Some people like to say their work is more than a job, but a mission. For these Veterans Affairs employees, that statement could not be more fitting.
Last week the National VA Council hosted the NVAC/AFGE National Health and Safety Conference, where hundreds of dedicated public servants gathered to share best practices and improve their service veterans. But this wasn’t some paid training. Everyone who attended the conference did so on their own time - sacrificing their vacation leave and time away from their families to learn the latest techniques in patient care.
During in-depth workshops attendees explored new tools and procedures; and even learned ways to deal with work related stress and bullying. One particular issue that truly touched a nerve with attendees was new information on the spread and handling of mold. Mold is part of our natural environment and can be found everywhere. The fungus is harmless outdoors but becomes dangerous when found indoors and inhaled on a daily basis. Mold can contaminate anything it comes in contact with, which makes the careful handling and control of samples, tools, and medicine that much more important. Attendees learned how to identify the fungus as well as recognize symptoms induced by the hazardous compound.
A critical workshop highlighting the spread of Ebola and other infectious diseases to health care workers provided hands on training of control measures and selection of personal protective equipment. Select workshops also trained employees on preventing cuts from sharp objects, falling and tripping on the job, hazardous drugs, and workplace violence. The new training was incredibly necessary in helping VA employees continue to provide the quality care they give to our veterans every single day.
“We are so proud of every one of our VA employees who wake up every day and do the real work of keeping the promise to our nation’s veterans,” said AFGE National President J. David Cox, Sr. “I know from my decades working in the VA that these workers love the veterans the serve, and are proud to give back to those who sacrificed so much for all of us.”
Caring for veterans is so personal for VA employees because roughly half of AFGE’s VA membership are veterans themselves, or come from veteran household. They share a bond of service, pride, and dedication to mission with their patients that you can’t find in any other health care or benefits system. Their deep passion for the mission is what makes the VA special.
For almost 20 years, the conference has helped ensure VA employees are up-to-date on the latest safety techniques and procedures when providing care to our nation’s veterans.
“I’m glad that we have our Health & Safety Conference,” said one attendee. “It is so important that we keep educated on these issues.” Another conference attendee called it the “best training in years.”