Defense & Veterans Roundup: “Crazy” Veterans Now also White Supremacists, Seventh Living MOH Recipient Announced

Posted by Fred Wellman

F-35 Engine Cost Up, Sustainment Down

Marcus Weisgerber (@marcusreports), Defense News. In a shocking revelation this past week it was announced by the F-35 program office that the cost of the most expensive weapons system ever made had jumped in 2013 instead of going down as predicted. Okay, it’s not shocking. It’s become an annual tradition that the Program’s management office announces at the beginning of the fiscal year that a new estimated life cycle cost study has found the price of the aircraft will go down in the coming year. Then sometime about eight months later there is an announcement that unfortunately the price went up because of some changes to that plan, like cutting the number of aircraft that will be purchased this year but not to worry because they have put in place new ideas to bring the price down. Lt. Gen. Bogdan’s latest big idea to bring the price down is encouraging main contractors Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney to buy spare parts in bulk from their suppliers so they are cheaper–kind of like shopping at Costco instead of Giant. Mind you the Pentagon hasn’t agreed to a full long-term deal for the aircraft and are asking the manufacturers to risk they won’t be left with thousands of spare parts beyond what they will need in the future. So, it’s all theory right now. What would $7.4 billion in F-35 costs buy elsewhere in the Pentagon? For comparison, the Pentagon wants to cut the Commissary budget by $1 billion over four years and raise Tricare fees to make up for predicted shortages in the medical insurance budget that have never occurred. When you see reports like this, it’s clear why so many military families were outraged at suggestions they need to sacrifice more in order to modernize the military and afford training. It’s hard to not be skeptical of what you’re being told when billions are regularly added and subtracted to the F-35 program like accounting errors but relatively low cost personnel benefits are being cut after twelve years of war. The military leadership must recognize the communications disconnect these two issues are creating and causing them difficulty in their efforts to convince military families to be patient and share the sacrifice needed in tight budget times. –FPW

Special Ops Troops Committing Suicide at Record Pace, McRaven Says

Howard Altman (@haltman), Tampa Tribune. Speaking at the GEOINT symposium in Tampa Bay last week, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, Adm. William McRaven, told the crowd that his force is suffering from record high suicide rates. He acknowledged that the last two years have been the highest rate of suicides in the command’s history and that this year is on pace to top even those. His forces have seen 13 years of hard combat and are poised to remain at the tip of the spear around the world even as our war in Afghanistan comes to a close. McRaven said that helping his operators and their families is his number one priority and will remain so. He has formed a special task force under his ‘Preservation of the Force and Family’ program that consists of “subject matter experts, clergy, behavioral health professionals, and service members who have experienced suicidal ideations, spouses of service members who have committed suicide, and others” to address the challenge. The fact that the issue is being openly discussed by SOCOM is a major acknowledgement of what has been a private challenge for a force that’s always suffered high deployment rates and subsequent strains on families at home. Battling the stigma of seeking help for mental health concerns is a major part of the battle for what’s essentially a hyper-focused combat culture among those who serve. We hope that the tide of battle turns soon. –FPW

Ugh, I Miss It

Eli Saslow (@EliSaslow), Washington Post. In the fifth part of the Washington Post series “After the Wars”, Eli Saslow examines the question in the Kaiser Family Foundation poll that found many veterans miss their service in Iraq and Afghanistan. Saslow follows an Army veteran of Afghanistan in Wyoming who is struggling to adjust to life after his combat tour and medical separation from the Army. While a moving and thoughtful piece, there is a growing frustration among veterans that this is now the fifth story in the series that focuses on the negative portion of every poll question to examine and expand upon. In this case, 54 percent of the veterans responded that the transition from the military had actually been ‘easy’ for them but the story takes one of the most extreme examples of adjustment problems to examine and nothing of those who haven’t had a hard time. While its understandable to focus on those struggling we believe it paints an unfair picture of how many veterans have used their experiences to lead their communities or start new businesses and non-profits and in many ways are better for their battle experiences than before. We hope that at some point the Post profiles veterans who are leading, creating jobs, serving their communities, and are generally examples of the good things that military service provides instead of the continuing look at those who struggle and appear to be in the minority even in their own poll that is the basis for this ongoing series. It seems hard to believe they can’t find examples of remarkably successful Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. We can recommend about a thousand. –FPW

Veterans Slam New York Times Piece Linking Vets to Hate Groups

Jeff Schogol (@JeffSchogol), Air Force Times. The social media universe exploded late Monday night when the New York Times posted an OpEd from a Northwestern University post-doctoral fellow. The piece used the recent shootings in Kansas City at a Jewish Community Center and retirement home by a Vietnam Veteran to extrapolate that thousands of today’s veterans are potential white supremacists. The piece was accompanied by a graphic depicting a military member giving a Nazi salute among others with a normal U.S. salute. The reaction was furious as her arguments essentially hinged on historical trends that membership in white supremacist groups went up following wars and that thousands of post-9/11 veterans are mentally damaged from their wartime experiences so it’s cause for concern that they could join supremacist organizations and turn violent. The logic leaps she makes are almost too many to count but letters and OpEds flowed all week countering the piece. The VA’s Reynaldo Leal and Tim Hudak issued a blog post with a new more realistic graphic. –FPW

