tv VA Secretary Robert Mc Donald Remarks on Veterans and the Criminal Justice... CSPAN August 1, 2015 2:00pm-2:31pm EDT
wish the american people knew what the rest of the world understands about this. and the push that iran was making for the bomb was for defensive purposes because israel has 200 to 400 of them pointed at them. had he bring a country back into the brotherhood of countries without -- that he bring iran back in to get the sanctions off of them. hopefully israel within 16 years will come to on -- to some kind of understanding with palestine. hopefully iran will have a consciousness of stopping to destabilize the middle east which america started by invading iraq. i was the american people would kind of understand. this is a positive
in bringing iran into the community of countries without having a war. host: thanks for calling. a reminder that tomorrow we will air another hearing on the iran nuclear deal. the senate armed services committee hearing from this past wednesday. the three secretaries you saw in the house hearing, secretary kerry moniz and lew will appear in the armed services hearing along with defense secretary ashton carter ended -- and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, general martin denmpsy. that will air tomorrow on c-span as we continued coverage the administration and congress as they work through this 60-day review period. from this week at the annual vet court conference, robert mcdonald talks about some
of the challenges facing today's veterans. he also talked about ongoing efforts to improve operations at the v.a. this runs about 25 minutes. [applause] secretary mcdonald: thank you. thank you. that is beautiful. thank you very much. it is a thrill for me to be here this morning with you. as the judge said i'm the biggest believer in veteran treatment courts there could ever be. i cannot think of any better way to keep veterans out of incarceration stop veteran homelessness, and i am so think all to all of you
here today for the work you do to help us care for veterans. one of the things that became very clear to be in los angeles as you may have seen in that film is that we at the v.a. cannot do this job ourselves. we need the help of all layers a government. nine government organizations. businesses and others to be able to care in the right way for veterans. it is important to have collaboration and partnerships. i love this picture of judge russell and myself as we are shaking hands across the table because that is the kind of partnerships that we need to have. that is the kind of collaboration that we need to have. [applause] nationally we have a monument to task. it has to really be a community effort. we have to work community i community, city
by city, state by state. locally , it is a huge undertaking. we know we cannot succeed only from the federal government. we have to make this collaborative connections. 2016 is fast approaching and we at the v.a. have made a number of commitments for the end of 2015. obviously our goal is to end veterans homelessness. we have a huge role to play in doing that, but so do you and we are incredible he thankful for your partnership. there is an excitable link between justice involvement and homelessness. as i was looking at all the studies that are looked at as i came into this role, it was very clear that incarceration is like a one-way ticket to homelessness. if we can work together to and incarceration we have a great chance of ending homelessness. when need to give veterans and offramp from that
in struggle -- and a clickable link -- an extra couple link. president obama describe united states as a nation of second chances. ideally believe that. nobody deserves a second chance more than those who have protected our country. the 1% that is protected the 100% of our country. they gave us the opportunity to prosper. they preserved our liberty and freedom. how many of you are veterans here in this room? if you would not mind, please stand up and accept the applause of all of us here. [applause] thank you for your service. how many of you are serving through mentor boot camp? i know we have a crew ready to do that. anybody
going to mentor boot camp? [applause] good luck to you and thank you for your commitment. to a commitment to making people's lives even better. i think there is nothing more noble than to live a life of purpose. would it -- would that be terrible to sibley be under through life without direction but all of you have purpose and that is represented by you being here. let me tell you a quick story. it's probably a story you are familiar with but it is about an old man any young man. the old man is on a beach. the beaches littered with starfish up and down the beach and the tide is gone out. as a result of that, the starfish were kind of baking in the sun and were vulnerable to lose their lives. the old man would walk the beach he would bend over pick up the starfish and throw it back into the sea.
the young man saw this. often times we are younger become cynical and iconoclastic. the americas of the old man and says, what are you doing? the old man says i'm picking up starfish and on the back into the sea. the young man says old man, look down the speech. you see thousands and thousands of starfish. there is simply no way you will be able to pick up all those starfish and build the back of the seat. so why bother? the old man picked up another starfish and he put it back in the water and he said, it makes a difference to just one. and making a difference to just one is really how to measure our lives. do we make a difference in the lives of at least one person every single day. it's certainly the question i ask myself when i leave my office in
the evening. have a made a difference in the life of at least one veteran that day? i'm here to thank you for the difference you are making in the lives of so many veterans to the work you are doing. we at the v.a. think we have the most highest order calling in the world and that is to care for those who were born the battle, the survivors and their families. there is no higher calling. we also think we of the best values in the world. integrity, commitment, advocacy, respect, and excellence. if we live our lives according to that mission and according to our values there is no question we can make a difference for all the veterans who have served our country. serving justice involved -- to all veterans is an important part of that. you are embracing that mission.
