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Veterans Roundup: Veterans’ Charity Dissolved, Full Review of Veterans Benefits Program, Failure to Report Crimes and More

Posted by Fred Wellman

Roy Stanley IV: Military Brat
Roy Stanley IV (@RoyStanleyIV), Scout Blog
Roy Stanley IV is more than just one of our fall interns – he’s one of several military brats on our team, and he’s also a great writer. If you’ve ever wondered what the life of a military brat is like, or what effects it has on a person, check out his unique perspective in our latest Scout Blog! –AB

ScoutComms to sponsor Joe Galloway lifetime achievement Award
Scout Blog
We recently announced a recurring sponsorship of the Joe Galloway Lifetime Achievement Award – an Army Public Affairs Association award which recognizes extraordinary contributions to the practice and profession of public relations through a lifetime of sustained support to the U.S. Army and to the Army public affairs community. The 2017 award will be presented this week. –AB

Vietnam veterans charity dissolved after ‘egregious fraud’
David Jackson (@Poolcar4) and Gary Marx (@garyjmarx), Chicago Tribune
A Rockford, IL charity called VietNow, also known as VeteransNow, has raised more than $15 million over the past 10 years to help veterans with unemployment and post-traumatic stress disorder. As it turns out, 80 percent of those donations did not go to veterans. Instead, the for-profit telemarketers who raised the funds kept much of them and administrative costs took up much of the rest, which leaves little left for veteran programs. Illinois attorney general Lisa Madigan, as well as other state attorney generals, reached a settlement with VietNow, forcing the charity to come to a halt and distributing its assets to two legitimate charities, Fisher House Foundation and Operation Homefront. –SM
Bottom line: This really is a tough one. It would be easy to call this just another example of a fraudulent nonprofit using veterans to make money for the leaders. But when you unpack it all you find that none of the nonprofit’s leaders or board members were taking home any money at all. No, the real ugliness comes in with the telemarketer fundraisers who were taking home two-thirds of the money they raised and leaving hardly anything left for the nonprofits they were using as their money making machine. It’s gratifying to see those entities suffer too but in the end they will carry on milking money from other organizations and a decades-old nonprofit is out of business. It should make you angry that so many millions of dollars were taken out of the pockets of good people who just wanted to help veterans but instead they lined the pockets of unscrupulous businesses. So many nonprofits in the veterans sector have their hearts in the right place but are managed by people with other jobs or no understanding of business management and the organization suffers for the lack of focus and leadership. This could well be the case here and now the organization is dissolved. –FPW

VA Secretary wants full review of veterans benefits programs
Leo Shane III (@LeoShane), Military Times
VA Secretary Shulkin announced the formation of an advisory board that will review the lengthy process a veteran must undertake to receive benefits. His goal is to figure out how to simplify the process to increase efficiency and lower costs to the VA, as well as the burden on the veteran. Secretary Shulkin stated that in no way is this being done to reduce the benefits veterans receive, but instead is focused on improving how these earned benefits are distributed – ultimately improving the functionality of the VA. The VA has not yet released any details about the make-up of this board. ­–JG
Bottom line: Secretary Shulkin has been touting VA healthcare overhaul plans for months and this full review of veterans benefits represents another possible change within the VA. The specifics of what we could learn from this review is unclear, and no names have been released as to who will make up the advisory board. What we do know is that the median age for U.S. veterans is over 65, and Shulkin says that he wants to ensure that the benefits system is emphasizing “service-connection for disabilities, so we aren’t compensating veterans for age-related issues.” Any sweeping changes to the benefits or the application process will most likely require congressional approval. This administration’s 2018 budget mandates $108 billion in spending for veterans’ benefits. Shulkin does insist that the goal of this review is not to reduce those payouts. –CB

