What is Storytelling Relational Processes of Veterans Situation in the USA? Blog post by David M. Boje, Ph.D. Sep 9 2015

What is Storytelling Relational Processes of Veterans Situation in the USA?

Storytelling is the total of all involvements in the spacetimemattering of a context, in this post, the veterans of the USA. Here we focused on the system of health care veterans receive and the storytelling relational process that constitutes the ‘meaning of care’ for veterans Being-in-VA-Health-care.

According to the report ‘Fixing Veterans Health Care” from Converned Veterans for America,  (http://taskforce.cv4a.org/):

“One of the principal problems with the delivery of health care in the United States is its uncoordinated nature. In particular, patients with multiple chronic conditions may be seeing multiple physicians who do not talk to each other, leading to overlapping prescriptions and in some cases, dangerous mistakes. ‘Badly coordinated care, duplicated efforts, bungled handoffs, and failures to follow up result in too much care for some patients, too little care for others, and the wrong care for many’ observed Katherine Baiker and Hellen Levy in 2013” (see p.age 50 of the report).

For every narrative about the successful delivery of quality care to veterans, there are counternarratives about the bungled handoffs, failure to follow up and the thousands of veterans that died waiting for an appointment to get care.

Besides the narratives and counternarratives about the generalized picture of veterans health care in the USA, there are the actual lived experiences of individual veterans their ‘living stories’ of places, times, and mattering of health care delivery.

Finally, there are the antenarrative threads out of which the dominant (grand) narratives (& counternarratives) of veterans’ healthcare, and the living story web of the veterans experience — are constituted.  Antenarratives are the ‘what’ of narratives and living stories, the lies before, beneath, between, the bets on the future, and the becoming of care that is ‘not yet.’ For more on antenarrative, please consult the Antenarrative Blog.

Our focus here is on the complexity dynamics of the entire storytelling patterns, the interplay of narratives, stories, and antenarrative threads. We call this ‘Quantum Storytelling’ dynamics.

And we are doing an annual conference, this year in Los Angeles in December http://bigstoryconference.com.

Examples of Dominant Narratives and Counternarratives of Healthcare for Veterans

“The Veterans Health Administration is America’s largest integrated health care system with over 1,700 sites of care, serving 8.76 million Veterans each year” (http://www.va.gov/health/). The narrative continues with VHA’s accomplishments in Suicide Prevention: “VA is collaborating with community organizations throughout the month, with specially trained suicide prevention coordinators in VA medical centers across the nation spreading the word at local events, sponsoring health fairs, and working with the Department of Defense to help Veterans and Service members get the support they deserve. In addition, VA is coordinating with local and regional groups — including community partners, Veterans Service Organizations, health care providers and prominent Veteran supporters — to spread the word about VA’s mental health resources.” – See more at: http://www.va.gov/HEALTH/NewsFeatures/2015/September/One-Powerful-Number-Could-Save-a-Life.asp#sthash.YSg0Eiy1.dpuf

But, the counternarratives, question: are veterans really getting the healthcare they deserve?

VA IG Confirms Worst Fears: 300,000 Vets Really Did Die While Waiting For Healthcare

“Allegations of mismanagement at the Veterans Health Administration’s Health Eligibility Center led to an investigation by the VA office of the inspector general, which turned up some astounding discoveries. Exactly 867,000 veterans still have their healthcare applications listed as pending in the database.”  Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2015/09/03/va-ig-confirms-worst-fears-300000-vets-really-did-die-while-waiting-for-healthcare/#ixzz3lGFbx9uH

El Paso has longest wait for VA mental health appointments in U.S.

Staff shortages key cause of long waits, VA says

“Veterans in the El Paso area have to wait longer for mental health appointments at Veterans Affairs facilities than veterans anywhere else in the country, according to VA statistics.”

“El Paso veterans are waiting nearly 17 days on average for a mental health appointment — more than double the wait of veterans in nearly all other areas of Texas, according to VA data on pending appointments as of July 1.”

Next, we leave the narratives and counternarratives and look at the living stories.


A living story has its place, time, and mattering in spacetimemattering.

I am a Vietnam-veteran.I came home with PTSD, but there was no such diagnostic category, until 1980. Half the homeless US veterans are Vietnam era. APA changed the DSM manual for our generation, not admitting PTSD until the 1980 edition.

