Veteran’s Roundup: Commission on Care releases 18 recommendations, Faires doctrine unfair to military families, & VA released analysis of suicide data

Posted by Fred Wellman

Tragedy and Injustice: The Heartbreaking Truth about Military Medical Malpractice
Patricia Kime (@PatricaKime), Military Times
This is an important, well-researched, long read from Patricia Kime with a high quality presentation from Military Times laying out some very difficult stories to read about military malpractice cases and the inability for the families to find justice. All of the difficulty dates back to the 1950 Feres decision, when the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the Federal Tort Claims Act, the law that allows citizens to sue the government for wrongs done by federal employees or agencies, does not apply to military members. The theory is that Congress wouldn’t be on the hook for mistakes made by service members. Logic dictates that actions in combat such as crashing in an aircraft or charging an enemy position would be appropriate exclusions but today it means that blatant medical malpractice cases like failure to apply proper treatment while giving birth that leads to the death of the mother or loss of limbs due to surgery mishaps go unpunished. Several cases are working their way through the courts in hopes that the Supreme Court will finally adjust the Feres Doctrine and allow reasonable cases of clear malpractice to be addressed and families to win justice. It is a needed change for the families and for the good of forcing improvements in the military system. –FPW

Hundreds of Veterans Were Deported, Rights Group Says
Miriam Jordan (@mirjordan), The Wall Street Journal
In a new report, the ACLU of California has documented 59 cases of U.S. military veterans who were deported or are fighting deportation from the U.S. These are just some of the hundreds of immigrant veterans who have been deported for life due to minor crimes that led to the revocation of their legal residency status. Since 2009, military recruits are eligible to obtain citizenship during basic training, but not all immigrant recruits are aware of the program or understand the importance of completing the process in a timely manner. This is a tragic and unnecessary set of circumstances. If someone serves honorably in the military, they should be entitled to U.S. citizenship, and if their lack of citizenship is due to incomplete paperwork, that alone should not be cause for allowing a deportation to move forward. There are certainly caveats and exceptions to consider, but I personally hope that ongoing coverage of this issue leads Congress to legislate a simple, straightforward fix that ensures veterans are not deported for minor crimes, and creates a pathway for previously deported veterans to appeal for the right of return in a timely manner. –BW

Will Recent Deaths Tame Navy SEAL Training?
Aidan Quigley (@QuigleyAidan), Christian Science Monitor
This week, San Diego’s medical examiner ruled the death of James Derek Lovelace during BUD/S, the Navy SEALs’ basic training course, a homicide. While fully loaded with gear and struggling to stay afloat in a pool, Lovelace was repeatedly dunked underwater by an instructor. Holding a trainee underwater is not allowed, but SEALs told the AP that it wasn’t unusual at BUD/S, either. Lovelace’s death and the suicide of another failed SEAL recruit in April has led some family members and veterans to wonder whether the training goes too far. Perhaps unsurprisingly, none of the people saying that are SEALs themselves because that would require SEALs to admit to fallibility. Upon reading about the circumstances surrounding Lovelace’s death, I was reminded of this piece from last year wherein The New York Times investigated a SEAL team’s alleged abuse of detainees in Afghanistan. Perhaps rather than frame the question as one about the rigors of SEAL training, it should be a broader question about how that training might be negatively contributing to SEALs long-term health, well-being, and warfighting capabilities. SEALs have been valorized more than any other combat specialty in recent years but that does not put them beyond reproach. Elite forces must be held to a higher standard—just as they hold their recruits. –LJ

U.S. Veterans Commit Suicide at Rate of 20 a Day, VA Says
Ben Kesling (@bkesling), The Wall Street Journal
Collecting and analyzing large, representative amounts of data takes time. Last week, after careful collection and consideration of data on suicide, the VA finally has an accurate count of how many veterans have taken their own lives. While previously estimates based on a narrow set of numbers had pinned “22 veterans per day” as the key signifier of a mental health crisis among young veterans, the more robust data shows nuances that should raise concerns among advocates for a number of particularly vulnerable groups, as well as the veteran population as a whole. In the end, it shouldn’t be about “the number”. The latest data shows young veterans are at particular risk compared to their civilian peers. Veterans under 30 years old have nearly double the suicide rate of older veterans, but it’s older veterans who still make up the bulk of veteran suicides. Young female veterans have an unacceptably high risk of suicide; they are nearly four times as likely to commit suicide compared to civilian women. For advocates and policymakers, finally there are hard numbers to examine in developing solutions. Perhaps the most important thing we can do, based on the data, is encourage (and allow) greater access to VA health care: veterans who utilized VA health care had far lower rates of suicide. That will take VA working to make itself more welcoming to those at risk, particularly women, as well as Congress making VA more accessible whether through funding, reforms, or changing laws surrounding bad paper. –LJ

