August 12, 2015 - When we talk about the Department of Veterans Affairs — positively or negatively — we tend to talk in the abstract. We talk about waitlists without talking about names. We talk about suicide among veterans without talking about faces. We talk about the need to fire VA employees without talking about specific public servants.
A snippet of a phone call recorded Aug. 11 challenges that narrative. The clip shows a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan’s interaction with a seasoned nurse practitioner at a major VA facility. The recording shows a struggle to obtain quality care shared by countless veterans that has been widely reported on, but it also shows something else. It shows an emotional side to that struggle, and how it affects everyone involved.
The clip shows the very end of Brennan’s three-hour call. It shows him interacting with a nurse practitioner at the Jacksonville VA named Lydia Janning. Brennan said he has interacted with her before and he believes she cares and does her best with the resources she has. In the recording, Janning makes that claim as well. The video shows an emotional side of the struggle veterans face to receive care that is rarely seen by the public. It shows an emotional side to the frustrations VA health care providers experience with the fraught system as well. This side, the perspective of just one of more than 300,000 public servants who work at the VA and struggles to provide care for a war-wrought veteran, is rarer still.
“The veterans don’t care about the wait time, we just want to feel like we fucking matter,” Brennan says in the video. “And when you’re sitting at home like this, you don’t feel like you matter to the doctors who are supposed to take care of you.”
Janning offers a soft, “I know.” She sounds empathetic and compassionate, too familiar with those feelings.
Brennan told Task & Purpose that in that moment, he took his pain and frustration out on her, he now says he regrets that. read more>>>