My own living story is coming home from a year’s deployment in Vietnam war, on 29 July 1970, I was cautioned to take off my uniform, put on civilian clothes, and toss the uniform into the trash, lest I be mobbed by protesters. So I arrived in Oakland, on a TWA flight, and did as instructed. We were not given a welcome by the nation, nor did airlines ask us to board first, or thank us for our service to the country.  No, the nation saw the nightly news, the ways the war was not going well, and so on.

I was assigned to Fort Dix, New Jersey, where I served out my remaining time in the Army until 28 January 1971. I got an early out to attend college, the first in my family tree to do so. I enrolled at Burlington County College (now Burlington County University), moved the family into a Princess 60 foot mobile home, in Browns Mills, New Jersey.


Table is from http://davidboje.com/Warwick/ which has more on history of DSM.

The point is when I came home from Vietnam, with what is now PTSD, the psychologists had written out stress from trauma, from their manual. DSM IV expanded PTSD to just about everything, and now, PTSD in DSM-V is only for a particular battle, that meets certain criteria (see http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/PTSD-overview/dsm5_criteria_ptsd.asp).

To make a long story short, I am home addicted to alcohol, and full of stress I did not know what to do with, except to channel it into work. So two addictions, alcohol and work were my way of dealing with it.

Like most veterans I did not go near the VA except to get education or mortgage loan money. And in fact, never did use VA treatment. Instead I got into self-improvement seminars, and got some marriage counseling.

I was a A student all the way through college, graduated tops in my class at Burlington University’ two year program, and again at Rider University’s 4 year program. This got me a fellowship to University of Illinois, a pass into the MBA, then acceleration into their Ph.D. program, and UCLA was my first assistant professor job. I drank a six pack every day and two on weekend days, from 1970s through to about 1994. I always drank after doing my work.

21 years ago, I stopped drinking, and went through divorce, and bankruptcy, since in Las Angeles, could not afford one household, and when the X took off to New York with the kids, and bought a new car, all I could do was go into the downward spiral of divorce and bankruptcy. I decided to quit the booze, and that turned things around.

One time I took the MMPI and a psychologist told me he could cure my workaholism, but it would mean I would not be a prolific a publisher. I said ‘no way’ and never went back.

So my living story of my struggle with stress, how it got hold of me, in Vietnam, and let it run its course as a marriage of 25 years destructed, and I learned the ‘true’ mean of deconstruction, and reconstruction.

In my new marriage, horses came with the package, along with the requirement I get some real counseling, which I did in 1995, and since.  Now I have a small ranch, loving marriage, and meditate and try to tame the workaholic monster.


The antenarratives are threads of intention that constitute the narratives and living stories, and are what constitutes all the involvements of storytelling in a context of spacetimemattering. 

How is antenarrative a relational process of organizations and their participants’ storytelling?

In last several books we have take a ‘quantum’ storytelling relational process standpoint. This means we are working on the dynamic  complexity patterns of antenarrative, especially what we are calling ‘quantum storytelling.’

Quantum storytelling is an ontologic analysis of ongoing patterns of the storytelling, including the a of antenarrative: the cycles, spirals, and rhizomatics of those patterns.

 I have participated in 3 books on the topic:

Being Quantum: Ontological Storytelling in the Age of Antenarrative 2014 BOOK edited by David M. Boje and Tonya Wakefield Available from Amazon or Cambridge Scholars Publishing Ltd is registered in England. Reg. No: 4333775; VAT No: 108280727

Organizational Change and Global Standardization: Solutions to Standards and Norms Overwhelming Organizations by David M. Boje (Editor)  2015) (Routledge Studies in Organizational Change & Development)Hardcover – Available now.

Organizational Development and Change Theory: Managing Fractal Organizing Processes by Tonya Henderson (Author),David M. Boje (Author)Available August 1st 2015 – available Routledge.

In sum,Storytelling is the total of all involvements in the spacetimemattering of a context, the interplay of narratives (counternarratives), people’s living stories, and the antenarrative threads between-beneath-before-bets and the becoming of care. For care to take a different shape for veterans in the USA, we need to understand not only the base, but the future, the potentiality-for-Being of the becoming-of-care in authentic ways for our veterans.

See you at bigStory Conference http://bigstoryconference.com

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