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Defense and Veterans Roundup: The Guard and the Army Never Learned to Share

Posted by Fred Wellman

Are Veterans Getting the Money They Deserve in Latest Budget?

Stacy Kaper (@KaperSLK), National Journal. Over the past few weeks, veterans groups have made their rounds to joint House and Senate committee hearings to testify about their legislative and budget priorities. Last week, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki followed suit and laid out his agency’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year—one many lawmakers don’t think goes far enough to address the needs of America’s veterans. The Fiscal Year 2015 budget only requests an overall 6.5 percent increase in funding but back home constituents complain to their senators and representatives about wait times at VA medical centers, the backlog, overmedication of narcotics, and other pressing issues. With the wars winding down, VA is expecting to treat 100,000 new patients in the next fiscal year but only requested a 3 percent increase in its health care budget. Needless to say, Senators raised some questions. A health issue for which VA is cutting funding has also raised consternation: a 1.3 percent decrease in funding for traumatic brain injury programs is the first decrease since President Obama took office. VA officials say that’s good news because a decrease in funding means fewer troops are getting hurt and more troops are getting better. Some veterans’ advocates disagree and say it’s too early to cut funding when the full extent of how TBI will affect veterans’ health is still unknown. With budgets under even more scrutiny that usual in post-shutdown DC, it will be interesting to see how this battle plays out.

Sinclair to Plead Guilty to Lesser Charges in Army Sexual Abuse Case

David Zucchino, Los Angeles Times. BLUF: Sinclair is expected to enter a plea deal this morning that admits guilt to lesser charges than sexual assault. In a case that has many twists and turns, none were more intricate than the ones this past week that ultimately crashed the Army’s case against Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair. After the principal victim in the case was caught lying during her testimony about when she had found a phone with evidence and what she had done with the evidence and concerns about unlawful command influence arose—not to mention a lead prosecutor who withdrew from the case a few weeks ago—the Sinclair case fell apart. The judge had warned prosecutors about letting political and public scrutiny drive their case and ultimately stopped the court-martial hearing on March 10 once he determined there was unlawful command influence in the case. Sinclair will plead guilty to lesser charges and face a sentencing hearing this week. The Army is still expected to seek jail time while the defense is hoping to get retirement at the reduced rank of lieutenant colonel.

National Guard Commanders Rise In Revolt Against Active Army; MG Rossi Questions Guard Combat Role

Sydney Freedberg (@SydneyFreedberg), Breaking Defense. It’s a fight everyone expects to get ugly: Big Army versus National Guard. What seemed to start over helicopters has turned into something out of “Mean Girls”. Like all the services, the NG is facing budget cutbacks but it says the active component is making life more difficult and has “slammed their minds shut” on compromise. The Army has countered that the NG doesn’t really play the same kind of combat role that the active component does implying that perhaps it doesn’t really need the same kind of budget as the regular Army. Unsurprisingly, this did not go over well with NG leaders. With governors and Members of Congress on their side, the NG is looking forward to taking its demands to Capitol Hill where it hopes to get a better deal than inside the Pentagon. As the budget continues to shrink and the Army trims its force, finding a balance between the Army and NG will become increasingly important and more difficult.

The Uncounted

Ashley Fantz, CNN. The spouse, the parents, the teenager, the siblings. These are also the faces of military suicide in CNN’s powerful new media feature. These family members may not have served, but their loved one’s service—and sometimes ultimate sacrifice—has taken an unknown toll that has driven some to taking their life. Advocacy groups like the National Military Family Association and Blue Star Families are pressing DOD and Congress to begin formally tracking the number of family members who commit and attempt suicide. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence, Deborah Mullen says, but little hard data. While the VA’s Crisis Line handles calls from family members, it has never aggregated the data to determine if family members are calling about themselves or their loved one. Before Congress or DOD makes more resources to prevent suicide and treat mental health issues available to this vulnerable group (especially those outside of TRICARE like parents and siblings), it will need to see the stark numbers many advocates know exist.

Kurt Chew-Een Lee, Singular Marine, Dies at 88

William Yardley, New York Times. Lee is basically Captain America. He’s an American hero who defied stereotypes and discrimination to become the first Asian Marine officer and later earned the Navy Cross and Silver Star for separate acts of extraordinary heroism in Korea. That he did not earn the Medal of Honor still confounds many of his fellow Marines.

Hockey Player Josh Sweeney Among U.S. Veterans in Sochi

Kelly Whiteside, USA Today. A legacy of war and an inspiration for the next generation, but more aptly call the 18 veterans in Sochi on the US team Olympians. Thanks to a US Olympic Committee partnership with DOD and VA, wounded warriors and veterans have become a major force in adaptive sports making up 20 percent of the US Paralympic team.

Veteran’s Birthday Idea Turns Into $150,000 Gift to Comrades

Jessica Cilella, The Daily Herald. Crowdfunding the old-fashioned way: an Army veteran didn’t ask for presents at his 65th birthday, he asked his friends to donate to a local veterans’ homeless shelter. With an unexpected outpouring of gifts that could be Upworthy-worthy, the donations triggered a matching gift to equal $150,000 for homeless veterans.

Kimberly Dozier Leaving the Associated Press

For years, Dozier has covered the wars and those elite special operations forces fighting them—sometimes at very real risk to her own safety. She joined the AP in 2010 from CBS News and is now taking her SOF and intelligence beat to The Daily Beast. She told Huffington Post she plans to be a contributing writer to Noah Shachtman’s new haunt while also working on a book about SOF, the IC, and resiliency. We look forward to her ongoing insight.

Tradeshows & Conferences

2014 Precision Strike Annual Review (Tue-Wed, 18-19, March); Waterford Conference Center, Springfield, VA

View our full list of upcoming tradeshows.

Congressional Hearing

Congress: Both chambers are in recess this week.

Think Tanks & Other Events

Center for Strategic and International Studies: The Flight MAP: The Marine Aviation Plan Through 2040 Who: Brigadier General Matthew Glavy, Assistant Deputy Commandant for Aviation, United States Marine Corps When: 9:00 AM, Monday, March 17, 2014 Where: 1800 K Street NW, Washington, DC, 20009

Center for Public & Non-Profit Leadership: From Nation-Building to Community-Building: Capitalizing on the Strength of Our Veterans Here at Home Who: Dr. Debbie Bradbard, Clinical Psychologist, Deputy Director of Research and Policy, Blue Star Families, Ross Cohen, Senior Director, Hiring Our Heroes, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Ken Falke, Chairman, Boulder Crest Retreat for Military & Veteran Wellness, Jim Lorraine, President & Founder, Augusta Warrior Project When: 10:00 AM, Friday, March 21, 2014 Where: Women In Military Service For America Memorial, 1 Memorial Avenue, Arlington, VA 22211

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

This entry was posted on Monday, March 17, 2014 10:26 am

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