you have your arms around it and even as you wrap your arms around it we have many veterans who need us and need you. look at the marines in this formation. which would you imagine are going to become involved in the criminal justice system? which would you imagine could potentially be homeless? too many have and more will. but thanks to you thanks to you there is an offramp. and offramp to a second chance. for that, we thank you deeply. you have further testimonials. charles said veterans achievement -- courts cap me alive, kept me going. eric said veterans achievement courts offered me the chance of a lifetime. -- he said, he told me the story. he
said better treatments courts save my life. i have heard many of the stories. they start with the criminal justice system. they start with a peer counselor. they start with the veteran treatment courts. than the individual goes on. they use the g.i. bill. they get community college training. maybe they get a four year degree. maybe they go on to law school and maybe then up paying it forward like many of you here working on the half of other people -- veterans. these of the values at work. know whether group of people better personify that mission for these values than you do. i thank you all and they hope that -- and i pray that god will continue to bless you all in your work.
you are helping one of our priorities. you are helping veterans return or reintegrate with communities and families successfully. you showed us this way. veteran treatments courts is a huge innovation and since judge russell kick is off we now have 351 veterans courts nationwide. we are working every day to increase that number and increase the number of counselors we have to work with you. while the elites the way health care -- v.a. leads the way health care, we have led with the first cardiac transparent, the first liver transplant the first time a nurse came up with the idea to use a barcode to connect patients with medical records. the first electronic medical record. we invented the nicotine patch. we also invented the shingles vaccine. a lot of
innovations have come from the v.a. and as a result of that we have three nobel prizes and seven lasker awards. one innovation that did not come of the v.a. is the veterans courts. you taught us how to do this. your partnership model, the model of collaboration of a core concept executed federally and locally tailored to meet every specific need. you have taught us this. is a perfect example of how communities can collaborate in holistic ways. there is the judge, the court staff supervising. the v.a. and community -- providers delivering treatment simultaneously. there is volunteer federal and -- veteran mentors providing support camaraderie, and training. this is the best in class kind of collaboration we could possibly have. all of us working together synergistically for the benefit of the veteran. let me remind
you that we are also working hard in all of this to help families as well. as part of our homelessness effort, we have hud vouchers. when i -- one of my favorite programs is to provide support for families so we show we are not only caring for the veteran by caring for their families as well. when a veteran joins the service or when a member -- service never joins the service, the family goes with them. when they deploy, the family goes with them as well. we have to care for families. we need more of that kind of innovation. we need more creative solutions we can use. we at the v.a. are willing to try anything that will work. all we are concerned about is getting the numeric outcome at the end. making sure we get the human outcome of a veteran who is better off. we are also working on many technological solutions. things like tele
health and regional veterans courts. we are committed to creative approaches to make these crucial partnerships work. you in this room are at the nexus of justice involvement and homelessness. we want to share where we are with any veterans homelessness. as you can see by this chart homelessness is down 32% from 2010 two 2014. it is down 40% for chronic homeless. that is because of the president's strong support, his focus, and the funding we have received. funding is important for supportive services, for permanent and transitional housing, for prevention and treatment, for employment and job training. since 2008 funding
programs benefiting veterans homelessness have increased 170% from $2.4 billion in 2008 to $6.5 billion in 2015. it is about a lot more than just money. we have to know how to spend that money. we have learned what works and importantly, very importantly feeling what does not work. we settled on evidence-based strategies and you see them here on this chart. housing first. what a beautiful strategy. it recognizes the hierarchy of needs. we have to get the lowest level needs of the way first so we can work on the other needs of the veteran. if we don't get the veteran under a roof, there is no way we can work on their treatment. temporary housing is the most important thing to do
first and then deal with the other issues that may have cost homelessness. no wrong door. coordinating the assessment and entry systems and providing health matter where the veteran turns. i love that when i go into a city like los angeles and they have an access program where every door you go in lisa the same access to the treatment and the housing. outreach and engagement. seeking homeless veterans getting to know them and their needs. caring and sharing with partners. we at the v.a. are doing a good job or try to hire social workers and counselors, there is no substitute for the pure counselor. for the veteran to is been there. the veteran who is been to the need. i was recently in tucson. there are a lot of veterans out in the desert living there homeless. i met one young man douglas who
