Veterans Roundup: Army Recruiting Woes, a Veteran Charity Under Scrutiny, and Who Is Targeting Veterans in the Midterms

Posted by Fred Wellman

Army targets young Americans in new ways for recruiting
Corey Dickstein (@CDicksteinDC), Stars and Stripes
After failing to meet its recruiting goal for the first time since 2005, the U.S. Army is beginning to change the way it targets cities where engagement has previously been low. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, chief of Training and Doctrine Command, is leading a study of the Army’s recruitment practices. When discussing new practices, he said, “We need to do this targeted recruiting effort — put recruiters in the right part of the local population [and] arm them with a message that resonates with that population.” Along with more targeted messaging, the Army will also be launching new advertisements to be shown on social media and streaming services. –LB
Bottom line: The Army and all the services are facing a basic fact of life: when the economy is strong and unemployment is low, it becomes more difficult to recruit service members. While there is always a certain portion of recruits who make decisions for reasons other than economic necessity and will continue to walk through the door, they are not the ones who are the difference between meeting or failing to meet recruiting goals for the year. Beyond fighting the economy, the Army must change in at least three areas if it wants to squeeze more recruits out of a small candidate pool. Internally, it must increase its efforts in dense urban areas, where recruiting tends to be more expensive. In the past, cost savings led the military to consolidate its bases and its recruiting stations in lower cost, higher success areas of the country, particularly the South. But in this time of military need, recruits will be more expensive per head no matter what the Army does, so refocusing on cities will make more economic sense than it may have in 2010. Second, the Army must consider that surveys of American youth in recent years have shown that among those who are willing to consider military service, many are not necessarily motivated by images of combat, which still dominates much of the advertising. These youth live on computers, so they want to know how they will be able to use and interact with advanced technology to do their jobs. And many of them are just as interested in white collar professions as they are in military service, so they want to know how they can become an administrative specialist, a computer programmer, a lawyer or a doctor while serving their country and having guaranteed training and employment. Finally, the Army and the military as a whole must grapple with the fact that its candidate pool is shrinking to due health concerns and criminal records, and also accept that the military has its own share of obese and misbehaving service members, as has been reported on extensively this year. There is no magic bullet for the Army. It has to spend more on recruiting, tailor its messaging to appeal to what American youth say is of interest to them and be a good partner in the fight to reduce the negative impact of widespread physical, mental and behavioral issues on America’s youth. –BW

Charity for veterans’ funerals faces federal investigation
Geoff Ziezulewicz (@JournoGeoffZ), Military Times
Dog Tag Furniture is a charitable organization that builds and sells wooden American flags and other patriotic items, and accepts donations to fund veteran funerals. On Nov. 22, 2017, Army veteran and founder of Dog Tag Furniture Troy D. Walker said, “I hold the personal responsibility to make sure every dollar I receive goes out to funerals.” According to court records, the Walkers and their organization are under investigation by the FBI and U.S. Postal Service due to allegations of money laundering and wire fraud. Between August 2017 and July 2018, the charity received around $490,000 in sales and donations, but only two funerals were covered with a total cost of $3,295. Dog Tag Furniture’s defense attorney says that they are currently “pausing everything” due to “negative publicity.” –SM
Bottom line: When you read how the Walkers allegedly spent the money raised for a nonprofit on a mission to pay for veterans funerals–a trip to Disneyworld, tattoos, even the mortgage on their house–it’s hard to really buy the defense that these people just didn’t do a good job with their books. Of note, law enforcement couldn’t find any evidence that the organization or the Walkers had paid for more than two funerals, despite specific claims about funerals on social media. Sloppy books or not, you’d expect some evidence of good deeds if this was more than a way to enrich its founders. Unfortunately this isn’t the first time we’ve seen organizations take arrange of Americans’ willingness to support the veteran community–and it won’t be the last. Dog Tag Furniture had the good fortune to land a slot on “Fox & Friends” which lent the organization credibility that snowballed into donations. It’s a good reminder for the rest of us to do our own due diligence about organizations and what they claim to be doing for veterans. Most big name non-profits we know today started small and perhaps had some “wacky” books early on, but they could point to actual people who benefited from their services. In a world that increasingly demands metrics and impact stories from nonprofits, that number itself can mean nothing if you don’t ask the right questions about who is really benefitting. –LJ

