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Veterans Roundup: 3 Female Marines Pass Combat Endurance Test, How TAP Has Changed for the Better

Posted by Fred Wellman

Survey: 65% of Vets Likely to Leave 1st Civilian Job Within 2 Years
Leo Shane (@LeoShane), Military Times. VetAdvisor and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University released the results of their recent Veteran Job Retention survey. The report shows that employment problems for veterans are not always solved as soon as they land their first post-service job. Veteran respondents said that they changed jobs because they did not see opportunity for advancement; they felt that their work was tedious, and that their jobs did not align with their military skills. Transitioning service members need to put more focus on finding a career before leaving the service and employers should be doing more to educate recruits and retain veteran hires. –MC

Three Women Pass Marine Corps Endurance Test, Paving Way for Possible First Female Graduates of Infantry School
Dan Lamothe (@DanLamothe), The Washington Post . Last Thursday, three female Marine Corps officers successfully completed the Marine Corps endurance test at Quantico, VA, the grueling initiation to the Infantry Officer Course. IOC has been open to women on an experimental basis though only one woman had ever passed the combat endurance test previously. Female graduates of the Infantry Officer Course will still be unable to join the infantry and many critics still believe opening the infantry to women could create cohesiveness issues. –MC
Bottom line: At last week’s Military Reporters and Editors conference, an entire panel devoted to the issue of women in combat provided more of an update on the services progress towards full integration rather than a litany of reasons why it isn’t feasible. What leaders from every branch reiterated was that standards would not be lowered for combat or—especially—special operations jobs. With news that the Army will begin accepting qualified female volunteers to Ranger School in Spring 2015 (and three women have already volunteered to act as Observer-Advisors at the school), Army women will have a chance to test themselves much like female Marines are at IOC. Once women have had time to train for and physically excel at these courses, increasingly there will be demand for the branches to make headway on putting women into combat arms units. –LJ

Marine Vet’s Release from Mexican Jail Coming, Lawmakers Say
Leo Shane (@LeoShane), Military Times. At a hearing last Wednesday about efforts to free Andrew Tahmooressi, an former Marine who was arrested in Mexico on weapons charges and has been in custody since March 31, lawmakers said they are optimistic that he will be released very soon. Tahmooressi’s family says that they have heard the same hope before and will continue pushing for his release. Participants at the hearing Wednesday questioned Obama’s inaction and the lack of State Department representatives despite the fact the committee did not invite them and they heard Montel Williams give a tearful testimonial. –MC
Bottom line: This case has become a cause celebre among conservatives and a regular discussion on Fox News in spite of the fact that the circumstances of his arrest, imprisonment, and judicial process have all proven to be appropriate and fair for the charges he is accused of. For many of us it has been frustrating to watch the waves of anger associated with this case while another former Marine, Amir Hekmati, has now spent over three years unfairly imprisoned in Iran on false spying charges with little support from the same people happy to beat up on Mexico. Amir has sat with little contact at all with his family in the notorious Evin prison while Tahmooressi has been incarcerated in one of the six Mexican jails fully certified by the American Correctional Association, regular phone calls home and even time alone with his mother. We hope that Andrew is able to come home soon but we would be happier to see the same kind of passion and Montel Williams tears shed for Amir Hekmati and his family. We won’t be holding our breaths waiting for it to happen. –FPW

In Effort to End Veteran Homelessness by 2015, this $270 Million Doesn’t Hurt
Emily Wax-Thibodeaux (@emily_wax), The Washington Post. The deadline the White House has set for itself of ending veteran homelessness by 2015 is swiftly approaching. To help continue these efforts, the Obama administration announced that it has put $270 million into its homelessness programs. $62 million will go into HUD-VASH vouchers that will help more than 9,000 veterans get off of the street and $207 million will go to rapid-assistance SSVF grants helping 70,000 veterans stay off the streets and move to permanent housing. –MC
Bottom line: It’s great to see the Administration and Congress putting money towards the 2015 goal now because there is real concern that come 2016 there won’t be as much appetite for funding despite what is sure to be continued need. With nearly 58,000 veterans still homeless at last count—and tens of thousands more at risk on any given night—it’s unlikely veteran homelessness will end by 2015. Rather, the numerous service providers assisting veterans will focus on preventing further homelessness and helping those they can with fewer federal resources available. That’s why initiative’s like the IVMF’s Community of Practice are so important—they help service providers create efficiencies by providing technical training and best practices. Increasingly these collaborative models will be essential to veterans organizations fighting homelessness and beyond. –LJ

New Program Helps Families of Fallen Access Education Benefits
Karen Jowers, Military Times. Last week, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors announced a new program for the families of fallen servicemembers. The program features an online portal with information about benefits and the opportunity to receive one-on-one guidance. The program will help the families of fallen servicemembers who struggle to navigate through the scholarships and education benefits available to them. Also in TAPS news, Hillary Clinton was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award for her work with TAPS, and spent time getting to know survivor families on Wednesday in New York City. –MC
Bottom line: TAPS is one of our favorite organizations for a host of reasons and their latest efforts led by survivor Ashlynne Haycock are another important part of their work supporting survivors of fallen military members no matter the circumstances of their loss. The unique and timeless mission of TAPS has been instrumental in helping those in the toughest circumstances and education benefits for survivors vary widely by state and school. This new mission will be a significant boost to helping the children of our lost service members for years to come. –FPW

