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Defense & Veterans Roundup: VA Releases Results of Internal Audit, IVMF and SBA Expand Entrepreneurship Training

Posted by Fred Wellman

The Military’s Mental Health Epidemic Is Being Made Worse By The VA

Juan Carlos Llorca, Associated Press. The VA health care delay scandal doesn’t discriminate when it comes to physical or mental health care. New mental health patients are supposed to be able to see a doctor within 14 days, but the recent VA audit found none of its 141 parent medical facilities could meet that goal. While physical conditions may appear to be critical, mental health crises may not get the same urgency. Long waits can have a particularly insidious effect on veterans seeking mental health care to include increasing a sense of hopelessness and isolation. Long wait times between appointments also makes it harder for a patient to develop a connection with their psychiatrist. For veterans and families, this lack of mental health care can have a devastating effect. While demand has risen from 900,000 veterans seeking mental health care in 2006 to 1.4 million seeking the same in 2013, VA touts it has hired 1,600 new clinicians to handle the surge in patients. At too many VA medical centers, wait times are 20-40 days for mental health appointments. Like with the overall health care wait times, there simply aren’t enough doctors to treat patients. VA must look at ways to improve the productivity of doctors so they can see more patients. –LJ

A Veteran’s Best Friend

Brandon Dumsky, The Examiner (Independence, MO). One of the things we are starting to see a lot of here at ScoutComms is a rising number of veterans receiving charitable gifts with questionable credentials. This article from Independence, Missouri caught our attention as it tells the tale of a young former Marine who has been given a PTSD service dog from an organization that does not normally support veterans. What caught our attention is that the reporter writes that the recipient is a former Marine Lance Corporal with a whopping six combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, four Purple Hearts and the bizarre claim of having been a Prisoner of War in both theaters. The most glaring factual error is that there have never been a single Marine POW in either war and there has certainly never been a POW of both. It is also highly unlikely that he did six deployments with the Marines and left as a Lance Corporal which is comparable to a Private First Class in the Army. Six deployments would have covered at least six to seven years of service and a typical Marine would be long past E3 with that much time in service. It’s highly likely this young man’s story will prove to be at least partially false and the non-profit will suffer reputational damage and embarrassment for having been duped. We can’t emphasize enough how important it is for anyone supporting veterans to check their background. Any real veteran will have no problem providing a DD214 and other papers to prove their credentials and eligibility for your generosity. There is absolutely nothing wrong with questioning those credentials when giving a veteran something. Don’t ever believe for one second if a veteran tells you that he can’t show you his records or they don’t match his story because he was on a “secret mission” or other such nonsense. You have every right to deny someone a gift if they can’t prove they are eligible. Save yourself some very serious reputational damage and pain by asking hard questions. This case may prove to be a poorly written article by the journalist perhaps but even worse it may prove to be a “stolen valor” case and the newspaper and non-profit will all be hurt for lack of a little bit of work on Google and asking for proof from the veteran. –FPW

Vets Bring A ‘Level Of Selflessness’ To Service In Congress

Scott Simon, NPR. The number of veterans in Congress has dropped to 1 in 5, down from 3 in 4 in the post-WWII era. Seth Lynn and his Veterans Campaign housed at George Washington University are seeking to change that. The bipartisan Veterans Campaign helps train veterans for “second service” as elected officials—from campaign strategy to fundraising basics. Of course veterans bring a unique perspective on foreign policy, the Defense Department, and veterans issues, but Lynn says his group isn’t focused on a specific issue. Instead, the focus is on promoting continued selfless service in the public sector. Some pitfalls Lynn sees veterans falling into: being the sacrificial lamb in an election their party knows they will lose because the party wants to look closer to the military and leading with their military record instead of focusing on the issues the electorate cares about. In the last few elections, more than 190 major party candidates for Congress, in both primaries and the general election, have been veterans and Lynn is hoping to increase that number. –LJ

Beer Company Helps to Battle Veteran Unemployment

Emily Davies and Desiree Fischer, WSAW.com. Chicago-based Veteran Beer Company is a company on a mission to make great beer and help veterans in the process. Organized like ScoutComms as a Benefit Corporation the veteran owned company aims to help vets by hiring them and donating 10% of their profits to non-profits supporting the vet community. They are part of a growing B Corp movement that aims to use for-profit approaches to helping solve the challenges faced by the veteran’s community. The beer company is expanding its markets since their launch last November in Illinois and Indiana with their two main lines available now in Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and soon in Michigan. –FPW

