Vexed Veterans: The Continuum of Care in the VA

Written By: John Cosenza

On January 6th, 2016 outrage ensued across the nation as Esteban Santiago-Ruiz, a military veteran with a history of mental health issues, opened fire on innocent travelers in Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Shortly after the shooting, Florida Governor Rick Scott labeled the incident a ‘senseless act of evil.’ Yet, is it that simple? Was this simply a random act of evil or another unfortunate event stemming from a much larger issue? Should the American public support the execution of this troubled man? Or, should the American public take a moment and ask why veterans are more prone to act out violently?

The effectiveness of preventing acts of violence by means of execution or imprisonment is up for debate, but is no doubt a short-term solution. Moreover, the Veteran’s Health Administration (VA) has faced intense public scrutiny in recent years; the 2014 Phoenix facility scandal being the catalyst for uncovering widespread corruption and incompetence. Perhaps then, it is time to reevaluate the VA’s ability to implement effective means of long-term care for veterans suffering with mental and behavioral health illness.

However, before any solution can be brought to the table, it is first necessary to determine the origins of this melancholy event. In order to gain more knowledgeable insight on this topic, Meta interviewed a military veteran who wishes to remain anonymous. The following conversation highlights struggles of transitioning veterans and discusses strategies that may improve the continuum of care within the VA.

Q: If you were in a position to prevent another incident like Ft. Lauderdale, what would you do or change about the VA?

A: First, I would just like to say the VA has excellent programs like free healthcare, free education, financial compensation, therapy, and employment opportunities. I was able to get a college degree because of the VA. But there is definitely room for improvement. There should be a serious effort to establish more accessible care. Local VA facilities like VA urgent care centers or VA walk in clinics should be established rather than have one hospital that might be 40, 50, or more miles away. Second, and more importantly, the VA needs to take a stronger stance on educating returning veterans and their families. It should be mandatory for the VA to register returning veterans so they can quickly reach out and discuss the programs they offer, where you can seek help, etc. Many veterans don’t seek help because they simply feel as if no one cares, or they don’t matter to our society, or don’t know what kind of help is available. If you don’t make an effort to seek help, then you will never get it. A simple phone call from a VA physician or employee, a call that veterans usually never get, can, in my opinion, make a big difference.

Q: Were you contacted by the VA when you arrived home?

A: No. I was home for 5 months and was never contacted by anyone from the VA. It was not until a friend finally convinced me to visit my closest facility that I spoke with someone from the VA. If I had not made the effort to go, I don’t think I would have ever been contacted.

Q: Do you think the VA failed Esteban in this manner?

A: It was not just the VA. Many channels failed. His family noticed his behavioral changes when he came home and that should have been the first red flag. In his mind he was, what we call ‘down range’, or still back in Iraq or Afghanistan. He went to the FBI and sought help, who then washed their hands and turned him over to the local police because he apparently did not present any serious issues, even after admitting to hearing voices and other things that should have been taken as serious red flags. This man sought help and it should have been followed all the way through, from the FBI, to the local police, to his local VA facility. Once his local VA facility learned of the situation, they should have reached out to him and continued to keep tabs on him. I don’t know if they did or didn’t, but this is where we must improve. Getting veterans to seek care is hard enough so when a veteran actually seeks care because they know things aren’t right you can’t let them slip through the cracks.

Q: Do you think this is a method the VA can use to bring about a more effective continuum of care?

A: Yes. The VA can improve long-term care by establishing a serious outreach community and culture. Did the FBI or police contact his local VA facility and warn them of his condition? I don’t know, but if they did, did the VA contact Esteban and ask him to come in for an evaluation? Did anybody contact his family to see how he was doing or to educate them on VA services? Did anybody check with him after he got his weapon back or call him to just see how he’s doing, or if he needed help? These are the questions we need to start asking. It is very easy for someone to slip through the cracks if nobody is keeping tabs or showing concern. Beyond follow up appointments or getting back lab or test results, you typically don’t hear from anybody in the VA. It seems like nobody learns their lessons or is held accountable, or updates policies to handle these situations that present similar red flags. They often wash their hands and move on. The VA ought to update their standard procedures or protocols to meet this type of persistent outreach.