Democrats Are Ignoring One Key Voting Group: Veterans 
Jasper Craven (@Jasper_Craven) The New York Times 
The veteran constituency comprises 13 percent of eligible voters, and while the Democratic Party is pursuing veteran candidates, it is far behind the Republican Party in securing the veteran vote.  Republicans are constructing a formidable opposition to organize and secure this voter population, building off the momentum of 2016 when veterans were six percent more likely to vote than nonveterans and exit polls indicated that most voted for Donald Trump. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), who served in the Marine Corps during the Iraq war, noted that the Democratic Party “failed miserably to communicate to the veteran community.” While the party’s 2016 efforts were not successful, they are largely utilizing the same strategy, which assumes that the veteran community won’t support a president who dodged the draft. However, a June poll reports strong support for Trump among a majority of military voters. –KG
Bottom line: There is a lot to unpack in this piece about the efforts of the Democratic Party to reach out and mobilize veterans but in many ways, it transcends one party or campaign. First and foremost, it is true that just running a veteran as a candidate is not the only answer to mobilize veterans. We have seen numerous military veteran candidates lose their primary races and not take the veteran vote in the process. It’s something you hear in this newsletter frequently but, as we always say, when you’ve met one veteran, you’ve met one veteran. They are not a monolithic group and this is reflected more and more in their voting patterns. While traditionally conservative leaning we have seen that assumption fall apart in the post-9/11 generation as more progressive citizens join the ranks and transition to veterans. But in the end they also care about more than that identity. They care about healthcare. They care about the deficit. They care about immigration. They care about national security. Effective strategies to reach veterans means reaching them where they live with the things they care about which involves research and effort. Too often we see political campaigns ending at “well…I’m a veteran…soooo”. When a veteran starts to run for office their fellow vets are their first “tribe” to connect with and a commensurate effort to nurture that tribe is needed instead of placing a check next to that box and moving on to “harder” communities to reach. Mobilizing, talking to their issues and moving on those promises matter and hopefully the days of “I support the troops” being the end of the conversation are past for both parties. –FPW

Study looks to find new path for disabled veterans to find careers
Drew Brooks (@DrewBrooks), The Fayetteville Observer
In a recent article by The Fayetteville Observer, Independence Project co-founder, retired Army Lt. Col. Dan Gade, shared his story of recovery from injuries while in Iraq, and how he saw veterans suffering in a system that supports disability. Independence Project is working to assist transitioning veterans with disability ratings plan their post-service career, with the perk of incentives. Those eligible of the program will earn $320, as well as receive assistance in their job search, resume building tools and access to job coaching. –SM

Hedge Fund Billionaire Plans 25 Mental Health Clinics for Veterans by 2020
Richard Sisk,
Cohen Veterans Network (CVN) plans to expand from 10 to 25 mental health clinics by 2020. At the Cohen Veterans Care Summit, Steven Cohen, founder of CVN, said, “We’ve got a two-path approach – take care of today’s problems now and look for better answers in the future.” So far, more than 8,000 veterans and family members have been treated at their clinics. –LB

Former execs accused of sabotaging S.A. foundation that helps Green Berets
Sig Christenson (@saddamscribe), San Antonio Express-News
The Green Beret Foundation, based out of San Antonio, is suing former executive director Jennifer Paquette and former finance officer Melissa Pucino, claiming that due to both of them hacking essential passwords and computer accounts, it has made it impossible for the foundation to continue helping Green Berets and their families. –SM

One-Third of Youths Too Obese for Military Service, Study Finds
Oriana Pawlyk (@Oriana0214),
“Unhealthy and Unprepared,” a report co-authored by Mission: Readiness and the Council for a Strong America, stated that approximately 31 percent of youths are too obese to qualify for military service. This is concerning as the report comes at a time when the Army missed its recruiting goal for the year. Head of U.S. Army Recruiting Command, Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, said, “It’s not just the fact that they can’t pass some of the tests that we have, but if they come [into the Army] and they start to have obesity challenges, it’s the injuries that occur … Being able to handle [deployment] comes back to physical fitness.” –LB

VA won’t turn over documents related to outside businessmen’s influence on department policy 
Leo Shane III (@LeoShane), The Military Times 
After ProPublica reported this summer that three businessmen who do not serve in government positions hold undue influence on President Donald Trump’s veterans policy decisions, House Democrats requested correspondence transcripts between the group and VA officials. In response, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie denied the request and cited “ongoing litigation alleging violations of the Federal Advisory Committee Act” that deemed the documents inappropriate for release. Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) of the House Veterans Affairs Committee categorized the response as an excuse and noted that it “will remain a top concern of the committee until all our questions have been answered.”– KG

Army expelled 500 immigrant recruits in 1 year
Martha Mendoza (@mendozamartha) and Garance Burke (@garanceburke), The Associated Press
Between July 2017 and July 2018, the U.S. Army discharged more than 500 immigrants who were recruited with the promise of expedited citizenship. The Army provided a list of the 500 immigrants that cited “refuse to enlist” as the reason for two-thirds of the discharges. Badamsereejid Gansukh, one of the discharged recruits, said that he never refused to enlist. Gansukh, who hoped to use service as an honorable way to gain citizenship, said, “Now I feel like I was really targeted in a way. I feel isolated from the rest of the people who are living here.” –LB

Tradeshows and Conferences

American Legion: Fall National Meeting (Wed – Thur, October 17-18, 2018); Sheraton Indianapolis City Centre Hotel, Indianapolis, IN

Community Opportunities

Independence Project: Veteran Employment Study
A research study that helps veterans find a job.
Who: Veterans who meet the following requirements: Interested in getting a job; Discharged in the past 12 months OR have a discharge date in the next 8 months; Served at least 6 months of active duty; Be/have been an enlisted service-member between ranks E1 – E9; Have applied for a disability rating; Under 45 years of age.
When: Study participation open now!

Fred Wellman

Fred 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 Tuesday, October 16, 2018 10:45 pm

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