Veterans Roundup: Army Awards Medal of Heroism, Shulkin to Purge VA, New York Soldier Honored and More

Posted by Fred Wellman

Army awards Medal of Heroism to 3 cadets killed in high school shooting
Elizabeth McLaughlin (@Elizabeth_McLau), ABC News
Among the 17 people killed in the Parkland, Florida school shooting were three JROTC students. U.S. Army Cadet Command is awarding the Medal of Heroism to the three cadets who sacrificed their lives in acts of heroism: Peter Wang, Alania Petty and Martin Duque. The three cadets were awarded the medals at their funerals and their families have been provided with a “keepsake” medal. Peter Wang was last seen pointing to an open door for others to escape before he was hit by the gunman, Nikolas Cruz. It was Wang’s dream to attend the U.S. Military Academy and West Point sent a posthumous acceptance to the Class of 2025 to Wang and his family for his heroic actions. –SM
Bottom line: It has been an absolutely heartbreaking and insane couple of weeks in the United States since the deaths of 17 students and teachers in Parkland, Florida. Amidst the horror stories about that terrible event, stories of heroism by those who lost their lives emerged including a teacher who covered students with his body and Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps members who helped classmates escape but fell in the hail of bullets. The Army acted quickly to award the cadets with ROTC Medals of Heroism and give them military honors at their funerals. When word reached West Point that Peter Wang had dreamed of attending, they put together a formal posthumous acceptance packet to the prestigious military college. Wang will now forever be a member of the Class of 2025 and his family accorded inclusion in the network of camaraderie and respect given to alumni. It was a classy move and something these students all deserved. –FPW

Shulkin says he has White House backing to purge VA
Arthur Allen (@ArthurAllen202), POLITICO
After receiving support from the White House, VA Secretary David Shulkin will begin investigating those who have undermined his authority during his tenure. After a report stated his chief of staff Vivieca Wright Simpson distorted an email regarding VA expenses, she retired from her position and Peter O’Rourke will fill that role. O’Rourke will host both one-on-one and group meetings with staff members at VA who have challenged Shulkin by disobeying his leadership and acting without his approval. Most recently, Shulkin’s spokesman deleted a release that Shulkin shared to the VA website. Shulkin has gone so far as to suggest that he anticipates some staff members will be asked to leave the VA. –DD
Bottom line: The recent addition of Peter O’Rourke as chief of staff has created an opportunity for Secretary Shulkin and the VA to not only move past the IG investigation that has plagued them recently, but also allows them to pivot and change the narrative. Additionally, this positions them to purge from the VA anyone they may deem a political foe, under the guise of investigating subversion and doubling down on the administration’s agenda. As the author and Secretary Shulkin point out, it is not simple to fire a political appointee, but as Shulkin added, “I don’t think everybody’s going to remain at the VA.” Veteran service organizations continue to line up behind Shulkin and the president, through intermediaries, seems to be tepidly backing the secretary. Shulkin can’t afford another public relations hit right now, so he will certainly need supporters within and outside the VA. –CB

‘An Endless War’: Why 4 U.S. Soldiers Died in a Remote African Desert
Rukmini Callimachi (@RCallimachi), Helene Cooper (@HeleneCooper), Eric Schmitt (@EricSchmittNYT), Alan Blinder (@AlanBlinder) and Thomas Gibbons-Neff (@TMGNeff), The New York Times
By analyzing helmet camera footage and detailed accounts of the events that led to the death of four American soldiers killed in Niger, this article dissects the political nuance of the conversation our country needs to have around what military combat deployments look like in 2018. Few Americans, and even some members of Congress, do not know the extent to which our military operates around the world, and what missions they conduct. While the Pentagon declined to comment on the article, since the investigation is still underway, many members of Congress from both parties have voiced the need for more transparency regarding high-risk military activity overseas. –JG
Bottom line: This exceptional piece of reporting takes a hard look at the human calculus of the continuing war on violent extremism around the globe. After the highly-publicized deaths of four U.S. soldiers in October, many members of the public and elected officials alike began to question the liberal justification for deployments of service members. Many questioned why we even had a troop presence in Niger and whether it was time to reexamine the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). Frustration over these “never-ending” conflicts and the continued loss of American lives is driving a desire from many to require a higher-level of transparency into strategy to eliminate extremism. Loss of life is an unfortunate but inevitable reality of war, but as this war crawls toward two decades of existence, a clearer strategy as to how we will “win” is still not something most Americans believe our government truly knows. This battle is complicated and without a clear solution, but that should never stop us from asking the tough questions about how we fight battles in the 21st century. Continued scrutiny is necessary for us to learn and grow, so that hopefully one day a more peaceful world is within our reach. –RB

