Veterans Roundup: Condensing DoD’s Peer Support Efforts, the Future of Women in Ranger School

Posted by Fred Wellman

National Guard Charlie Troop Back from Afghanistan Still at War
David S. Cloud (@DavidCloudLAT) Los Angeles Times. Last week, an article in Los Angeles Times discussed the challenges National Guard troops face as they return home from Iraq and Afghanistan and transition back into their civilian lives. –MC 
Bottom line: This piece puts real faces to the struggle we often hear about among National Guardsmen and Reservists returning home after war. While the transition from combat zone to community is recognized as a struggle for all service members, the NG and Reserve components undeniably face very specific challenges with no easy solutions. First and foremost is the disconnect many feel from the military once they return home. Active duty troops return back to military communities but NG and Reservists return to civilian communities and less obvious support structures. Their families, too, struggle with identity and peer support as many don’t consider themselves “Army” families though they deal with deployments and injuries just as any active duty family would. If future wars are to continue relying heavily on the NG and Reserve components, the support systems—both official and non-profit—will have to adapt to better ease the abrupt transitions home. ­–LJ

All 8 Women Fail Ranger School: Some Rangers Say Standards Should Change
Anna Mulrine (@annamulrine), Christian Science Monitor
Last week, the Army announced that the eight women who recycled Ranger School failed to pass the Darby Phase of the course a second time. Three will be allowed to restart the entire course in June and officials are considering allowing more women to attempt Ranger school. –MC
Bottom line: Mulrine continues to stay on top of the evolving narrative around women in combat and turns out a great article that breaks the “bad” news—no women are passing through Ranger School at this point—and then delves into the long-term question of whether the standards at Ranger School are appropriate to identify the right type of leaders for the current conflicts in which the U.S. is involved. It brings to mind Gayle Lemmon’s new book “Ashley’s War,” which explores the role that women played in augmenting Special Forces units during night raids in Afghanistan. They were able to deploy unique gender-oriented capabilities that allowed them to interact with, search, and interrogate Afghan mothers, wives, and female children, eliminating access gaps that plagued the male-only teams previously. This conversation is far from over, but it’s good to see that we are not just sticking with “we’re doing it this way because we’ve always done it this way” as the final word on this issue. –BW

DoD Drops Vets4Warriors, Expands Other Counseling for Troops
Karen Jowers, Military Times. The Department of Defense will offer peer support for service members and their families through Military OneSource starting this summer, a move that came after the DoD did not renew its contract for the Vets4Warriors program. The program was run by Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care for $5.5M a year and reported having taken some 130,000 contacts since December, 2011 using about 40 staff made up of veterans. New Jersey lawmakers have expressed concern about the change and its affect on the quality of services for military members though DoD insists its not reducing services available to service members and their families, only moving them. –MC
Bottom line:  Vets4Warriors was contracted at the height of the military’s rising suicide when dozens of efforts were being launched in a kitchen-sink effort to stem the tide. It’s logical at this point four years later to look at streamlining programs and simplifying access to care. We can’t attest to the value or success of Vets4Warriors itself but the volume of the support it provided never seemed to take off. For comparison the VA Crisis Hotline receives more contacts through phone calls, text messages, and online chats in one month than Vets4Warriors received in three and a half years. DoD points out that Military OneSource takes 900,000 calls a year, some 24 times the amount that Vets4Warriors has engaged. It’s not the number of programs DoD and VA have to assist service members and veterans in crisis but the effectiveness of them that matters. If the V4W can find private funding, it can continue its work but while the VA is trying to rid itself of its 900 different 1-800 numbers, DoD is trying to make Military OneSource the true one source for military members and their family members in need. We must hold them accountable for their performance but that isn’t measured in sheer numbers of programs but how well they work. –FPW

Quick Hits:

