How the government hiring freeze dishonors veterans

For those who are not avid followers of President Trump or his decisions, often his decisions have far-reaching consequences that affect lives and people.  As a health care provider, I understand quick decision making, but also the importance of risk versus benefit and consequences of your decisions.  I would like to tell you my story and how his actions have affected my life, the lives of my patients and their loved ones, and more importantly the men and women President Trump claims to care for the most: military members and veterans.

I am a combat veteran with a deployment to Afghanistan and served my country with honor, decorum, and pride.  I left the military to pursue other medical opportunities, which I have been successful and pleased with.  I realized I was missing something special, which was the opportunity to serve, assist and support the military by caring for active duty members, their loved ones, and veterans.  By a stroke of luck one day, I found an opportunity across the country to do what I wanted.  I would be a civilian employee for a branch of the military and have the privilege of treating civilians, military and veterans.  I would take part in both graduate and undergraduate medical education.  So I signed up, gave my resignation to my current job and excitedly planned a cross-country move.

Recently, I woke up to a federal government hiring freeze instituted by President Trump and found out that my position that I spent months working towards; including applications, background/security checks, and credentialing overnight just vanished.  I immediately contacted human resources and was told, “Sorry don’t report and look for a job.”

Here I was with a hiring letter with a start date and told: Don’t come to work, don’t care for patients, we aren’t going to honor our commitment to you.  This is the exact opposite of the loyalty that the military inspires.  But you can’t blame the military; they are just following the orders issued by President Trump.  Luckily my current job still had a need, but for 3 to 4 days I was feeling distraught, panicked and struggling with the thought of how to make ends to meet in a few months.

In fact, this government hiring freeze has done more: It dishonors veterans who have “firm commitments,” it mistreats and disrespects patients, and probably actively harms them by increasing wait times. Patients will face delays in their care — whether active, dependents or veterans.  Imagine waiting for a provider hours to days to weeks as military health care or the VA becomes understaffed and overworked.   I implore you to remember what President Trump’s platform included: “Ensure the veterans get the care they need wherever and whenever they need it.”  His military policy includes increasing the size of all the branches.

How can one achieve his goals without the appropriate support personnel?  I see an administration that does not fully think of the consequences of the actions they take and as a result harm the people they claim they care about.  I see a veteran waiting for care having a preventable health event.  I see an active duty member caring and thinking of an ill spouse while deployed and taking mind off the mission.  Most of all, I see a direction of the country on the wrong track and people suffering because of it.

The author is an anonymous physician.

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