspection of information technology security at the VA Financial Services Center, another head exploding example of leadership failure bordering on criminal!  The findings include:

    • component inventory
    • vulnerability management
    • flaw remediation
    • Identifying 252 vulnerabilities, of which 228 the local IT team could not identify.
    • the VA-OIG team identified access control deficiencies, as 107 of the 278 FSC systems failed to generate or forward audit logs for analysis.
    • the video surveillance system was not fully functional. Ineffective monitoring and recording facility activities supporting information systems minimize the FSC’s incident response capabilities.

How do you spell failure; these findings spell failure to me rather pointedly and dramatically!  Want to laugh; staff training remains a concern, but not a finding, of the VA-OIG inspection team.  Frankly, with this level of incompetence, staff training should have been a finding.VA 3

To be concise and illustrate further the poor leadership, convoluted processes, and brazen noncompliance of VA officials, the following discussion is about two different VA-OIG reports that reached similar conclusions.  First, we have the VA-OIG report on “Noncompliant and Deficient Processes and Oversight of State Licensing Board and National Practitioner Data Bank Reporting Policies by VA Medical Facilities.”  Second is the VA-OIG report on “Concerns with Consistency and Transparency in the Calculation and Disclosure of Patient Wait Time Data.”  Nothing says convoluted processes more than having two written policies, both originating from Washington DC.  The superseded policy does not have an expiration date.  This means that employees have a designed incompetence excuse ready for not adhering to the most current and applicable policy.  Don’t believe me; one of the key findings was, “VHA has presented wait times to the public without clearly and consistently disclosing the basis for their calculations.”  Designed incompetence does not come more blatant than this, and who suffers, the veteran.  Worse, wait time correction and policy clarification has been stalled by COVID-19, the neverending excuse paying dividends to bureaucrats everywhere!Timelines for Wait Time Calculations

However, both reports are substantially summated by the VA-OIG; thus, “The lack of programmatic oversight contributed to the failure of VHA leaders to detect and intervene upon facility noncompliance.”  Meaning that due to COVID-19, the VHA has refused to do their jobs in deference to the pandemic, and since this is a good enough excuse, the VA-OIG has bought the designed incompetence, lock, stock, and barrel.  The VHA leadership is failing; doctors or dentists let go for poor performance were not reported to state and federal boards, so these providers lacking can continue to harm patients.  It is a federal law (42 US Code § 11151, US Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration Bureau of Health Workforce, NPDB Guidebook, October 2018, chap. A., 8 USC ⸹ 7462(a), 38 USC ⸹ 7401(1), among others) that providers let go for cause must be reported within 7-days to the regulatory boards at the state and federal levels.  Wait times are hidden because they are so bad; the VHA is embarrassed, so the leaders fall back on designed incompetence to shield themselves while looking for another excuse for poor performance!  In both reports, the ramifications of noncompliance are putting people at risk for sentinel events (death, injury, disability, etc.), and the leadership is at best lackadaisical in the performance of their duties.  VA 3

Where are the congressional overseers in ending the abuse?  When will this insanity and bureaucratic inertia end?  How many “sentinel events,” including deaths and permanent injuries, will it take until those tasked with scrutinizing the executive branch finally take committed action and hold people accountable?  When will the elected representatives stop throwing good taxpayer money at problems that money cannot fix?  If these questions are too difficult to answer, please stop running for elected office, for the citizenry is not happy!

We conclude with two related reports so astoundingly obtuse they defy logic and sanity.  The first is the annual CliftonLarsonAllen LLP (CLA) audit of the VA’s information security for 2021.  The second is the continuing failure of the new electronic health record modernization (EHRM) program.  The VA has failed the CLA audit for more than a decade, with many of the hits repeated year-over-year.  In fact, the CLA audit is so bad this year; it has taken my mental breath away and stunned me into a gibbering idiot!  Reading this report was infuriating; describing it as my head exploding is akin to comparing an M-80 to a nuclear bomb.  How in Dante’s Inferno can this level of incompetence be allowed to remain employed?  But, as bad as the CLA audit is, the continued failure of the new electronic health record system pales in comparison.  The new EHRM continues to suffer from reliability weaknesses, which is polite speak from the VA-OIG for the new system fails to do the job.  We are three years from the new extended deadline, we are already past the original deadline, and the system is worthless today than it was a year ago.  With this success rate, the new EHRM will be utterly bereft of value and need replacement before the year’s end.  How many millions (billions, or trillions) of good dollars must chase this ineptitude before the plug is pulled and those involved held accountable?VA 3

Join me in having your head explode:

Additional deficiencies included known tasks not being reflected on schedules, no risk analysis, lack of longer-term actions scheduled, and no complete baseline schedule or overall schedule that fully integrated individual project schedules. VA also did not comply with federal regulations when it paid its contractor for deliverables before accepting them (reviewing compliance with contract requirements).”

Consider this other gem from the VA-OIG report, “$1.95 billion in cost overruns per year” are estimated, meaning the final tab will be significantly higher and compounded year-over-year.  In plain speak, the contractor is being paid for products delivered that fail, the products offered are not usable, there is no schedule of completion, there is no schedule for deliverables, many of the products paid for have never been delivered, and costs are overrunning like a plugged toilet. Worse, no one is being held personally liable for these problems, which were apparent in the last EHRM update from the VA-OIG a year ago!  Like the CLA Audit, I am thrilled the VA agrees with the VA-OIG findings, but what are they DOING to fix the problems?

FYI: the image below is a year old, and comes from the last major update to the EHRM.EHR-VA-OIG

?u=https1.bp.blogspot.com-aqaqk18MHoEWRHHsCi_TyIAAAAAAAAAXc7hY4JQuyylIQHYudoR8sbezGZntic4SSwCLcBs640Betrayal2BSayings2Band2BQuotes2Bwww.mostphrases.blogspot.be.jpg&f=1&nofb=1There is no excuse for behaving like the VA’s bureaucratic legions behave.  Bureaucrats, from the city government (including the school board) to the Federal Government, you hold a sacred trust to act better than you are currently performing.  I refuse you any leeway for acting like pompous overlords when you are paid through forced taxation!  You have trespassed upon my patience and kindness long enough, and the day of reckoning has arrived.  You work for me; you work for every taxpayer and citizen in this country, and you have violated our trust, charged us too much and too often, and if you do not begin to show yourself worthy of the sacred trust, we will force you from your cushy jobs and hold you liable for the monies you have squandered!  The law is on our side; you need to begin showing you honor our trust and investment forthwith!

© Copyright 2022 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.