[Podcast] #86 Steven Weintraub – Marine Veteran, Chief Strategy Officer for Vet Tix
Timothy Lawson (@TimLawson21), VAntage Point
Steven Weintraub, Chief Strategy Officer of Vet Tix, recently sat down with Timothy Lawson at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to discuss the path that led him to military service, his role in the nonprofit Vet Tix and how other military members can get involved. Vet Tix originated at Super Bowl XLII 10 years ago when the current CEO noticed empty seats around him. Today, the organization distributes tickets to a host of entertainment events to deserving men and women veterans, currently serving military of all branches, military families and caregivers of veterans. –DD

New York soldier killed in fire rescue honored with 2 valor awards
Chad Garland (@chadgarland), Stars and Stripes
Twelve people perished in a brutal apartment fire in New York City in December. Pfc. Emmanuel Mensah was among those, but before he died, he managed to save four lives. The young soldier was honored this past week with the Soldier’s Medal, the Army’s highest award for valor outside of combat, and with the New York State Medal for Valor. In 2012, Mensah immigrated from Ghana and quickly sought to join the service; his father said, “He was proud of being (in) the American military. He was so proud of that.” –KG

Trump nominates former Army captain as new top benefits official for VA
Leo Shane (@LeoShane), Military Times
Army veteran Paul Lawrence has been tapped by President Trump to serve as the head of the Veterans Benefits Administration. If confirmed, Lawrence, a current VP at Kaiser Associates, will be responsible for nearly 30,000 employees tasked with handling disability pay and educational funding among other areas. –JG

Congressional Hearings

Armed Services: Terrorism and Iran: Defense Challenges in the Middle East
Who: General Joseph L. Votel, Commander, US Central Command
When: 10:00 AM, Tuesday, February 27, 2018
Where: 2118 Rayburn

Armed Services: United States Cyber Command
Who: Admiral Michael S. Rogers, USN, Commander, United States Cyber Command / Director, National Security Agency/Chief, Central Security Services
When: 9:30 AM, Tuesday, February 27, 2018
Where: 216 Hart

Veterans’ Affairs: Legislative Presentation of the Disabled American Veterans
Who: Delphine Metcalf-Foster, National Commander; Jim Marszalek, National Service Director; Joy J. Ilem, National Legislative Director; Garry J. Augustine, Executive Director, Washington Headquarters; J. Marc Burgess, National Adjutant; Barry A. Jesinoski, Executive Director, National Headquarters; John Kleindienst, National Director of Voluntary Service; Jeffrey C. Hall, National Director of Employment; William Johniken, DAV Auxiliary National Commander
When: 2:00 PM, Tuesday, February 27, 2018
Where: G50 Dirksen

Veterans’ Affairs: Legislative Presentation of The American Legion
Who: Denise H. Rohan, National Commander; Paul Dillard, Chairman, National Legislative Commission; Ralph Bozella, Chairman, National Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Commission; Matthew Shuman, Director, National Legislative Division; Louis Celli, Jr., Director, National Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Division; Randall Fisher, Chairman, Veterans Employment & Education Commission; Joseph Sharpe, Director, Veterans Employment & Education Division
When: 10:00 AM, Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Where: G50 Dirksen


Disabled American Veterans: 2018 Mid-Winter Conference (Sun – Wed, February 25-28, 2018); Crystal Gateway Marriott, Arlington, VA

Community Opportunities 

Veterans in Global Leadership: Apply to be a 2018-2019 VGL Fellow
Who: Student veteran candidates with a passion for service, a commitment to assist other veterans, an entrepreneurial spirit and proven leadership skills.
When: Application deadline is April 30, 2018

Pat Tillman Foundation: Apply to be a Tillman Scholar
Who: Veteran and active-duty military service members; current spouses of veterans or active-duty service members, including surviving spouses; service members or spouses pursuing a degree as a full-time student.
When: Application deadline is March 1, 2018

High Ground Veterans Advocacy: Apply to be a Fellow
Who: Anyone who served in the U.S. military and is an active member of a reputable military or veteran-focused organization.
When: Application deadline is March 4, 2018

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, February 26, 2018 11:37 am

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