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DorobekINSIDER: Roger Baker to leave VA ‘in the near future’

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Roger BakerRoger Baker, the chief information officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs, is leaving that post “in the near future.”

Baker doesn’t offer a final date, but some insiders suggest it could be as soon as March 1.

In the time of transition, Baker is the latest to announce that he is leaving his post. NASA CIO Linda Cureton announced she is leaving that post at the end of the month.

At VA, Baker oversees IT for the government’s second largest agency — a $3.3 billion budget and more than 7,000 IT workers.

The VA under Baker, who was confirmed by the Senate in May, 2009, has made remarkable progress and he has won just about every award — including Federal Computer Week’s 2013 Federal 100 award.  

The VA CIO is in a unique position given that post has power over government spending. In 2010, when Baker was recognized with the GCN civilian executive of the year, he stressed the importance of having the power of the purse and his ability to use that authority to bring about change. VA’s success should be a lesson to the rest of government, he said. Because VA has a consolidated IT appropriation, it allows Baker and his staff to force changes. “Money is power in the government,” he said. “Money is love.”

“The consolidated IT appropriation is absolutely essential to driving real change in the IT results of an agency,” he noted at the time, and he future said that all federal CIOs should have authority over their IT budgets, he added. “The results at VA, the second largest federal agency, speak for themselves,” Baker said. “Empower CIOs to make real change happen.”

Read Baker’s note to staff following the break:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

February 15, 2013 at 2:01 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

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Story mentioned on air… Vets using tech to recover from stress disorders

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On Federal News Radio’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris today, we were chatting about DOD pondering a requirement to have everybody returning from war zones undergo an assessment about whether they are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said there’s a reluctance to acknowledge psychological problems for fear of showing weakness. Troops now fill out questionnaires after combat tours that help determine if they have suffered psychological damage. They’re examined by medical professionals for physical injuries, but not by mental health experts.

It’s a great idea.

Combat trauma theater [Government Health IT, February 19, 2007]
Virtual reality technologies are helping combat veterans overcome the mental wounds of war

The scene from the front of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) offers a postcard view of palm trees swaying in the breeze, rain-greened hills and, in the distance, the Pacific Ocean, marked by the wake of a Navy cruiser leaving Pearl Harbor.

In a nondescript VAMC conference room on the fifth floor at the Pacific Telehealth and Technology Hui, the visions of paradise fade to the reality of combat. After donning a head-mounted virtual reality display, you’re bouncing behind the steering wheel of a Humvee making its way down what looks like a street in Iraq.

At first, the drive seems routine. A woman clad in black crosses the road while a civilian SUV turns in front of the Humvee. The only sounds are engine noises. Dr. Sarah Miyahira, co-director of the Virtual Reality Behavioral Health Program and Laboratory at the center, then asks a technician to turn up the intensity.

The SUV suddenly swerves in front of the Humvee, and the vehicle’s occupants start firing machine guns. A rocket-propelled grenade comes within inches of the Humvee’s windshield. The rat-a-tat-tat of combat fills the room. Then the technician turns off the action, and the room returns to silence.

Miyahira, a VA psychologist, wants to use this immersive experience to help treat Iraq war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Using virtual reality to treat PTSD has its roots in the traditional treatment for the disorder, imaginal exposure therapy. In that therapy, a patient repeatedly describes traumatic events to a therapist and, in the process, tries to overcome memories, similar to those that have afflicted more than 800,000 Vietnam War veterans.

The virtual reality experience benefits those who cannot or will not conjure the images that cause them stress, Miyahira said. Virtual reality therapy helps break down those barriers by gradually reintroducing patients to the scenes of their trauma. Patients usually attend 10 therapist sessions during a five-week period, Miyahira said.

Continuing reading this fascinating story here.

Written by cdorobek

October 13, 2008 at 5:34 PM