literally goes into the desert and comes back and brings those veterans in a get some under a roof. is the fact that doug is been a veteran and he has been homeless and he has been in the desert that gives them the ability to build trust with veterans to get them out of the desert. that averaging gauge what is so critically important. justice outreach. connecting veterans with services. this becomes critically important. grass-roots mobilization. had a begin things mobilized at a local level? get the local government involved. local landlords. one of the biggest issues we have an homelessness all across the country and in housing veterans is finding the landlords willing to rent at the hud voucher amounts. we going to cities and again with mayors and we ask all the landlords to get in a room like this room here today and we say we would like you to join the mayor's challenge. you rent to veterans for the hud voucher amount and
we will provide care for the veterans that we need that ruth. many of the veterans have stood up. mayor lee in san francisco told me that he was so thrilled because the chinese-american community in san francisco side is there patriotic duty to rent their spaces to veterans for the correct amount. i cannot stress and -- enough the importance of a grassroots effort. only some is give a done by federal agencies like the v.a. we provide the strategy and support. we provide funding. ending veterans homelessness has to happen community by community. it is so much more than money. it is people like you who are committed to veterans and evidence-based strategies that work. another community strategy which is working is the mayor's challenge. phoenix, celtic city,
new orleans, have all reached major milestones over the past year. in 2014, new orleans was the first major city to declare they had ended veterans homelessness. houston recently announced they have created a system that will help and and prevent homelessness from now going forward. we expect many more cities to declare their results over the coming months. let me tell you nobody is done more to help veterans homelessness then first lady michelle obama and the president. they have been there all along the way. the of supported -- provided support to the leadership and enthusiasm to get this done. partnership is one of our strategies that really works. we use the same principles in these partnerships
that are value but to your efforts working within the justice system involving veterans. so far we have served -- we at the v.a. are only allowed to serve those veterans that have honorable discharges. those veterans that have less than honorable discharges, the 50% of veterans that have less than honorable discharges are relying on it -- community partnerships to get that done. i was in boston not to undergo. i visited home base. historically, v.a. had seen home base is competition. competition that provides care for veterans with post-traumatic stress or with dramatic brain injury. i don't think that way. we had the v.a. do not think that way. we embrace all organization is trying to help veterans. we want to party with them because home-based not only provides a great outcome for veterans with post-traumatic stress or to medic brain injury, but they
conserve -- can serve the less -- the 15% we cannot serve by law. these partnerships are not only critical and smart to achieving our strategy, but in my mind they are also about ethics and morals because we need to make sure no better in his left behind -- veteran is left behind. we also work with public housing authorities to set aside section eight vouchers and prioritize these individuals. i went on a multi-city for with secretary of labor tom perez secretary housing and urban development castro because we wanted to demonstrate we in the federal government are working collaboratively across our departments and that we would like to work collaboratively with the cities and counties that we visited. all of us are adopting a no wrong door philosophy to ensure we can get veterans into care, under roof, and in order to do that we at
the v.a. have a strategy called strategic partnerships. we are trying to engage global philanthropy, landlords, business community. we want to maximize the total number of resources available to all of us to get this done. we also want to leverage your political capital. we will get housing authorities committed to providing units. we want to get local veterans service organizations and military bases to donate and volunteer their time. we need to continue to work to build paths to these stronger relationships., bring people to the table set realistic goals, make plans, and execute as one team with wondering. -- one dream. we are not only try to prove our numbers as we go. we are working to improve access to medical care. as the judge said, we have
7 million more completed appointment of the last year versus the previous year. 20% of those have been same-day appointments. the average wait time now nationally is five days for specialty care. four days for primary care. and three days for mental health care. 22% of our completed appointments had been in the community. 4.5 million of the 7 million have been in the community. 2.5 million have been within v.a. we work to get the basque -- backlog of claims down. over 125 days they were down to about 117,000 from a peak of 611,000 in march of 2014. we are not going to rest until we get that back on the claims down to zero. we are making progress on homelessness. all of those are progress in the right direction but we are not going to get where we need to be until we