This conversation of course does not reflect the experiences of every veteran. As stated above, the VA provides excellent services that benefits thousands of veterans throughout their transition process. However, as our conversation ended it became more apparent Esteban, a mentally disturbed man who sacrificed his life to serve our country, possibly faces execution; likely due to the lack of proper care, education, and outreach. Not necessarily because he was an incarnation of evil. Yet, there may be solutions to prevent further acts of violence.

Firstly, the VA can be localized to meet needs of veteran communities. Integrating urgent care centers or walk in clinics with VA physicians and services can be an incentive for veterans to seek care who currently have to drive hours or across state boarders. Secondly, the establishment of serious and persistent outreach may prove effective. In fact, the VA has cited studies in suicide prevention which support this notion. Indeed, a 2009 report titled Strategies for Suicide Prevention in Veterans cited a study in which two groups of patients, one controlled and one experimental, were seen in a Pittsburgh hospital. The study reveals, after discharge,

“Patients were in contact with staff at least biweekly to provide treatment, or to monitor the treatment when it was provided by other services. Patients assigned to the control group were treated in the usual manner in the ER or hospital, and released with written appointments; no attempts were made to provide outreach to those who failed to follow up. The outcome was the number of suicide reattempts in the 4 month follow up period. The treatment group had 4.8% reattempt rate, while the control group had a 15.8% reattempt rate, a statistically significant difference” (Shekelle, Bagley, Munjas 20).

In the same report, a study conducted in San Francisco on patients admitted to psychiatric hospitals for depression and violent outbreaks bare significant similarities to the previous study. Indeed, the results reveal,

“Patients in the contact group received short, personalized letters from staff who had conducted their initial interviews expressing concern about the patient, and inviting the patient to respond. Patients in the no-contact group and those who had complied with the initial post-discharge therapy received no letters. In five years after the index contact, the treatment (contact) group had a suicide rate of 3.9% compared to the control (no-contact) group at 4.6%” (Shekelle, Bagley, Munjas 24).

It is difficult to determine whether civilian based strategies will have the same effect on military veterans, whose life experiences are drastically different. However, if the VA is aware of these benefits, have they taken necessary measures to implement wide scale outreach programs?  If not, perhaps the VA can invest in outreach methodologies such as registering and contacting returning veterans to schedule evaluations and discuss different pathways of care, as the interviewee suggests. From there, the VA can improve long-term outreach efforts with their patients to accurately determine the next steps of care, if needed. This experiment may produce similar results from the studies above and, in turn, reduce violence among veterans and ultimately improve the VA’s continuum of care. These simple strategies can bring a glimmer of hope to veterans who feel they don’t matter to society or don’t know if they should seek care. In some cases, a simple glimmer of hope may have a significant impact. Although establishing local VA facilities and providing persistent outreach will not solve every issue within the VA, it apparently continues to be an overlooked, but obvious starting point.

 

 

References:

Bowman, Dan. “Lawmakers Approve $260M for VistA Modernization, but Demand Interoperability With DOD.” FierceHealthcare, Mar. 28th, 2016.

Shekelle, Paul MD., Bagley Steven MD, MS., Munjas, Brett BA. “Strategies for Suicide Prevention in Veterans.” Department of Veterans Affairs Health Services Research & Development Service, January 2009.

Interview with: Anonymous Military Veteran. January 10th, 2016.

Trump, EHR, & Meaningful Use: Continued Investment in Healthcare IT? Or the End of an Entitlement?

Written By: John Cosenza

The twenty first century is often characterized as the age of information with rapid advances in technology fundamentally altering human interaction and perception. Making up nearly 20% of the U.S. domestic economy, the healthcare industry is naturally adopting new technologies such as Electronic Health Records (EHRs) to achieve a higher standard of efficiency and patient care. Indeed, a 2008 New England Journal of Medicine study revealed,

82% of EHR users report improved clinical decision-making, 92% report improvement in communication with other providers and their patients, and 82% of users report a reduction in medication errors” (Palabindala, Pamarthy, Jonnalagadda 1).

