Brillo Box Development Group ~
Creativity and ability through occupation, arts,
music and design ~

Along with touting my artistic endeavors, I will be presenting articles and thoughts about developments in accessible living for veterans and seniors, and facilities for aging in place and active living.  I will also offer information about available modifications that can bring existing homes, businesses and recreational facilities closer to universal design potential (standards), and how building and community improvements will be created through the Brillo Box Development Group.

In the wake of Obama’s promise to address health care for veterans I am flabbergasted at the cover up and the blind-eye the government and especially the Veterans Administration has given this issue for years.  There are many layers involved in this scandal but the layer in the middle, the service members and their families are the ones truly suffering.  There needs to be a cure for this blockade of aid.  This issue has been so severe that in some cases service members have been encouraged to accept medical discharge to seek civilian medical assistance versus being trapped in the red-tape.  While working in the armed forces in the early 1990’s, I had a friend who was sent to the medics for a knee injury.  Instead of being treated in triage by medical doctors he was told that he would be given a medical discharge because the injury needed to be treated stat and it would be better for to see a civilian doctor because of the length of time it would have taken to be seen and treated.

Since that time I have worked with or spoken with several other retired military service members who suffer from PTSD and have been neglected by the Veterans Administration.  Many of these veterans suffer from additional injuries which seem to further impact the PTSD.  I have also spoken with battle scarred vets who have lost their family and jobs due to anger issues or illegal drug related misuse.  How can we allow this to continue?

According to a 2010 report from the pentagon, mental health issues are the number one cause of hospitalization among male and number two cause of hospitalization among female military service members.  The report further states that, " Most notably in this regard, the rate of incident diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) increased nearly six-fold from 2003 to 2008," (Keyes) These stats vary between services but may not be perfect predictors of differences between the Marine Corps, Navy, Army and Air Force.  Different forces may be using different ratings to gauge results or perhaps skew the results based on military service perception*.

The Pentagon report was released in 2010 and based on military service members serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. What are the numbers involved today? News contributor, Dr. Ben Carson, stated that the scandal was a “gift from God,” (Bobic) because it uncovers what has been happening when bureaucrats are placed between service members and medical services. September 8th, Veterans Affairs new Secretary and former Army Ranger, Robert McDonald released information about his plans for reform and his push to get over 294,000 vets off waiting lists (Matishak) and in cases as I stated earlier, providing referrals for non-VA medical attention to approximately 1 million service members or their family members. This should relieve some of the undue stress that affects our military service members and their families as long as McDonalds statements are much less than boilerplate rhetoric.

Bobic, I. (2014, May 24). Ben Carson Calls Veterans Affairs Scandal A 'Gift From God' Retrieved September 12, 2014, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/24/ben-carson-veterans_n_5386590.html

Keyes, C. (2010, December 9). Report: Growing mental health problems in military. Retrieved September 12, 2014, from http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/12/09/military.mental.problems/index.html

Matishak, M. (2014, September 8). VA chief unveils plan to fix troubled agency. Retrieved September 13, 2014, from http://thehill.com/policy/defense/216947-va-chief-unveils-plan-to-fix-agency


*PTSD, mental health and how it affects military family members is certainly a focus of mine and I am not attempting to distract from all of the injuries involved in all services since World War II to today.



August 2014

On July 22nd of 2014, President Obama signed into law the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).  The law has combined several areas of need including providing opportunities to aid in filling the 23-million work-place positions that the country will fall short of by 2022 as predicted by The Georgetown University Center on Education and the 
Workforce.  One thing that I feel this law has done is to reduce the rehabilitation Act of 1973 to a segment of the larger Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) law.  This is a shame because at the same time WIOA streamlines some areas of government involvement and duties it also appears to downplay the significance of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the improvements and changes that have been made for society through the Act since then.  Some celebrate the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the changes involved as a success.  I hope to investigate this issue and present the pros and cons of the new law in the context of an aspiring Occupational Therapy worker and an independent remodeling and renovations worker and therapy farm observer.

I cannot directly find or relate how this new law will be presented to the community unless through grass roots movements and organizations that lobbied for the law like the AOTA of which I am a member.  My question is who will tell the disabled who would like to join or re-join the workforce about the law unless Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, doctors and related professionals demand the attention of the opportunities that this law creates.  Will human resource managers announce that their company is openly backing the new law and making every effort to hire disabled workers or will this new law be pushed under the blanket of the American Disabilities Act?  

The ADA only provides tools and resources to make it possible for most disabled people to gain access to jobs but it does not bolster opportunities for all potential workers to join the work force.
I’m not suggesting that businesses hire employees simply because they must meet a quota defined by any overseer.  I am also certainly not suggested that businesses hire unqualified people to fill positions.  I cannot do certain jobs because I am not trained to do them.  You do not want me to work toward improving communications satellites just as you wouldn’t want me to manage your 5-star excusive resort or work under the hood of your car (unless it is a Toyota made in the 1980’s).
I am suggesting that some initiative be taken by schools across the board, public, private, charter and university to educate students about the new law.  Let future workers know that there is a demand for what they can offer if they pursue skills that will make them competitive in the workforce.  We all have something to offer the world but not knowing that we can actually offer that something to the world, to the market place, to communities is a cruel place to be.  We demand that action be taken against bullies but when do we demand that action be taken toward activity?  It is not right for Joseph to bully Christiana because her cerebral palsy makes it difficult for her to walk and communicate verbally.  It is also not right for Christiana’s teachers or other care and support givers to not or not be able to tell her that if she really wants to get that job improving communications satellites this is what she needs to do to reach that goal.