Defense & Veterans Roundup: Women Entrepreneurs on the Battlefield and in the Board Room, Changes Coming for Commissaries

Posted by Fred Wellman

A Legacy of Pride and Pain

Rajiv Chandrasekaran (@rajivwashpost), Washington Post. The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a poll of 819 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to gauge their views on their military service and the issues they are wrestling with today. It’s proven to be a very revealing poll and will be turned into a multi-part series of stories and multimedia products for the Post. The first story examines the general feelings and issues that today’s veterans have towards their service and their transitions home. The amount of good information in this story demands you’ll have to read it for yourself but some key points show that the over half still yearn for the time they spent in combat and 90% believe they did good things during their time overseas and prefer talking to other vets about their experiences versus civilians. This is a must read if you want to understand today’s veterans. By far the most important take away is that while they are dealing with challenges unique to modern war, they are proud of their service and would do it again. Greg Jaffe has the next piece in the series on Wednesday focusing on employment and job issues.

Tight Budget May Force Involuntary Separations

Gary Sheftick, Army News Service. It was hearings week on the Hill for the various service component personnel and budget officials and the news continues to be dire. Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. John Campbell told the Senate Armed Services Committee that natural attrition won’t be enough if predicted cuts are needed in future years to get the Army all the way down to the 420,000 soldiers the service has estimated it can afford. He expects that there will need to be about 5,000 involuntary separations over the next three years to get the active force down to 450,000 and a troubling 35,000 forced out if the Army has to go down to 420,000. It will become very tough to re-enlist for enlisted soldiers and officers won’t get third chances when they are passed over for promotion going forward. Of course, there are always those second and third order effects we love pointing out in all of these plans. When soldiers leave the service they are authorized unemployment pay, of which the Army pays over $500 million a year now and will face more with increased drawdowns. All in all the Army is making it clear to Congress that continued cuts will result in more unemployed veterans.

DoD to Look at Consolidating Commissaries, Exchanges

Karen Jowers, Military Times. Military Times has the scoop on a directive from acting deputy secretary of defense Christine Fox for the Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation Office to review options for the future of the Commissary system. The 2015 budget request plans on cutting the subsidy, which funds the on-base grocery store system over the next three years by a billion dollars. This will essentially cut the average savings for military shoppers from 30% to 10% against civilian market prices. While the leadership has denied that they plan on closing any commissaries outright, they have admitted that when the subsidy is cut and prices go up the stores may end up closing as some customers stop shopping there. One option that has popped up often is consolidating the commissaries with the base exchanges which are run like commercial entities. That is precisely the idea that Fox is asking to be investigated and notes that there will need to be changes in law from Congress that will allow them to raise prices rather than sell goods at cost and allow the stores to sell generic products instead of only name-brand goods as they do currently. The Army and Air Force Exchange Service submitted a proposal March 17 to consolidate the best leaders from the two systems and bring them together and achieve the cost savings the DoD is looking for by creating efficiencies rather than raising prices. In the end Congress will get the final vote on all of this since the Commissary system is driven by statute and we’re a long way from them authorizing the changes DoD desires.

‘Enlisted’ Knew it Needed to Enlist Help to Get Military Comedy Right

Saba Hamedy, Los Angeles Times. Kevin Biegel and Mike Royce decided they wanted to make a military themed “workplace” comedy back in 2012 and it was an unusual choice since there hasn’t been one on TV since MASH wrapped in the early ‘80s. Fox picked it up but the military community they had hoped to attract in the first place was horrified by the pilot episode. Everything from uniforms being wrong, hair being too long, and military lingo was so far off that the community reacted with anger. In response, they hired our friend and former Army public affairs officer Greg Bishop and Musa Military Entertainment to join the team and help get things right. Bishop and his team quickly got the basics right and sent the actors off to Ft. Bliss for a mini-boot camp to help them understand military life. When the show was picked up for a season run the producers encouraged military members to watch the pilot again and point out all the things they got wrong as a contest and encourage them to come back for the second episode to see how things had improved. The show has improved and is picking up a following and loyal fans as it does a great job of getting the offbeat humor mixed with some real heart about the life of a soldier that appeals to many in the military and veterans community. The show is struggling with a terrible Friday night time slot that even drove the editors of Army Times to write an editorial asking Fox to give the show a better time slot and bring it back for another season. We are hooked and hope you’ll give it a chance. (Editor’s Note: FOX has put “Enlisted” on TDY for an indeterminate length of time, but assures fans it will return.)