In 2009, the Obama Administration enacted the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Since enactment, the federal government has provided tens of billions of dollars to incentivize healthcare facilities to adopt and implement three stages of ‘Meaningful Use’ (MU) based EHR systems. As expected, this initiative has significantly increased EHR implementation across healthcare facilities within United States.

However, President Elect Donald Trump and the dominant Republican Congress view government responsibility and roles entirely differently than the Obama administration. Limited regulatory oversight and government funded projects are at the core of conservative ideology. If conservative thought prevails in Washington, what does this mean for MU standards and EHR implementation, which have been funded by the federal government in accordance with the HITECH and ARRA?

As of now it is unclear whether businessman Donald Trump, a strong proponent of lowering tax rates to stimulate economic growth, will continue to support government funded programs like HITECH. Although improvements to the U.S. healthcare system was a core component of Trump’s campaign, he did not specifically address EHR systems or MU standards. In a series of interviews with MedCity News, healthcare professionals and EHR experts argue it is unlikely a Trump presidency will slow down digital health momentum. Julie Papanek, pharma and digital health venture capitalist at Canaan Partners, argues,

“the election of President Trump is unlikely to derail the future of digital health. Many of the incentives in the government including the HITECH act as well as value based incentive programs are not all tied to the ACA” (Parmar, Baum 1).

In fact, certain individuals argue a Trump presidency will increase the demand and utilization of EHR systems. Indeed, Andrew Danielson, vice chair of licensing at the Mayo Clinic Ventures in Minnesota, confidently predicts,

 “any changes to the ACA will have a relatively small impact on the need/enthusiasm/drive for using digital health. Providers like Mayo, Cleveland Clinic, and others see digital health as a key initiative. I would imagine that whatever replaces the ACA will take this into account and continue the push for IT efficiency gains in healthcare(Parmar, Baum 1).

If these individuals are correct the future of government supported digital health systems are secure. This claim can be further supported with the recent bipartisan passing of the 21st Century Cures Act, which among other healthcare issues, calls for continued efforts in government funded EHR incentivization. Albeit a Trump administration taking office in a couple of weeks,

“the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall issue guidance to further the voluntary transition of health care providers between different certified EHR technology by removing disincentives to such transition” (114th Congress).

However, it is wise to presume Trump will attempt to deliver on his campaign promises and aggressively push for a significant transition of healthcare funding to sectors such as infrastructure or job stimulation. A prolonged era of public tax reduction and a gradual decrease in healthcare expenditures may directly result in healthcare facilities, who previously relied on government funding, to foot much of their own EHR costs. This likely transition may convince healthcare administrators to postpone or even abandon EHR implementation, unraveling years of government funded projects. Is there an alternative method that effectively ensures incentivization independent of federal funding? Possibly.

It is possible the Trump Administration will use a conservative approach similar to the Carrier deal. The Trump administration could potentially implement corporate tax breaks and deregulate MU standards for EHR corporations and businesses. This possibility becomes more realistic with organizations like the American Hospital Association (AHA) pleading the Trump administration to cancel MU stage 3 so hospitals don’t have to spend a fortune “upgrading their electronic health records solely to meeting regulatory requirements” (Slabodkin). Indeed, Richard Pollack, AHA president and CEO quotes,

“We urge your Administration to modify or eliminate duplicative, excessive, antiquated and contradictory provider regulations. Reducing the administrative complexity of healthcare would save billions of dollars annually and would allow providers to spend more time on patients, not paperwork” (Slabodkin).

Deregulation can potentially save EHR vendors and hospitals large quantities of money and result in a significant reduction of costs for their products and services. Perhaps this can create an alternate incentivization program; one that is market based and enables healthcare facilities to shop among competing businesses rather than be entirely dependent on federal funding. This strategy may appear more sensible over time considering,

“Federal investment in EHR implementation across the country as part of HITECH has already reached $25 billion, and without addressing the barriers to successful implementation, this venture threatens to be an ongoing waste of public tax dollars with limited benefit to patients and physicians alike” (Palabindala, Pamarthy, Jonnalagadda 3).