For the Military, a Long History of Failure to Report Crimes
Shaila Dewan and Richard A. Oppel Jr. (@shailadewan), The New York Times
The brutal murder of 26 church-goers by Devin P. Kelley, who had been dishonorably discharged by the Air Force, left the nation reeling and searching for answers this week. Among the revelations is the discovery that Kelley had been convicted of assaulting his wife and stepson while still serving in the Air Force. Had the conviction been reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is responsible for maintaining the three databases which comprise the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, Kelley would not have been eligible to purchase a gun under federal law. While state and local reporting is voluntary, federal agencies are required by law to forward criminal records to the F.B.I. As far back as 1996, the Armed Forces have earned a reputation of failing to thoroughly comply with such reporting standards, with 30 percent of convictions going unreported as recently as 2015. The failure has been criticized on both sides of the aisle, with Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, declaring the reporting failure “appalling.” –KG
Bottom line: As we seek answers in the aftermath of yet another mass-shooting, the Air Force and military at large face scrutiny over reporting processes. Despite committing a crime that would have disqualified Kelly from purchasing a weapon, there was a blatant failure to report his conviction to the federal index designed to identify individuals who should not be able to buy guns. To be clear, even if the military reporting structure had operated as it is supposed to, the so-called “gun-show loophole” could have allowed Kelly to purchase a weapon from a private seller without having background checks, so this issue isn’t just about the military’s reporting protocols. Unfortunately on the part of the Air Force, this particular situation isn’t a one-time error, as the reporting structure and process has been at the center of investigations several times before. It should not take a massive loss of innocent lives for us to comprehend why these processes and indices are key to maintaining public safety and why a broader conversation about gun policy in this country is long overdue. The truth is, we knew that Kelly was dangerous, we knew that he shouldn’t have access to a weapon and still did not take the necessary precautions to protect the public. –RB

House passes bill taking VA telehealth across states lines
Nikki Wentling (@nikkiwentling), Stars and Stripes
On Tuesday, the House passed the Veterans E-Health and Telemedicine Support Act, which will allow VA doctors to treat patients across state lines through telehealth as long as both the patient and the provider are on federal property. Harrison Weinstein, part of a post-traumatic stress disorder team in Salt Lake City, Utah, and other VA doctors across the U.S. will be able to use telehealth capabilities to treat veterans that they normally could not. –SM
Bottom line: As Congress and veterans advocates debate the future of the VA Choice program and VA healthcare, telehealth will grow increasingly important to maintaining rural and homebound veterans’ access to VA health providers. Consistently, veterans complain about the challenges to accessing VA healthcare, but most love the healthcare provided. Telehealth offers a “best of both worlds” to veterans with health issues that can be treated or managed virtually. For some veterans, telehealth may even be a preferred method of receiving mental health care. For VA, it may be the best way to triage mental health care with a finite number of clinicians on staff and a stagnant hiring pool. It’s encouraging to see Congress move on legislation that would make telehealth a more readily available option for veterans. Ensuring veterans can receive care from VA providers should be a top priority, whatever form that takes. –LJ

‘Long Road Home’ miniseries tells the ‘human story’ of deadly Iraq battle
Charlsy Panzino (@charlsypanzino), Military Times
National Geographic’s recently debuted mini-series, “The Long Road Home,” has resonated strongly with veterans, active duty service members, military family members and civilians alike. This is largely due to the show’s honesty in telling the story of each person involved in the “Black Sunday” ambush on April 4, 2004. One perspective, featured in one of Military Times’ recent reviews of the show, comes from First Cavalry Division U.S. Army veteran Eric Bourquin, who was both heavily involved in the ambush and in the filming of the show itself. –AB

Organizations focus on helping former military
Valerie Sweeten (@ValerieSweeten), Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle recently featured RallyPoint in an article about the importance of being well-informed and well-equipped while transitioning out of the military and back into civilian life. As the largest online network of military community members – 1.3 million and counting – RallyPoint offers an unrivaled opportunity for exchanging unique knowledge, advice, career opportunities and more. –AB

Why ‘The Long Road Home’ Is One Military Drama You Need to See
T.T. Robinson (@T_T_Robinson), SpouseBuzz
Thirteen years later, the April 4, 2004 ambush in Sadr City, Iraq is being shared through an eight-episode mini-series premiering on National Geographic. The Long Road Home, based on Martha Raddatz’s best-selling book, relives the 2004 ambush now referred to as “Black Sunday.” It recounts the experiences and emotions felt by the soldiers from Fort Hood’s First Cavalry Division during the ambush, along with those felt by their loved ones back on the home-front. During a recent Los Angeles screening, Raddatz said, “This is the most important story I’ve ever told.” With several of the surviving soldiers and their families serving as production consultants for the show, The Long Road Home is a genuine story that allows viewers to witness an important part of history from the soldiers and families’ perspectives. –DD