Joining Forces Announces New Executive Director
The White House announced this week that Air Force Colonel Select Nicole Malachowski will replace the recently departed Army Colonel Steve Parker as the Executive Director of the Joining Forces program. She will be the first woman to lead the program supporting military members, veterans, and their families and has distinguished herself as a combat F-15E pilot and former member of the Thunderbirds. –FPW

Interpreter-Soldier Reunites with Marine Major in Iraq
Michelle Tan (@MichelleTan31), Army Times. Ahmed Totti, an Iraqi who served as an interpreter for U.S. forces in his home country, joined the U.S. Army after he emigrated to America. During a recent deployment to Iraq, he ran into an old friend whom he has previously served alongside in the past. –MC

Veterans Affairs: The Uneasy Marriage of Military Money and the NFL
Charles P. Pierce (@ESQPolitics), Grantland. Grantland takes a look at the $6 million in advertising the Department of Defense has paid to NFL teams for in-game content promoting and honoring military service. –MC

Family of Rafael Peralta, Fallen Iraq War Hero, to Accept Navy Cross Award After Long Refusal
Dan Lamothe (@danlamothe), Washington Post
Sgt. Rafael Peralta, one of the nation’s most celebrated Marine Corps heroes of the Iraq war, will posthumously receive the Navy Cross 11 years after his death. –MC

Military Retirement Reform Gets Pentagon Support
Andrew Tilghman (@andrewtilghman), Military Times. Top Pentagon leaders have offered their support for most of Congress’s legislation to overhaul the military retirement system. However, Pentagon leaders want to ensure that shifting to a 401(k)-style plan doesn’t have a negative effect on retention and still provides adequate support for troops who serve 20 years or more and choose affixed benefit pension. –MC

VA Secretary: ‘We Can Get to Zero’ Homeless Veterans
Leo Shane (@LeoShane), Military Times. Last week at the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans annual conference, Veteran Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald challenged attendees to meet the deadline to end veteran homelessness by the end of this year. At the conference, about 600 advocates, experts, and local and government officials came together to strategize about ending homelessness. McDonald stressed the importance of making sure that the number of homeless veterans does not rise after we reach “functional zero”. Efforts like those of U.S.VETS and NCHV show how increased funding for homeless veteran programs has gotten us closer to that goal. –MC

7 Habits of Highly Effective Student Veterans
David Robert Howell for Task & Purpose. David Robert Howell, the director of studies for the Warrior-Scholar Project, provides valuable advice for student veterans looking to succeed in college. The Warrior-Scholar Project hosts academic boot camps across the U.S. for enlisted veterans who are planning on attending a four-year college. If you plan on furthering your education after serving, we highly recommend that you check out Howell’s tips and apply to a future Warrior-Scholar Project boot camp, held at 11 campuses across the U.S. –MC

Tradeshows & Conferences

No major tradeshows or conferences this week.

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

Congressional Hearings


Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations: Circumvention of Contracts in the Provision of Non-VA Healthcare When: 4:00 PM, Monday, June 1, 2015 Where: 334 Cannon

Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity: Legislative Hearing on H.R. 356; H.R. 832; H.R. 1994; H.R. 2133; H.R. 2275; H.R. 2344; H.R. 2360; H.R. 2361; and a draft bill entitled, To amend title 38, United States Code, to make certain modifications and improvements in the transfer of unused educational assistance benefits under the Post 9/11 Educational Assistance Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes. When: 2:00 PM, Tuesday, June 2, 2015 Where: 334 Cannon

Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health: Assessing VA’s Ability to Promptly Pay Non-VA Providers When: 10:00 AM, Wednesday, June 3, 2015 Where: 334 Cannon


Veterans Affairs: Pending Health Care Legislation When: 2:30 PM, Wednesday, June 3, 2015 Where: 418 Russell

Think Tanks & Other Events

RecruitMilitary: All Veterans Job Fairs When: 11:00 AM, Thursday, June 4, 2015 Where:  Tacoma, WA; Baltimore, MD

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, June 01, 2015 5:36 pm

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