Audit Shows Extensive Medical Delays for Tens of Thousands of Veterans

Richard Oppel Jr., The New York Times. Last Monday, the VA released the results of its internal audit of wait times associated with its health care system. More than 57,000 veterans have been waiting more than three months for appointments at VA facilities and more than 64,000 veterans are not even on the waiting list despite requests for appointments. The audit revealed the entrenched, systemic nature of gaming the scheduling system to meet the 14-days or less standard: 76 percent of VA facilities reported at least one instance of data manipulation. Many VA employees complained that the 14-day waiting period was unattainable due to lack of adequate medical staff but because bonuses depended on meeting that standard, many managers required deception. Along with announcing the results of the audit, Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson said the VA is dropping the 14-day standard from employee performance incentives. Gibson also announced that the VA will introduce patient satisfaction surveys and will prioritize hiring doctors and nurses to ease the patient burden on current health systems. Twice a month, VHA will also release updated wait time data much as VBA does on backlogged claims numbers. –LJ

Senate Overwhelmingly Passes VA Bill as FBI Opens Criminal Investigation

Josh Hicks (@Reporter_Josh) and Greg Jaffe (@GregJaffe), The Washington Post. After a last minute compromise last week between Sens. Sanders and McCain on their competing VA reform bills, the Senate took the measure to the floor for a vote. Bipartisanship won the day in a 93-2 vote in favor of the odd couple’s reforms. The bill makes it easier for veterans to seek private medical care when they have been waiting extremely long at VA and also shifts $500 million dollars in the budget to hire medical staff. The bill moves to the House where Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House VA Committee, says he wants to pass something very quickly—but not without leaving his own mark on it. Meanwhile, the Phoenix FBI field office is responding to a Justice Department request to launch a criminal investigation into misdeeds at the Phoenix VA Health Care System. Details are scant, but FBI investigators will work with federal prosecutors to determine if criminal charges should be filed. –LJ

Job Envy: From Petraeus Staff Officer To CEO And Founder Of A Communications Firm

Brian Adam Jones, Task and Purpose. There are a lot of reasons to envy Fred: West Point education, Harvard grad, amazing family, beautiful wife, steely blue eyes—but most acutely for veterans thinking about their careers, it’s his job as entrepreneur and CEO that might draw the biggest flares of jealousy. Wunderkind blogger Brian at Task and Purpose sat down with Fred to discover how the lessons Fred has learned as an entrepreneur may be applied by veterans transitioning out of the military now and in the future.

Tradeshows & Conferences

Veteran Entrepreneur Training Symposium (Mon-Thurs, 16-19 June); Silver Legacy Hotel, Reno, NV

View our full list of upcoming tradeshows.

Congressional Hearings

Both chambers are in session this week.

House:

Veterans Affairs: Hearing: Non-VA Care: An Integrated Solution for Veteran Access When: 10:15 AM, Wednesday, June 18, 2014 Where: 334 Cannon

Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade and Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa: The Bergdahl Exchange: Implications for U.S. National Security and the fight against terrorism Who: Mr. Mike Waltz, Senior National Security Fellow, New America Foundation, Commanded a Special Forces’ Company in Eastern Afghanistan in 2009, Spc. Cody Full, USA (Ret.), served with Sgt. Bergdahl in Blackfoot Company, Second Platoon, Mr. Andy Andrews, father of deceased Second Lieutenant, USA, Darryn Andrews When: 2:00 PM, Wednesday, June 18, 2014 Where: 2172 Rayburn

Veterans Affairs: Review of Awarding Bonuses to Senior Executives at the Department of Veterans Affairs When: 9:00 AM, Friday, June 20, 2014 Where: 334 Cannon

Senate:

Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense: FY15 Department of Defense Budget Hearing Who: The Honorable Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense, General Martin Dempsey, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff When: 10:00 AM, Wednesday, June 18, 2014 Where: 192 Dirksen

Think Tanks & Other Events

National Veterans Center: Stress Relief Meditation for Veterans When: 5:00 PM, Monday, June 16, 2014 Where: The National Veterans Center, 2013 H Street NW, Washington, DC

AdvaMed: Innovation in Veterans’ Care: Medical Technology & Diagnostics for the Battlefield and Beyond Who: The Honorable Adam Kinzinger, R-IL, Dr. Jackie Maffucci, Research Director, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of American, U.S. Army Sgt. Justin Minyard (Ret.), Dr. Adrianne P.S. Smith, Medical Director, BioD, LLC; Former. Medical Director, Emergency Department, US Air Force When: 12:00 PM, Wednesday, June 18, 2014 Where: 2168 Rayburn

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, June 16, 2014 2:10 pm

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