6 reasons ‘The Long Road Home’ might be the most realistic military show ever
Blake Stilwell (@blakestilwell), We are the Mighty
The good reviews for The Long Road Home keep rolling in, and most (if not all) of them seem to include one common commendation: its accuracy. Blake Stilwell lists all the ways this show achieves such an impeccable standard of storytelling in one of his latest pieces for We are the Mighty; he then also delves into the details of the “Black Sunday” battle on which this mini-series is based. –AB

We Have The Exclusive Trailer for Nat Geo’s New Docuseries ‘Chain Of Command’
James Clark (@JamesWClark), Task & Purpose
The trailer for National Geographic’s upcoming show, Chain of Command, was just aired to the general public and gives an insider look at the current Global War on Terror. The show will be set up as an eight-episode docuseries and displays the vast war that spans across several continents. From the intricate work at the Pentagon to the service members on the ground, this docuseries will give viewers an accurate look into the sacrifices that are made both here and abroad. –DD

TMP Worldwide Partners with Online Military Community, RallyPoint to Serve Veterans
PR Web
In their continuing initiative to engage in strategic partnerships that will benefit both the company itself and its nearly 1.4 million members, RallyPoint has now announced that TMP Worldwide is joining as a partner. TMP plans on amplifying RallyPoint’s assets while gaining unparalleled access to top veteran talent for their own customers in turn. –AB

This New Political Group Thinks More Veterans in Office Can Fix Congress
Maya Rhodan (@M_Rhodan), TIME
In response to the steady decline of veterans in Congress over the decades, a new political action committee named With Honor is looking to support 25-35 veterans running for public office across the political spectrum in the upcoming 2018 elections. While they have not yet endorsed any candidates, they are currently evaluating more than 100 veterans who are developing viable campaigns. Visit WithHonor.org to learn more or to find out how you can get involved. – JG
Additional Coverage: ‘Cross-Partisan’ Group, With Honor, Aims To Support Veteran Candidates For Congress Quil Lawrence (@qlawrence), NPR

Why more Veterans Should Run for Office
Rye Barcott (@RyeBarcott) and Jake Wood (@JakeWoodTR), TIME
With the general public’s trust in Congress at an all-time low, With Honor believes the solution lies in a focused effort to ensure more veterans across the political spectrum are elected up and down the ballot in 2018 elections across the country. For much of our history since the 1950s, 50 percent of Congress members had been veterans, compared to the 19 percent we have in office today. In a study conducted by the Lugar Bipartisan Center, a positive correlation was identified between a congress member’s military service and their willingness to work with their political counterparts across the aisle. With Honor believes that if we increase the number of veterans in Congress, we can break the hyper-partisan political gridlock that holds our country back from serving the needs of its citizens. –JG

At National Archives, the boss, a Vietnam vet, orders up an exhibit on the war
Michael E. Ruane (@michaelruane), The Washington Post
A new exhibit, “Remembering Vietnam,” opens Friday in the National Archives’ flagship building in Washington D.C. The motivation behind this exhibit came from 71-year-old David Ferriero who was a U.S. Navy corpsman during the Vietnam War. Ferriero is passionate about his position as an archivist and wanted to include an exhibit on Vietnam because so many of the war’s issues continue to be sensitive and unresolved. He believes it is important for everyone to hear the story from both sides. The exhibit will run through Jan. 6, 2019, and includes some of the most remarkable artifacts relating to the war. –CB

Veterans and Reservists Are Your Secret Talent Weapon. But be Careful or You May Lose Them
Heather Huhman (@heatherhuhman), Entrepreneur
Veterans, along with Reservists and National Guardsmen, are prime candidates in the civilian workforce. Many employers have discovered that these individuals make quality employees, however retaining veterans and reservists requires an understanding of their nuanced needs. Several companies have managed to figure out ways to help veterans in their workplace: Comcast NBC Universal, for example, offers active National Guard and Reserve employees paid time off for their commitments. Other companies offer resources and training to help employees translate their military skills, provide fellow veteran ‘mentors’ to help them transition to civilian life or send care packages to deployed employees every month. These extra commitments help show these veterans that their company not only understands their individual circumstances, but appreciates their service. –RS