The Unintended Consequences of Hiring Veterans
Kellie Lunney (@klunney), Government Executive. A new analysis by the Merit Systems Protection Board found that the number of females hired by the federal government has decreased in recent years. Although fewer women apply to federal jobs than men, the trend may also be a result of the Veterans Employment Opportunities Act and Veteran’s Recruitment Appointment special hiring authority. Since males still dominate the military demographically, these efforts to hire veterans may actually be pushing out females from the federal workforce. –MC
Bottom line: This is a really unexpected piece on the secondary effects of the civil-military divide and another indictment of the broken federal hiring system. There is nothing inherently wrong with veteran preference or taking veterans’ sacrifices and skills into account, but the current laws could prevent even qualified veterans from getting jobs if they don’t have a disability rating. The current system, in addition to meaning a smaller number of women in the federal workforce, is also creating resentment among civilian civil servants. If the VA weren’t a big enough sign, it’s time for a change in the way the federal government does its hiring—including veterans. –LJ

From War to Work
Charles S. Clark (@cclarkjedd), Government Executive. In a recent Government Executive article, Charles Clark walked readers through the development of the revamped Transition Assistance Program. With the collaborative work of the U.S. Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Labor, Education, the SBA, and other agencies, the program has been transformed into a five-day mandatory course covering a range of topics for servicemembers who are leaving the military. 85 percent of eligible veterans attended the program last quarter and 83 percent of participants described the program as beneficial. –MC
Bottom line: The new transition program, while not perfect, is a substantial improvement over previous efforts, which varied widely in quality and content. Key to the new approach is the bringing together of diverse agencies and the talent of outside organizations like our client the Institute for Veterans and Military Families to develop the entrepreneurship track. With or without a drawdown, over 250,000 service members a year leave uniform and key to post-military success is planning for the transition into civilian life. Studies like the recent one by USC show that veterans are returning to their hometowns unprepared for finding work, healthcare, and housing. Taking transition seriously is a must for service members and allowing them to take the time to do is imperative by their leadership. –FPW

Quick Hits:

Pentagon Makes Troops in Fight Against ISIS Eligible for Medals
Kristina Wong (@kristina_wong), The Hill. Troops deployed in the fight against ISIS will be eligible for combat awards as the Pentagon will consider the mission a part of Operation Enduring Freedom for the purpose of awarding medals. This distinction allows roughly 1,700 troops to be eligible for awards, even as the Pentagon is yet to pick a cool name for the mission. –MC

Springsteen, Eminem, Rihanna to Perform at Free Veterans Day Concert in D.C.
Chris Richards (@Chris_Richards), The Washington Post. On November 11, a host of diverse music and movie stars will come together on the National Mall to perform for about 250,000 people, including special seating for military families and veterans. The event is sponsored by Starbucks and HBO. –MC

Helping Veterans Find Their Place, this Time on Campus
Jacob W. Sotak (@JWSotak), The New York Times. Very few veterans are attending Ivy League colleges and universities and less than half of one percent of Post-9/11 GI Bill money was paid for veterans to attend these top schools, though organizations like the Warrior-Scholar Project and the Posse Foundation seek to change that. Ensuring veterans break through the barriers to entry and then succeed on campus will be key to raising their presence among the elite schools. –MC

He Built a Drone, and Got the Job
Jonathan Horn, San Diego Union-Tribune. October 3rd was Manufacturing Day which companies across the country used as an opportunity to find skilled workers for often unfilled manufacturing jobs. One such success story is that of Eric Maglio, a 21-year-old Purdue graduate who landed a job with Northrup Grumman on the basis of his engineering skills which he showed by bringing the flying scale replica he built of a Northrup UAV to a job fair. –LJ 

Tradeshows & Conferences

No major tradeshows or conferences this week. AUSA begins next Monday.

For a full list of upcoming events, check out our recently updated Events page.

Congressional Hearings

Both chambers are in recess.

Think Tanks & Other Events

Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies: Rebuilding American defense: A speech by Governor Bobby Jindal Who: Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana When: 11:00 AM, Monday, October 6, 2014 Where: 1150 Seventeenth St, NW, Washington, DC

National Veterans Center: Stress Relief Meditation for Veterans When: 5:00 PM, Monday, October 6, 2014 Where: The National Veterans Center, 2013 H Street NW, Washington, DC

International Institute for Strategic Studies: The New Landscape of European Security with Assistant Secretary of Defense Derek Chollet Who: Derek Chollet, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs When: 10:00 AM, Wednesday, October 8, 2014 Where: 2121 K Street, NW, Suite 801, Washington, DC

The Center for a New American Security: The Invisible Front: Love and Loss in an era of Endless War Who: Yochi Dreazen, Author, The Invisible Front: Love and Loss in an era of Endless War, Managing Editor, Foreign Policy, Former Writer-in-Residence, Center for a New American Security, Major Garrett, Chief White House Correspondent, CBS News, When: 5:00 PM, Thursday, October 9, 2014 Where: Willard InterContinental Hotel 1401 Pennsylvania 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, October 06, 2014 3:02 pm

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