Commission on Care Report Reignites VA ‘Choice’ Debate
Tom Philpott (@Military_Update), Military Advantage
Last week, the VA Commission on Care dropped its long-awaited report for veterans’ healthcare reform. The report, endorsed by 12 of 15 commissioners (two thought the report was too mild, one thought it was too aggressive), landed with a 300-page thud. Of the 18 recommendations, 17 were widely supported even by dissenting commissioners, and largely focused on how to make the VA work better in areas such as administration, personnel management, and implementing best practices. The area which caused the greatest furor and will be the focus of most public debate in the coming weeks was the first recommendation, to significantly expand veterans’ access to community care by creating community-based health care systems across the country as a more comprehensive successor to the VA Choice program. There are a lot of questions to be addressed about this proposed change, which strikes a middle ground in the privatization debate. How will expanding access to community care affect the VA’s already-ballooning costs? How will it affect the integrated care, a core VA attribute, when VA providers will have to potentially share patients with community providers? How will the VA ensure that the community networks achieve consistency across geographic regions? The report moved the debate forward, avoiding serious controversy, but likely only guaranteed a continuation of the VA reform discussion into 2017. –BW

Employer Survey: Veterans Viewed as Heroes, But Not Necessarily a Good Hire
Gregg Zoroya (@greggzoroya), USA Today
Edelman released the results of a survey they conducted last fall with Give an Hour and the George W. Bush Institute that looked at the perception of veterans among employers and others and how that impacts employment opportunity and approaches to mental health treatment. The survey of more than 2,000 veterans and non-veterans found that some 84 percent of employers saw veterans as “heroes” but only 26 percent saw them as so-called “strategic assets” highlighting a disconnect between the pedestal that veterans are often put upon and their actual value in their communities. That’s a very challenging thing to carry around, being a “hero”. When you’re a hero it’s hard to admit you need help or might not really be all that noble a human inside. In the end these things are all barriers to making veterans seek the help they need in times of trouble. –FPW

Navy Veteran Helps KISS Prep for Boise Rock City
Hiring Our Heroes and VetTix are teaming up with rock band KISS to provide veterans the opportunity to serve as “Roadie for a Day” on the band’s Freedom to Rock tour. At the KISS concert in Boise, Idaho, Navy veteran Christa Mode was selected to support the band. She shared her excitement about the experience in a recent interview with her local news station. –JG

Hiring Our Heroes Workshop and Job Fair
Bryan Kennedy (@wxxvBryan), WXXV 25
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation hosted a Hiring Our Heroes Hiring Fair in Biloxi, Miss., last week. At the event, veterans, active duty service members, and their spouses had the opportunity to connect with dozens of employers from local and national companies and organizations. Since 2011, Hiring Our Heroes has hosted more than 1,000 hiring events for members of the military and their families. To find out if a hiring event is coming to your community, visit the Hiring Our Heroes website. –JG

Sailor of the Year Awardee Built Veterans Support Chapter from Ground Up
David Larter (@DavidLarter), Navy Times
Military Times has announced its 2016 Service Members of the Year. Among them is Sam Johnson, a Navy Hospital Corpsman 1st Class, who helped build a Team Red White and Blue chapter in Hampton Roads from the ground up. We’re thrilled to see a Team RWB chapter leader earn this recognition. Congratulations, Sam! –MC

20 Veterans Died by Suicide a Day in 2014
James Clark (@JamesWClark), Task & Purpose
As noted in our veterans and military issues section, the VA has done a deeper analysis of national data regarding veteran suicides. Judy Patterson, CEO of Service Women’s Action Network, expressed her view on the study in a recent Task & Purpose article. Patterson said that the research was needed in our community, but is “alarming” for SWAN members as the data shows women veterans have a far higher risk of suicide than their civilian peers. –MC

Delta College Receives Donation from Home Depot
The Midland Daily News
The Student Veterans of America chapter at Delta College will receive a $7,000 grant from the Vet Center Initiative, a partnership between Student Veterans of America and The Home Depot Foundation. The grant will benefit 300 student veterans at Delta College who will be able to utilize a newly renovated veteran center and one-stop-shop to connect with their peers and resources from financial to academic. –LJ

Quick Hits:

Should Women Register for the Draft?
Nicholas Clairmont (@NickClairmont1), The Atlantic
Because of recent efforts to integrate women into combat roles in the U.S., the topic of requiring women to register for Selective Service is up for debate. Last week, the House passed an amendment that would block all changes to Selective Service, leaving what looks like a long fight ahead for those looking to bridge the gap on women’s roles in the military. –JG