At this rate, the average American tax payer, numbered at approximately 122 million, has already contributed at least $200. On the contrary, deregulation may potentially underpin unprecedented consequences within the digital health industry. Increasing market competition or deregulating MU standards may potentially hinder objectives such as achieving high quality patient care or nationwide interoperability. At this point, it is unclear if this strategy would be more efficient or more cost effective in delivering EHR implementation. Regardless, it is interesting to speculate what may potentially happen as the political shift radically changes with President Elect Trump, his administration, and the 115th Congress taking office in the coming weeks.

 

References:

Kruse, Clemens Scott, Katy Bolton, and Greg Freriks. “The Effect of Patient Portals on Quality Outcomes and Its Implications to Meaningful Use: A Systematic Review.” Ed. Gunther Eysenbach. Journal of Medical Internet Research 17.2 (2015): e44. PMC. Web. 6 Dec. 2016.

Palabindala, Venkataraman, Amaleswari Pamarthy, and Nageshwar Reddy Jonnalagadda. “Adoption of Electronic Health Records and Barriers.” Journal of Community Hospital Internal Medicine Perspectives 6.5 (2016): 10.3402/jchimp.v6.32643. PMC. Web. 6 Dec. 2016.

Parmar, Arundhati and Baum, Stephanie. Is President-elect Trump an Existential Threat to Digital Health? MedCity News, Nov 14, 2016: Web. 6 Dec. 2016

Slabodkin, George. “AHA asks Trump to Cancel Meaningful Use Stage 3.” Health Data Management, Dec. 2nd, 2016.

https://www.congress.gov/114/bills/hr6/BILLS-114hr6rfs.pdf

The Future of American Trumpcare

Written By: John Cosenza

Over the past year, the historical 2016 presidential election ignited an exhaustive campaign that fed on several divisive issues and policies. At the core of this heated debate was the United States’ healthcare system, which under the Obama Administration, underwent a revolutionary transformation. The primary role of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly referred to as Obamacare, was to improve access to health insurance, expand Medicaid eligibility, and provide subsidies for socio-economically disadvantaged citizens. Indeed, the ACA accomplished its primary objective by

 “considerably expanding access, with more than 20 million individuals gaining coverage – 60% through Medicaid” (Gostin, Hyman, Jacobson 1).

Yet, it quickly appeared the ACA was a double-edged sword not absent of pejorative consequences. Criticism soon followed when Healthcare.gov failed to launch, employers were forced to provide more costly insurance plans, individuals experienced costly premium spikes, costly deductible spikes, and decreased access to competitive insurance plans (Claxton, Rae, Panchal, Whitmore, Damico, Kenward, Long 1). Additionally, a 2014 study published by the Commonwealth Fund, an organization that strongly supports the ACA, described the U.S. health care system as the most expensive and the worst in quality of 11 nations studied, dropping from fifth in 2004 (Manchikant, Hirsch 3). In wake of these unprecedented events, and as a campaign promise, President Elect Donald Trump pledged to repeal and replace the ACA. Now that Mr. Trump has secured the White House and is backed by a Republican Congress determined to alter or entirely remove the ACA, many Americans can’t help but beg the question; what is in store for America’s healthcare system? According to Gail Wilensky, a health economist and author of The Future of the ACA and Health Care Policy in the United States,

 “it is always useful after elections to review what presidents can do and what Congress needs to do. Presidential policies are important because they frequently set the tone or direction of future legislation” (Wilensky 1).

President Elect Trump has certainly set a specific tone during his campaign over the last year. In regards to the ACA however, this familiar tone has evolved into something less subtle. Indeed, Trump’s first meeting with President Obama in November seemed promising as the current and future presidents discussed the benefits of the ACA and the future of America’s healthcare system. Perhaps in somewhat of a surprise, Trump supports existing policies of the ACA including,

 “health plans must enroll applicants regardless of preexisting conditions and health plans must keep dependent children on their parent’s plan until age 26” (Gosting, Hyman, Jacobson 1).

