VA practitioners reporting higher levels of burnout due to pandemic

In today's Federal Newscast, more employees at the Veterans Health Administration say they experienced burnout in 2021 compared to previous years.

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  • It’s official. Most federal employees will get a pay raise in 2022. President Biden signed an executive order making an average 2.7% pay raise official for civilian employees next year. That includes a 2.2% across the board raise, with an additional 0.5% in locality pay adjustments. The raises go into effect during the first pay period in January. A 2.7% pay raise is more than the 1% bump federal employees got in 2021. (Federal News Network)
  • More employees at the Veterans Health Administration say they experienced burnout in 2021 compared to previous years. That’s one of the many findings from VA’s latest report from its pandemic response. The department said it also lost more nurses this year than the previous two. It’s exploring alternative arrangements so VA nurses and clinicians can take short sabbaticals or take on short assignments rather than leaving the field altogether. VA clinicians helped with a total 158 FEMA details through the department’s fourth mission. It also published over 300 studies on COVID-19 since the pandemic started.
  • The Air and Space Forces now have about 10,000 requests for religious exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccine throughout the total force. About 2,100 have been processed and all have been denied. More than 130 have been appealed and also denied. The Department of the Air Force said it is trying to process the requests as quickly and transparently as possible. To date, 95% of the total Air and Space Force are vaccinated.
  • The Air Force has a new resource for military families. The Air Force is starting its Thrive and Five initiative to focus on the top issues concerning families. Those include: childcare, healthcare, education, spouse employment and housing. The program is led by Sharene Brown, the wife of the Air Force chief of staff. Thrive and Five will release monthly situation reports to families to ensure they are up to date on the latest military policies from leadership. Brown’s group will also travel to various bases to collect best practices and listen to concerns. The organization has already put out a guidebook to help families navigate the top five issues. The book also covers confusing acronyms and other aspects of military life. (Federal News Network)
  • Three agencies jointly release new guidance on dealing with the Log4J cybersecurity threat. In fact, several nations join together as evidence mounts that hackers are scanning networks worldwide, looking for the Log4J weakness. Now the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the National Security Agency and the FBI have issued a fresh advisory. They’re joined by cyber officials in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Canada. The new guidance has more, and more detailed, steps organizations can take to find and mitigate the vulnerability.
  • The Biden administration is moving ahead with proposed cyber incident reporting rules for federal contractors. Agencies plan to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking in February. The measure is a part of President Biden’s cybersecurity executive order. It directed agencies to develop contract language to define cyber incident reporting requirements. Key questions include what kinds of incidents will require reporting, and what types of contractors will be covered by the proposed language. Industry will have 60 days to comment once the rulemaking is published.
  • The Pentagon gets its Senate-confirmed chief information officer. He’d already been filling the role since January, but when John Sherman sat down at his desk this week, he got to remove the acting in front of his title. Sherman was sworn in as the Defense Department’s CIO after being confirmed by the Senate on Dec. 14. Sherman has a busy 2022 on his agenda. Information technology like artificial intelligence and machine learning are central to DoD’s modernization plans. The Pentagon is still pursuing a cloud environment, this time with multiple companies through the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability. And the CIO’s office is also taking on a bigger role overseeing the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification standards.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs has a new senior executive in charge of its homeless prevention efforts in the greater Los Angeles area. VA named clinical psychologist Keith Harris as the go-between the department’s central office and the LA medical center. VA is in the middle of revitalizing the West Los Angeles campus into a community for homeless veterans. Harris will lead that project. LA is an epicenter for homeless veterans across the country.

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