Deploying Incomplete Units to Afghanistan Hurts Readiness: General
Matthew Cox,
At a House hearing last week, lawmakers examined the readiness of U.S. troops deployed to Afghanistan and found that the military can only maintain current troop levels by sending incomplete units. Lt. Gen. Kevin Mangum, deputy commanding general of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, said that many Army combat aviation brigades have been deployed without aircraft maintainers, forcing the government to rely on overseas contractors for maintenance which ultimately costs much more. The concerns came just as President Barak Obama announced that he would leave 8,400 service members in Afghanistan throughout his term. –MC

Why the Marines Decided to Allow Heavier Women (and Men in Some Cases) to Serve
Dan Lamothe (@DanLamothe), The Washington Post
The Marine Corps has raised the height-weight ratio limits for women. Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert B. Neller found the changes were necessary after a thorough review of the latest data on physical fitness and body composition standards showing stronger women are often heavier.  –JG

Warrior Centric Health Receives National Award for Improving Equity of Care for Nation’s Veterans
Last month, Warrior Centric Health was awarded the Institute for Diversity in Health Management’s 2016 Membership Award for its work to improve the commercial healthcare sector’s understanding of the needs of veterans and military communities. Congratulations, Ron Steptoe, Dr. Evelyn Lewis, and Warrior Centric Health on this recognition! –MC

Dallas Shooter, 2 victims Had Military Connections
Alex Horton (@AlexHortonTX), Stars and Stripes
Patrick Zamarripa and Brent Thompson, two police officers who were killed in an attack in Dallas while patrolling a peaceful protest last week were military veterans. Zamarripa served for eight years before becoming a Navy reservist, and Thompson served in the Marine Corps for three years. The gunman responsible for the attacks was also an Army veteran. Although words are not enough, our team is keeping the families and friends of the victims of this attack, and the victims of those protesters were commemorating, in our hearts and minds. –SC

Corrine Brown Steps Down as Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member
Roll Call
The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs ranking member, Rep. Corinne Brown, has announced she is temporarily stepping down from her position in light of her indictment on fraud charges related to funds she raised for a charity that she allegedly used as a slush fund. In a statement Brown said she was stepping down due to “House rules” while vehemently denying the allegations. –JG

Tradeshows & Conferences:

No tradeshows or conferences this week.

Congressional Hearings:

Rules: Business Meeting to consider VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act of 2016
When: 5:00 PM, Monday, July 11, 2016
Where: 313 Capitol

Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs (DAMA): TBI Claims: VA’s Failure to Provide Adequate Examinations
10:00 AM, Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Where: 334 Cannon

Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies: Hearing to Review the VA Electronic Health Record Network (VistA)
Ms. Valerie C. Melvin, Director, Information Management and Technology Resources Issues
U.S. Government Accountability Office; Dr. Lauren Thompson, PhD, Director, DoD/VA Interagency Program Office U.S. Department of Defense; The Honorable LaVerne H. Council, Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology and Chief Information Officer, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; Mr. David W. Waltman, Program Executive, VistA Evolution, Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary for Health, Veterans Health Administration; Dr. Jonathan R. Nebeker, MD, Deputy Chief Medical Information Officer for Strategy and Design, Veterans Health Administration
When: 10:30 AM, Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Where: 124 Dirksen

Armed Services: Testimony on Cybersecurity and U.S. National Security
Who: Honorable Kenneth L. Wainstein,
former Assistant Attorney General for National Security, Department Of Justice; Mr. Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., Manhattan District Attorney; Mr. John C. Inglis, Robert and Mary M. Looker Professor in Cyber Security Studies, United States Naval Academy, and former deputy director, National Security Agency
When: 9:30 AM, Thursday, July 14, 2016
Where: G50 Dirksen

Think Tanks & Other Events:

The Brookings Institution: The Citizen-Soldier: the evolving role of the soldier and the state
When: 5:00 PM, Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Where: The Brookings Institution, Falk Auditorium, 1775 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Washington, DC, 20009

American Humane Association: Lois Pope LIFE K-9 Medal of Courage
Retired military working dogs who demonstrated exceptional bravery while serving in combat
When: 5:30 PM, Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Where: Rayburn House Office Building, Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, 20515

Military Times: 2016 Service Members of the Year Awards
5:00 PM, Thursday, July 14, 2016
Where: Cannon House Office Building, Washington, DC, 20515

For a full list of upcoming events, visit our website.

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, July 11, 2016 10:24 am

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