However, after a strong era of implementing universal healthcare, what else should Americans, especially the 20 million individuals now covered under Obamacare, expect in the coming months? Trump supports healthcare policies including privatizing VA insurance, “expanding health savings accounts (HSA’s), turning Medicaid into a block-grant program, allowing insurance plans to be sold across state lines, and allowing individuals who purchase their own health insurance to deduct their premiums from their income taxes” (Wilensky 1). The pros and cons of these policies can be analyzed individually to better predict the future of American healthcare.

A benefit of VA healthcare is the guarantee to low cost coverage. Unfortunately, many low-income veterans suffer from limited coverage options and long wait times due to inefficiency and bureaucratic ties. The privatization of VA healthcare may create networks of insurers, physicians, and hospitals that provide better quality coverage and care. Block grant programs are often effective because they allow states to tailor innovative Medicaid programs specific to their populations and underlying circumstances. In turn, innovative cost friendly plans can be replicated throughout the country. However, states with large pools of Medicaid populations such as New York and California would,

“probably reduce Medicaid eligibility and lower benefits, as states try to save taxpayer dollars” (Gosting, Hyman, Jacobson 2).

This may directly impact individuals in those states covered by Medicaid under the ACA. Allowing insurance to be sold across state lines can also be effective as this encourages healthy market competition. This policy may counter potential consequences of block grant programs because middle-low income individuals can seek low cost coverage. Unfortunately, many healthcare organizations and professionals establish networks that don’t accept out of state insurance. If the Trump administration can remove regulations that prevent out of state insurers from creating competitive networks in different states, this may be an effective policy that plays into the hands of all Americans.

Health savings accounts, tax-advantaged savings accounts one receives from their employer, have become increasingly popular in the U.S. due to cost effectiveness. On average, an HSA is less than traditional health insurance premiums and gives the individual more control over their health care choices. Furthermore, individuals who can purchase their own insurance and keep low cost deductibles via income tax is also a proven method. Consequently, many of the 20 million people covered under Obamacare receive incomes well below the poverty line. Such individuals are reluctant to purchase their own insurance and are not truly applicable to HSA’s. Those who pay little to no income tax receive government subsidies to fund their insurance coverage and thus, may not benefit from traditional conservative policies. Not all is lost however. Indeed, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Republicans in both the House and Senate

 “have made it clear that Republicans are not going to repeal the ACA without having alternative strategies in place that will cover approximately similar numbers of the newly insured populations” (Wilensky 2).

What is the American population to make of this unprecedented healthcare crossroad? Furthermore, what alternative strategies will be implemented to ensure those under Obamacare stay covered? Firstly, and regardless of political allegiance, it is clear the majority of Americans

“have been slowly climbing against Obamacare with 54% now opposing the law” (Manchikant, Hirsch 4).

Secondly, it is clear President Elect Trump and the Republican Party are not going to abandon 20 million newly insured citizens. To do so would be entirely detrimental to the conservative image; which is reluctant to be portrayed negatively after securing both the presidency and House for the first time in nearly a decade.

In fact, it is possible the ACA will be modified via legislative action in accordance with the Republican mandate known as the “Better Way” rather than be entirely repealed. It is likely President Elect Trump and the Republican Party will institute a hybrid system that utilizes market based methodologies to support and continue our current system. Congress must garnish the necessary super majority of 60 representatives within the Senate to implement full scale repeal, which is unlikely. If this fails, the ACA may be effectively repealed through a reconciliation process, which is also unlikely. If full scale repeal fails, the ACA will most likely undergo alteration. Ultimately, we must wait and see if market oriented reforms in “A Better Way” will be more or less successful in making healthcare more affordable and accessible than the ACA.