Rep. Moran Flooded with Calls After Fake News Story

Kristina Wong (@kristinawong), The Hill. It’s all fun and games until someone issues a press release condemning The Duffel Blog. Actually, then it’s more fun and games for the guys behind The Duffel Blog. After last week’s priceless fake story “Lawmaker Introduces Bill Requiring Veterans To Warn Neighbors Of Their Combat Service” quoted real Congressman Jim Moran as sponsor of the bill, Moran’s office was inundated with angry calls and emails from people with poor reading comprehension skills. Moran, who is retiring and so not running for reelection, quickly issued a press release highlighting all of the bills he has sponsored on behalf of veterans. As a Duffel Blog spokesman pointed out to The Hill, nowhere does Moran hit on the real crux of the issue: the misrepresentation of veterans within the media. Rather, in true Congressional form, Moran managed to make the issue about him. Perhaps fittingly, @DuffelBlog Tweeted a response: “BREAKING: Rep. @Jim_Moran files VA claim for PTSD”. –LJ

Ten Years After His death, Pat Tillman’s Spirit Lives on in a Military Scholar Program

Mark Emmons, San Jose Mercury News. It’s hard to believe but this week marks ten years since former football star Pat Tillman was killed in action in Afghanistan by friendly fire from fellow Rangers. The inspiring story of his decision to give up a lucrative football career and join the elite Rangers inspired millions and lives on through the Tillman Military Scholars Program founded and led by his widow Marie. Today, nearly 300 active-duty military service members, veterans, and spouses have received valuable college scholarships and participated in programs to inspire them to make the world a better place. The 290 Tillman scholars have attended 85 universities and received a remarkable $4.6 million in support that is mostly raised by the annual Pat’s Run fundraising races in Tempe, Arizona and shadow runs around the world. Already some 2,600 potential scholars have applied this year and await word of the 60 who will be selected next month. You can learn more at and follow them on Twitter at @PatTillmanfnd. –FPW

Female Veterans Highlight Military Experience in Quest for Congress

Tim Mak (@timkmak), Washington Examiner. Tim talks to two female veterans running for Congress about what makes their service and their gender particularly suited for public service. Currently only two female veterans serve in Congress, both Democrats, and though these Congressional hopefuls are Republicans, they say the common bonds of the uniform and service to the nation go deeper than partisan ties. Look for a HillVets cameo, too. –LJ

Sergeant to Receive Medal of Honor for 20-hour Afghanistan Battle

Michelle Tan, Military Times. The White House announced this week that Sgt. Kyle White, a US Army veteran, will receive the Medal of Honor for his conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity during a nearly daylong battle in Afghanistan on November 8, 2007. White will be the seventh living MOH recipient from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the fourteenth from the wars overall. Michelle has an in-depth look at the firefight and Sgt. White’s actions that day, how the battle changed him, and the successful civilian he has become today. –LJ

Colorado Springs Gazette takes home Pulitzer for series on veterans

Last summer, David Phillipps revealed the shocking treatment—or lack thereof—service members and veterans were getting thanks to questionable discharges in a three-day series, “Other Than Honorable”. This week, Phillipps was rewarded for his reporting with a covetable Pulitzer Prize in national reporting. If you missed this important piece last year (though we did highlight it in the Scout Report), certainly take the time to catch up on it now. –LJ

Tradeshows & Conferences

No major tradeshows or conferences this week. View our full list of upcoming tradeshows.

Congressional Hearings

Both chambers are in recess this week, though the House VA Committee is conducting field hearings.


Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations: Construction Conundrums: A Review of Continued Delays and Cost Overruns at the Replacement Aurora, Colorado VAMC When: 9:00 AM, Tuesday, April 22, 2014 Where: Old Supreme Court Chambers State Capital Building, Room 200, Denver, CO 80203

Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations: Access to Mental Health Care and Traumatic Brain Injury Services: Addressing the Challenges and Barriers for Veterans When: 1:00 PM, Thursday, April 24, 2014 Where: R.E. Lindsey Jr. Auditorium, Southern Arizona VA Health Care System, 3601 South Sixth Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85723

Think Tanks & Other Events

Heritage Foundation: U.S. Army Aviation Restructure Initiative: A Win-Win for National Guard and Active Duty? Who: Maren Leed, Ph.D., Senior Adviser, Harold Brown Chair in Defense Policy Studies, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Benjamin Freeman, Ph.D., Policy Advisor, National Security Program, Third Way, Dr. Daniel Gouré, Vice President, Lexington Institute When: 10:30 AM, Wednesday, April 23, 2014 Where: Lerhman Auditorium, 214 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, DC, 20002-4999

VetNet: Social Media and Veterans Who: Alex Horton, student veteran, Lauren Jenkins, ScoutComms, Aubrey Arcangel, HirePurpose When: 7:30 AM, Thursday, April 24, 2014 Where: Webcast

Fred WellmanFred Wellman, President ScoutComms, brings us his weekly review of defense industry and 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, April 21, 2014 5:31 pm

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