Women Veterans Embracing Entrepreneurship, Going Back to Bootcamp to Start Businesses

John Grady, ScoutComms. Kristina Guerrero and Lisa Belcastro exemplify the wave of female entrepreneurs taking their careers into their own hands. The planning and execution skills they learned the military serve them well in the world of small business, but learning the business basics was the first step. That’s where programs like IVMF’s Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship come in. V-WISE helps women veterans and military spouses navigate the intricacies and necessities of starting their own business or non-profit. John Grady looks at this trend of female veteran entrepreneurs for the Scout Report.

Marine Battled Back, Yet Fell to Suicide

Gretel C. Kovach (@gckovach), San Diego Union-Tribune. Gilliam Farrell was a stronger young man than most. He volunteered to be a Marine infantryman during a time of war, opted for an Afghanistan assignment, and fought in Sangin during one of the bloodiest periods of the war. In January 2011, his strength was tested as an IED tore off both of his legs, half of his abdominal muscles, and part of his arm bone. His family saw an injured young man, but not a broken one. Gilliam recovered, learned his way around in a wheelchair, and even started taking online college classes at Arizona State. He showed few signs of an internal struggle. But on January 9, three years after the moment that changed his life, Gilliam ended his life with a single gunshot in a barracks room at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. His friends and family now struggle with the grief and anger of this loss. Gilliam seemed to be doing well, so well that he never received any psychological care in the last two years. His family worries he suffered from invisible wounds that were hidden from even them. Gilliam’s life and death are reminders that we can never stop asking what more can be done to provide for the well-being of our service members and veterans. From the article: “Gilliam finally succumbed to his battle wounds, said Sgt. James Finney, his former squad leader in Afghanistan. It doesn’t matter who pulled the trigger — to him Gilliam was killed in action just like the other 25 from their battalion.”

Using Flags to Focus on Veteran Suicides

Jada F. Smith, The New York Times. Last week, 30 members of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and countless volunteers placed a small American flag in the National Mall to represent every veteran who has committed suicide in 2014. Based on the VA estimate that 22 veterans per day take their lives, 1,892 flags fluttered beneath the Capitol dome as a memorial. It was a culmination of IAVA’s legislative lobbying week “Storm the Hill” which this year focused on combating suicide among service members and veterans. The first Iraq war veteran to become a senator, the recently appointed Sen. Jack Walsh (D-MT), introduced a bill based on IAVA’s recommendations that would extend free VA health care coverage to combat veterans from the current 5 years to 15 years. The bill would also allow VA to pay the student loan debt of psychiatrists—a big recruiting tool—and would require discharge reviews for troops separated for mental health issues. Walsh being a freshman senator with a special election on the horizon means this bill is unlikely to move forward in this Congress, but expect IAVA to continue making mental health a priority message.

Female Soldiers in Fort Bragg’s Artillery Units Paving Way for Expanded Role

Drew Brooks (@DrewBrooks), Fayetteville Observer. From groundbreaking to looking cool, women in newly opened field artillery positions at Ft. Bragg are finding they’re just like the rest of the guys. While the Army opened up about 3,500 field artillery positions to women earlier this month, the 18th Fires Brigade began integrating women in June. The brigade said it is leading the way among integration efforts in order to help the Army test the possible further expansion of women into the combat arms. The women in the brigade said they haven’t noticed being treated any differently and feel accepted by the fires community (unsurprisingly!) We’re looking forward to more stories like this as women take positions closer to the tip of the spear.