 

 

 

 

References:

Claxton, Gary. Rae, Matthew. Panchal, Nirmita. Whitmore, Heidi. Damico, Anthony. Kenward, Kevin. Long, Michelle. “Health benefits in 2015: Stable Trends in the Employer Market.” Health Aff (Millwood). 2015;34(10):1779-1788.

Gostin, Lawrence O. Hyman, David A. Jacobson, Peter D. “The Affordable Care Act Moving Forward in the Coming Years.” JAMA. Published online November 28, 2016. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.18908

Manchikanti, Laxmaiah MD, Hirsch, Joshua A. “Repeal and Replace of Affordable Care: A Complex, but Not an Impossible Task.” Health Policy Review, Nov-Dec 2016 Vol. 19, Issue. 8.

Wilensky, Gail R. “The Future of the ACA and Health Care Policy in the United States.” JAMA. Published online November 28, 2016. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.18762

EHR’s and the Future: Where do we go from here?

In 2011 the EHR Incentive Program set in motion a revolutionary medical adaption that is changing the way healthcare providers care for patients.  However, medicine is an ever improving practice with innovation often led by technological advances. EHR’s continue to make healthcare facilities evolve towards a totally paperless and more efficient system where information can be more readily shared by medical professionals. The efficiency of automated, electronic health records can dramatically improve communication, reduce medical errors, and positively affect patient outcomes.

After a strong era of EHR deployment, what’s next on the horizon of using technology to improve healthcare?

As technology advances, we see a prominent shift to mobile devices and wearable technology for all sorts of activities that 10, or even 5 years ago, we would never have imagined.  We can now track our steps, make a phone call, and ask an unlimited amount of questions to our phones and smart watches and receive an immediate, accurate response. We can check our bank accounts and send cash on the go at the touch of a button. It can be expected then, that the medical field will not be far behind. Already we can symptom check, get a “Doctor on Demand” and get health insurance information through mobile apps.  Incorporating remote monitoring systems into EHR programs and using mobile apps to integrate a national health exchange will be the new future in healthcare IT and EHR advancement.

Some hospitals have already begun to incorporate mobile patient interaction apps. Incorporating technology that can send secure text messaging, submit photos, and check out their symptoms that can be sent directly to their doctor for examination, into an EHR program would be a great advancement in the healthcare IT field. This would allow doctors to directly call patients if they feel further treatment is necessary and it would eliminate purposeless clinician visits. This information, securely sent to the clinicians, could be added into the patient’s profile within the facility’s EHR and can be used to assist healthcare professionals in diagnosing as well as treatment. However, this technology does not need to be utilized solely for post procedure symptoms.

Studies show 1 out of 10 Americans use fitness trackers today.  Although a smaller number of people own smartwatches, those who do own them utilize their equivalent fitness functions. This type of wearable technology can track steps, calories, activity level, heart rate, and sleep patterns. Unlike cellphones, wearable technology is in many cases worn even when asleep. This health information is not only extremely valuable for Americans trying to get healthy and lose weight but it can also be valuable for your next doctor or hospital visit.  In order to further the Meaningful Use of technology in the American healthcare system, pairing wearable technology with clinician EHR’s can be an extremely efficient and safe outlet to monitor and record patient health data. By utilizing this diagnostic equipment with apps that interface securely with EHR’s we can create an integrated health exchange.

“In one recent survey, US consumers responded that the most desired functions that they seek from wearables are the ability to exercise smarter and to collect and track medical information.”

Wearable technology can be utilized as a remote monitoring system that can relay messages back to clinicians in real-time or before their next doctor’s appointment. This will speed up the process of check in paperwork and medical questions. All of the information would be readily available to the clinician before the apt and much more information would be available for the clinician to analyze based of the information the technology picked up that the patient would not remember or be aware of. It can also set health alerts for when blood pressure or other vulnerable health levels are in a compromising and potentially fatal range. It can even be programmed to contact emergency services when necessary.  The purpose of this EHR integrated technology would not only be to assist clinicians with time management and safety but also to assist their patients in everyday life.