transform v.a. for the long-term. we are in the midst of that now. we call it the mighty a transformation. is the way we want you to think about v.a. as if it were yourself. customized for you, the veteran. to do that we have five strategies. number one is to improve veteran experience. we are working hard to train our organization in great customer service. we are working with customers -- comedies like wisconsin, disney, starbucks and others to learn about how the best customer service organizations do it. number two is to improve the employee experience. we know we have no hope of improving the veteran experience until he improve the employee experience. it's the employees who actually care for veterans. we are working hard to provide the right training, the right leadership, and do all the things we need to do to empower
the eight employees -- v.a. employees. third, our i.t. services are often outdated. the system in phoenix dated to 1985. when i was in phoenix i worked on it myself. is like working on a green screen with ms-dos. our financial management system, believe it or not, is about 20 years old and is written in cobol. a language i less programmed in 1973 on the west point computer. we have work to do to improve our support services. number four, when you establish a culture of continuous improvement. to do that we are training employees and something called lean six sigma. is the way that employees take charge of the systems that work on. they are given the tools to change the systems. and as i say do employees, let's try to be the change we want to see
just like gandhi said. number five, strategic partnerships which i've artie talked about. we cannot do this job alone. we know we need you. we appreciate you. we embrace u.s. partners. -- u.s. partners -- you as partners. there was no higher calling than the work you do. you help veterans, you help families. you make a difference in the lives of others. there is no higher calling in this world. you more than anyone else understands the initiative link between what we do in the justice system and ending veteran homelessness. we are committed to ensuring you have all the services you need, all the support you need. we are committed to make sure every veteran has a services they need, including those that are justice involved.
those veterans are welcome at the v.a. they are the ones we are looking for first. we are seeking to help them have access to our services and we are trying to make sure that the criminal justice system, the criminal history probation or pending charge does not affect their eligibility. if there is a policy or practice getting in the way, we will find a way to fix it. my e-mail address is b firstname.lastname@example.org. we will get it out of the way. don't ever settle for the status quo or the belief you can't create the change yourself because you can and you will and you are. i just wonder close by saying you guys inspire me everything will day. i know we can succeed and i know we will.
but we will because of all of you. i would like to again say god bless you all. thank you for letting me spend some of your valuable time with you. and god bless you in what you're doing. thank you very much. [applause] >> the c-span city store working with our cable affiliates is in cities across the country. we are joined by comcast to learn more about the literary life in history of edessa, georgia. -- was the epitome of a hero. awarded economy metal for heroism at the age of 19. was also awarded the medal of honor posthumously because of his actions in world war ii. >> we are sitting in the gusto resume of history. about 10 years ago at the decision was made to do it military display. a permanent display to honor jimmy dias. when i did my research on the book i went through over 9000 carnegie medal recipients in the last 100 years. the 3500 or so medal of
honor recipients since the civil war. it turns out he is the only person ever to have earned both awards. he would almost for sure say he did not deserve it. he might point out to somebody else was more heroic than he was. he never talked about the carnegie medal. when i interviewed people who knew him, when i did the book a long time ago, people knew him well. i said tell me about the carnegie medal. he was 19. they did not know anything about it. i have known a lot of medal of honor recipients. most of them will tell you i did not deserve this medal. it was a piece of melody we can all learn from -- humility we could all learn from. >> we also visit the boyhood home of old -- woodrow wilson. >> either to augustine as a child when is just a-year-old. he lived in another house and then moved to this house when he was three. president wilson's
very first memory was november of 1860 before he was four years old. he was standing on the front gate out in front of the house and two men came by in a hurry with very excited tones and they said abraham lincoln has been elected president and there is going to be a war. young tommy ran inside and asked his father what was war. what did that mean? we think it is his first memory was about another president, abraham lincoln, and another war, the civil war and wilson would have to lead the country through world war i. >> see all of our programs from augusta throughout the day on c-span two tv and sunday afternoon at 2:00 on american history tv on c-span three.