Some good news:

Couple Dedicates Their Time And Energy To Helping Veterans

M.A.C. Lynch, Hartford Courant. Perhaps volunteering and serving veterans is the secret to a long and fulfilled life. It is at least for one couple, Joanne and Jerry. They met shortly after Jerry’s return from Vietnam and as their family grew, so did their participation in the local VFW. From there their volunteerism expanded and today, more than 45 years later, they still support veterans in need at Stand Downs for homeless veterans and other local events. “Any time we do anything for the veterans, it’s the best mitzvah, something that you do that’s more than a good deed. You do it with no possible return,” Jerry says, but “for the feeling inside that this is what we exist for.”

Home Depot Group Hits 10K Mark for Veterans Project

Associated Press. The Home Depot Foundation has committed $80 million over five years to ensure every veteran has a safe place to call home. Beyond dollars, that means they have renovated or rehabilitated the homes of 10,000 veterans or the families over the last three years. With coming cuts in benefits and personnel, the foundation plans to stay committed to helping veterans meet their housing needs.

Tradeshows & Conferences

No major tradeshows or conferences this week.

View our full list of upcoming tradeshows.

Congressional Hearings

Congress: Both chambers in session this week.


Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations: VA & Human Tissue: Improvements Needed for Veterans Safety When: 10:00 AM, Wednesday, April 2, 2014 Where: 334 Cannon

Armed Services: The Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Budget Requests from U.S. European Command, U.S. Forces Korea, and U.S. Strategic Command Who: General Philip M. Breedlove, USAF, Commander, U.S. European Command, Admiral Cecil D. Haney, USN, Commander, U.S. Strategic Command, General Curtis M. Scaparrotti, USA, Commander, U.S. Forces Korea When: 10:00 AM, Wednesday, April 2, 2014 Where: 2118 Rayburn

Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense: Defense Health Program Who: Dr. Jonathan Woodson, Assistant Secretary of Defense, Health Affairs, Lieutenant General Patricia D. Horoho, Surgeon General, United States Army, Vice Admiral Matthew L. Nathan, Surgeon General, United States Navy, Lieutenant General Dr. Thomas W. Travis, Surgeon General, United States Air Force When: 1:30 PM, Wednesday, April 2, 2014 Where: 2359 Rayburn

Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces: Fiscal Year 2015 Ground Force Modernization Programs Who: Lieutenant General James O. Barclay III, USA, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army, G8, Department of the Army, Mr. Tom Dee, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Expeditionary Programs and Logistics Management, Department of the Navy, Lieutenant General Glenn M. Walters, USA, Deputy Commandant for Programs and Resources, Department of the Navy, Major General Michael E. Williamson, USA, Military Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology), Department of the Army When: 2:00 PM, Wednesday, April 2, 2014 Where: 2212 Rayburn

Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Froces: Air Force Projection Forces Aviation Programs and Capabilities related to the 2015 President’s Budget Request Who: Major General James J. Jones, USAF, Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Plans and Requirements, United States Air Force, Dr. William A. LaPlante, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Department of the Air Force, Major General John F. Thompson, USAF, Air Force Program Executive Officer for Tankers, Tanker Directorate, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, United States Air Force When: 3:30 PM, Wednesday, April 2, 2014 Where: 2118 Rayburn

Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security: Afghanistan: Identifying and Addressing Wasteful U.S. Government Spending When: 10:00 AM, Thursday, April 3, 2014 Where: 2247 Rayburn

Armed Services: Hearing on the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review Who: Admiral James A. “Sandy” Winnefeld, Jr., USN, Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Department of Defense, Ms. Christine E. Wormuth, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans and Force Development, U.S. Department of Defense When: 10:00 AM, Thursday, April 3, 2014 Where: 2118 Rayburn

Veterans Affairs: Trials and Transparency II: Is VA Responding to Congressional Requests in a Timely Manner? When: 10:00 AM, Thursday, April 3, 2014 Where: 334 Cannon

Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense: National Guard and United States Army Reserve Who: General Frank J. Grass, Chief, National Guard Bureau, Lieutenant General Stanley E. Clarke III, Director, Air National Guard, Major General Judd H. Lyons, Acting Director, Army National Guard, Lieutenant General Jeffrey W. Talley, Chief, United States Army Reserve When: 1:30 PM, Thursday, April 3, 2014 Where: H-140 Capitol

Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense: Member Hearing Day When: 9:00 AM, Friday, April 4, 2014 Where: H-140 Capitol


Armed Services: U.S. European Command and U.S. Transportation Command Who: General Philip M. Breedlove, USAF, Commander, U.S. European Command/ Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General William M. Fraser III, USAF, Commander, U.S. Transportation Command When: 9:30 AM, Tuesday, April 1, 2014 Where: G-50 Dirksen

Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support: Military Construction, Environmental, Energy, and Base Closure Programs Who: Mr. John C. Conger, Acting Deputy Under Secretary Of Defense Installations And Environment, Honorable Sharon E. Burke, Assistant Secretary Of Defense, Operational Energy Plans And Programs, Honorable Katherine G. Hammack, Assistant Secretary Of The Army Installations, Energy And Environment, Honorable Dennis V. McGinn, Assistant Secretary Of The Navy Energy, Installations And Environment, Ms. Kathleen I. Ferguson, Acting Assistant Secretary Of The Air Force Installations, Environment And Logistics When: 9:30 AM, Wednesday, April 2, 2014 Where: 232-A Russell

Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower: Modernization of the Marines Who: General John M. Paxton, Jr., USMC, Assistant Commandant, United States Marine Corps, Lieutenant General Kenneth J. Glueck, Jr., USMC, Deputy Commandant, Combat Development And Integration/ Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, United States Marine Corps When: 9:30 AM, Wednesday, April 2, 2014 Where: 222 Russell

Armed Services Subcommittee on Airland: Tactical Aircraft Programs Who: Lieutenant General Christopher C. Bogdan, USAF, Program Executive Officer, F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office, Lieutenant General Charles R. Davis, USAF, Military Deputy To The Assistant Secretary Of The Air Force For Acquisition, Vice Admiral Paul A. Grosklags, USN, Principal Military Deputy To The Assistant Secretary Of The Navy For Research, Development, and Acquisition, Lieutenant General Robert E. Schmidle, Jr., USMC, Deputy Commandant For Aviation When: 9:30 AM, Wednesday, April 2, 2014 Where: 562 Dirksen

Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense: The Department of the Air Force Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request Who: Deborah Lee James, Secretary, U.S. Air Force, General Mark A. Welsh III, Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force, General Frank J. Grass, Chief, National Guard Bureau, Lieutenant General Stanley E. Clarke III, Director, Air National Guard, Lieutenant General James F. Jackson, Chief, Air Force Reserve When: 10:00 AM, Wednesday, April 2, 2014 Where: 106 Dirksen

Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs: The Department of the Air Force Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request Who: The Honorable Mike McCord, Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), Department of Defense, Mr. John Conger, Acting Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, Installations & Environment, Department of Defense, The Honorable Katherine Hammack, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy, & Environment, United States Army, Major General Al Aycock, Director of Operations, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management, United States Army, Brigadier General Michael Bobeck, Special Assistant to the Director, United States Army National Guard, Mr. James Balocki, Command Executive Officer, United States Army Reserve When: 3:00 PM, Wednesday, April 2, 2014 Where: 124 Dirksen

Armed Services: Posture of the Army Who: Honorable John M. McHugh, Secretary Of The Army, General Raymond T. Odierno, USA, Chief Of Staff Of The Army When: 9:30 AM, Thursday, April 3, 2014 Where: G50 Dirksen

Think Tanks & Other Events

The Atlantic Council: Budgets & the Future of America’s Defense Industry Who: The Hon. Mark Warner, Senator (D-VA), The Hon. Jon M. Huntsman Jr., Chairman, Atlantic Council, MajGen Arnold Punaro, USMC (Ret.), Chairman, National Defense Industrial Association When: 8:30 AM, Tuesday, April 1, 2014 Where: 1030 15th Street, NW, 12th Floor, Washington, DC

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. Follow Fred on Twitter @ScoutComms.

This entry was posted on Monday, March 31, 2014 8:36 am

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