“Getting truly digital means not just having robots, but truly engaging patients outside your four walls.”

With today’s rate of EHR clinician frustrations rising to 83%, and 34% of clinicians without a current EHR refusing to integrate despite penalties, how can we move forward to an even more digital healthcare innovation that currently would not include software reimbursement?

The first step would be not following the traditional routes when selecting EHR vendors simply because of popularity. EHR satisfaction must be improved before even newer advancements are integrated. This can be accomplished when health enterprises work with innovative vendors who have demonstrated a willingness to work with clients and develop solutions to better promote healthcare.

An Interview with Meta’s own Military Hero

At a time of year when America celebrates those men and women who have served our country through military service, Meta is honored to have among us a military hero among our newest team members. Javier Tarazona spent 14 years helping to make our world a safer place through his military service, and is now transitioning to civilian life with a focus on improving patient safety through healthcare IT. It is a privilege for us to have him on Meta’s team.

Javier Tarazona has been with Meta since January 2016 as a Quality Assurance intern. His responsibilities include testing different versions of Meta products to ensure they work properly and writing reports for programmers. He works alongside them to fix any issues that arise. We asked Javier how he likes his job here at Meta, he replied,

“Meta is a company that I can grow with. Since coming to Meta I have been able to expand my skills professionally and as I grow with the company, I will continue to do so.”

Although before joining the Meta family, Javier had a very different set of job responsibilities.

javi1In 2000, Javier joined the United States Army. Instead of computer work, he jumped out of planes, trained soldiers and fought for our country every day; It was not your average 9-5 type of job. For 14 years Javier worked as a paratrooper, Staff Sergeant and Section Leader. He was stationed in many places throughout the United States and abroad, however, his favorite station was in Germany.

“In Germany, all the people are nice and welcoming. I spent a total of six years in Germany with the Army. The lifestyle is very different there.”

Javier was also stationed in Korea and during his time overseas has visited other countries  including Italy, Poland, and Austria. He also served several combat tours of duty, two in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.

Originally from Lima, Peru, Javier moved to the United States in 1994. Currently, Javier lives in Franklin Square, Long Island, a mere 10 minutes away from Meta, with his wife and two children. In his spare time, he enjoys playing soccer and spending time with his kids, Tiago and Ana. He is a senior at St. John’s University in Queens, New York with a major in computer science and a minor in healthcare informatics.

“After the completion of my degree at St. John’s, my goal is to get a full-time job here at Meta to continue to increase my skills and knowledge in the healthcare IT field. In the future I hope to attend nursing school to eventually become a clinical nurse. I may eventually go back into the military but for now these are my plans”

In the interview Javier expressed how thankful he is for what the military has helped him achieve. He has gotten to see the world and attend St. John’s University tuition-free under the G.I. bill, but really, it was not free. He has served our country in the most respectful and honorable way possible and that is what makes him Meta’s own hero. We asked Javier how serving our country has influenced his work ethic and schooling. He replied,

“The military has ingrained determination, commitment, dedication, discipline, and integrity in my personality. It has made me who I am today. The aspect of my time in the military that had the most impact on my life was the opportunity to train soldiers. I was able to be a role model for them. I directly impacted their life. Just like a father figure, I taught them to be a good person as well as a good soldier. Those would be my proudest moments”

On a less serious note, we wanted to get a feel for who Javier really is. We asked him to answer two questions with the first thing that came to his head.
If you could visit anywhere in the world where would you visit?

“I would visit Machu Pichu, Peru. Even though I am from Peru, and I go back there often to visit family, I have never made the hike up to Machu Pichu. It is truly said to be one of the seven wonders of the world.”

Name one thing on your bucket list.

“I would have to say I would want to go on a cruise. I have never been on one before. All I can think of is Titanic when I imagine a big ship so I haven’t wanted to push my luck after two tours but one day I will go on a cruise.”

At Meta, we take time out this Memorial Day weekend to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country. We are so thankful to have a hero such as Javier on our team of committed professionals and we thank Javier for all he has done for the U.S.

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