The Military

Just got done with grassroots innovation session at Veterans Affairs

The deal with these are that rank-and-file employees know what's going on and how to do better.

Some simple tech enables people to discuss ideas and get them to the boss.

I just finished meeting with a bunch of VA employees from around the country, including nurses, doctors, claims processing (eligibility) guys, etc. They really know the system, and I learned a lot.

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An indispensable insurance policy

So, I came home last week to hear that traffic in Washington was going to be completely screwed up because of some nuclear weapons summit.  

Nuclear weapons summit?  

Are you kidding me?  

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Zen and ‘Hurt Locker’s’ Sgt. James

Zen is the art of doing things in the unconscious, Winston L. King writes in his book, Zen and the Way of the Sword: Arming the Samurai Psyche. Doing without thinking. Internalizing knowing as close as can be got to the core of one’s being. This is Sgt. James, taking off the safety suit with eyes and mind and all of his being for the ordnance only and with total disregard to his own safety. He is Master Chief. He is Zen Man.

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A real result from the Veterans Affairs innovation initiative

You get real results when you talk to the people on the front lines, the rank and file.

Mr. Hudson's idea sounds remarkably simple — create and use standardized medical questionnaires for private physicians to fill out when they treat veterans to speed up the process for evaluating VA disability claims. Currently, veterans must undergo a further exam at a VA medical facility to get information on their conditions and degrees of disability.

Benefits for veterans from that simple idea could be significant.

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Stop-loss veterans, apply for back pay!

OK, the deal is that former and current service members can get back pay, if they were involuntarily extended on active duty because of surprise stop-loss clauses from Sept. 11, 2001, through Sept. 30, 2008.

(The Obama administration made this happen; the prior administration didn't want to pay the troops.)

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Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t delay

History was made when the nation’s top uniformed officer, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the U.S. military. We must get rid of today’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, said Mullen, because it’s simply “the right thing to do.”

Well, it’s about time. It was a mistake on Bill Clinton’s part to adopt that policy in the first place, way back in 1993. My only questions are: What took them so long to get this far? And now that the Pentagon recognizes that getting rid of the old Clinton policy is the right thing to do, why’s it going to take so long to change it?

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‘Don’t ask, don’t tell,’ don’t even talk about it

Maybe popular thinking is wrong. It's entirely possible that when President Barack Obama advocated doing away with "Don't ask, don't tell” the other night, the Joint Chiefs of Staff generals were not being stoic, they were stunned — too panicked to move. It wasn't military bearing, it was fear.

Why? It's not as if the president was proposing that the services' chaplain be required to perform gay marriages, simply that we get real about the present policy about the non-straight orientation in our armed forces, which is basically "If you got it, don’t flaunt it.”

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Veterans starting to get back pay

Hey, it's good that the current administration supports the troops.

You might recall that the prior presidency, um, forgot to pay a lot of them for some of their service.

The good news is that stop-loss pay starts flowing on Dec. 16.

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