Veterans’ health care battle becomes dispute over the details
Nikki Wentling (@nikkiwentling), Stars and Stripes
The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs considered a bill last Wednesday which would overhaul the Veterans Choice Program and implement new rules about when and where veterans can seek health care in the private sector. The bill would effectively end Choice, a temporary program created in 2014 following a scandal at the Department of Veteran Affairs that was designed to send veterans to private doctors and alleviate problems with their access to health care that eventually became, as described by veterans and lawmakers, complex and bureaucratic. The bill would also do away with a controversial rule that allows veterans to seek private-sector care only if they can’t get an appointment within 30 days or if they live more than 40 miles driving distance from a VA facility. The bill is being hotly debated and with funding for the Choice program expected to run out at the end of the year, lawmakers are running out of time to make a decision. –RS

Tradeshows & Conferences

Service Women’s Action Network: SWAN 2nd Annual Summit (Mon – Tue, November 13-14, 2017); Sidley Austin LLP, Washington, DC

Congressional Hearings

Senate:

Armed Services: Nominations – Kurta – McPherson – Maggs
Who: Mr. Anthony M. Kurta, To Be Principal Deputy Under Secretary Of Defense For Personnel And Readiness; Mr. James E. McPherson, To Be General Counsel Of The Department Of The Army; Mr. Gregory E. Maggs, To Be A Judge Of The United States Court Of Appeals For The Armed Forces
When: 10:00 AM, Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Where: G50 Dirksen

Armed Services: Nominations – Rood – Schriver
Who: Honorable John C. Rood, To Be Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; Mr. Randall G. Schriver, To Be Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Affairs
When: 10:00 AM, Thursday, November 16, 2017
Where: G50 Dirksen

House:

Veterans’ Affairs: Best Practices in Veterans Education and Transition to Civilian Life
When: 2:00 PM, Friday, November 17, 2017
Where: 104 Texas Tech University System Office Building

Other Events

New America: Moral Injury: Toward an International Perspective
Who: Michael Crow, President, Arizona State University; Brad Allenby, President’s Professor, Affiliated Faculty, Center on the Future of War, Arizona State; Andrea Ellner, Lecturer in Defence Studies, King’s College London; Tom Frame, Director, Australian Centre for the Study of Armed Conflict and Society Professor, University of New South Wales Canberra; David Wood, ASU Senior Future of War Fellow at New America Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Author, What Have We Done, The Moral Injury of Our Longest Wars; Ed Barrett, Director of Research at the U.S. Naval Academy’s Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership; William P. Nash, Director of Psychological Health, United States Marine Corps; Rosa Brooks, Senior Future of War Fellow at New America Associate Dean and Professor, Georgetown University Law Center Author, How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon
When: 8:15 AM, Monday, November 13, 2017
Where: New America, 740 15th St NW #900, Washington, D.C.

The Brookings Institution: Is there really a military readiness crisis in the United States?
Who: Mara Karlin, nonresident senior fellow and former deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and force development; Michael O’Hanlon, Senior Fellow; Timothy Hayden, U.S. Army; Kate Higgins-Bloom, U.S. Coast Guard; Daniel Keeler, U.S. Navy.
When: 10:00 AM, Monday, November 13, 2017
Where: The Brookings Institution, Falk Auditorium, 1775 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Washington, DC

The PEW Charitable Trusts: Higher Education and Veterans’ Economic Opportunity and Mobility
Who: Sarah Sattelmeyer, The Pew Charitable Trusts; Kelsey Baron, Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, U.S. House of Representatives; Barrett Bogue, Student Veterans of America; Tanya Ang, Veterans Education Success; Zachary Huitink, Institute for Veterans and Military Families, Syracuse University; Thomas Meyer, The Philanthropy Roundtable
When: 12:00 PM, Monday, November 13, 2017
Where: Cannon House Office Building, Room 340, 27 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC

The Brookings Institute: Strengthening military readiness: The role of military families in 21st century defense
Who: Cristin Orr Shiffer, senior advisor for research and policy at Blue Star Families; Anthony Kurta, Performing the Duties of Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel & Readiness; Rosalinda Vasquez Maury, Director of Applied Research and Analytics at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University; Michael O’Hanlon, Senior Fellow of Brookings; Elaine Kamarck, senior fellow and director of the Center for Effective Public Management at Brookings
When: 9:30 AM, Thursday, November 16, 2017
Where: The Brookings Institution, Falk Auditorium, 1775 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Washington, DC

Fred WellmanFred Wellman, President ScoutComms, brings us his weekly review of veteran news via The Scout Report. Fred served over twenty years as an Army officer in both aviation and public affairs. Follow Fred on Twitter @ScoutComms.

This entry was posted on Monday, November 13, 2017 1:08 pm

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