Veteran’s Roundup: Libertarian Veterans Making Their Feelings Known, Civil-Military Divide, 100 Veterans going to be Very Happy with VA, and more

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The Disconnect Beneath the Praise for U.S. Military
Kori Schake (@KoriSchake), The Wall Street Journal
Kori Schake has partnered with retired Marine General James Mattis to edit a book on civilian views of the military and the effects on the nation based on those seemingly distorted perspectives. In her Wall Street Journal piece, Schake highlights how some 88 percent of Americans describe themselves as proud of the men and women who serve in our armed forces. It’s easy to accept that high number as an achievement in itself but Schake goes deeper to discover that further questioning of Americans finds little actual understanding of the military, its size, its rules, its use and its limitations. So, while the average citizen has a heroic opinion of service members, that actually blinds them to the facts of their lives and allows them to be led astray by bearers of false facts and myths and to support policies that are not possible to achieve or are based on false capabilities. An ill-informed public will vote for things against its best interests or support political leaders with poor policies. So, we find ourselves in a time with nearly unlimited facts and data at our fingertips but a relation between our nations armed forces and it citizens based on little more than “they’re all heroes!” –FPW

VA Program to Provide Service Dogs for Some Veterans with Mental Health Conditions
Patricia Kime (@patriciakime), Military Times
The VA is launching a pilot program that would pair up to 100 veterans with service dogs to ease mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and PTSD. This will be the first time the VA covers any of the costs associated with service dogs unrelated to physical disabilities. Most notably, perhaps, is that VA is launching this pilot before even completing its own study on the efficacy of service dogs for mental health issues. So the VA is taking steps to implement a treatment even before it has a clinical study proving the treatment is effective. We look forward to the marijuana advocates and others utilizing this pilot program to highlight why VA should work harder to close the time delay in providing services veterans know are effective despite having the studies to prove it. Let’s not even get started on why there are delays even with proven studies… –LJ

Trump and Clinton Actually Agree on One Issue: Helping Vets
Gregg Zoroya (@greggzoroya), USA TODAY
The 2016 presidential race hasn’t been very interesting. The candidates pretty much agree on most things and there hasn’t been very much drama this year. Just kidding…it’s a freaking nightmare. On a positive note, both candidates do appear to agree on the need to take care of our nation’s veterans. On a realistic note…duh. Aside from agreeing on liking fuzzy puppies and little kittens pretty much no one is going to say they don’t give a damn about 20.9 million veterans who vote at a higher rate than the average citizen, but, like most things, they disagree on what “taking care of veterans” really means. To Trump it’s vastly expanded private medical care and quickly firing VA employees who aren’t effectively performing their duties among other things laid out in three pages of policy. Clinton for her part is more interested in continuing the reform efforts begun under President Obama and adjustments to the personnel systems that put more teeth into managing underperforming employees rather than accelerated firing tools that have been often been beaten back in courts to date. There is no doubt that Clinton’s campaign has put together significantly more outreach and coordination efforts to the veteran’s community creating substantially more depth to her team. On the GOP side most veteran outreach has been for rallies and cheering sections it appears. Neither candidate has dedicated a substantial amount of time to the issue although Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America was able to coordinate a special “Commander-In-Chief Forum” on September 7th where they will appear back to back to answer questions from service members and veterans. Of course, there is a growing outcry that Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson has been left out of the forum because…well…no good deed goes unpunished these days. –FPW

‘He Hurt the Heroes’: The Iraq War Veteran Who Lied His Way to a Purple Heart and $750,000
Cleve R. Wootson Jr. (@CleveWootson), The Washington Post
The facts of the case against Darryl Lee Wright are abundantly clear: he deserves no respect and no consideration for being a veteran with a combat deployment. He lied, connived and cheated his way to stealing nearly three-quarters of a million dollars from the U.S. government, shamelessly manipulating the system and playing off of stereotypes of the helpless veteran. Even worse, he helped ruin the life of a well-meaning federal whistleblower, Cristina Jackson, who doubted his stories and excuses when he worked at the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration. As we noted back in a June edition of the Scout Report, the repercussions of Wright’s case significantly harmed Jackson’s career path in the federal government. Unless the court decides late in the game that Wright is mentally incapable of being guilty, he deserves every punishment that is coming his way. Hopefully he will be a cautionary tale to anyone else who thinks that the veteran benefits system exists for his or her own personal gain. –BW

Don’t Dismantle the VA
J. David Cox (@JDavidCoxSr), Defense One
The unions representing VA employees are not necessarily the heroes of the last few years, but they are far from being the villains of veteran healthcare reform. Cox raises a number of good points about the complex intentions driving the efforts to reform the VA, even as he simplifies the intentions and diversity of the VA Commission on Care. The reality is that the unions—as they often do—have made it painfully difficult for VA leadership to fire or punish the worst behaving and worst performing VA senior- and mid-level managers. Yet their protectionist instincts for their employees should come as no surprise, nor should it deflect the thrust of Cox’s comments. He rightfully notes that the 2016 debate has often ignored all the ways in which the VA is providing good healthcare services to veterans or is achieving measurable successes. While he has a perspective that is colored by the obligations he has to his union’s membership, his viewpoint should not be overlooked. The VA does a great deal right in providing healthcare to veterans, even as it is held to a higher standard than civilian healthcare providers, and we should not be swayed by the arguments of quasi-veterans’ groups when they push for radical reforms that would introduce unwanted uncertainty and instability in the veteran healthcare ecosystem. –BW

Past Deadline, Feds See No End in Sight for Veteran Homeless Crisis
Nikki Wentling (@nikkiwentling), Stars and Stripes
With the Obama administration’s self-imposed deadline for ending veteran homeless passed and 40,000 veterans still counted as homeless, many in the veteran community have been asking what happens next. The government says it intends to continue the fight to end veteran homelessness, though with no new timeline for zero in place. As our friends and sometimes clients at the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans note in this piece, the federal government has put the resources in place and drawn attention to the issue. While some cities and states have declared an end to veteran homelessness, that is what NCHV calls a minimum standard. States and cities, working with federal and local dollars, should work to increase their standards even after declaring an end to veteran homelessness in their municipality. One reason the deadline wasn’t met on time, as expected, was that the agencies involved underestimated the number of veterans falling into homelessness every year. That miscalculation is just another piece of missing data that makes it harder for all the resources available to act together in a coordinated manner. In addition to sustaining funding and increasing standards, agencies at the federal and local level are going to have to improve their use of data, too, if they want to truly end veteran homelessness. –LJ

Vets And Service Members Can Attend These 13 Major Events For Free In September
Steven Weintraub (@weintraub_sd), Task & Purpose
This September, the nonprofit Vet Tix is providing tickets to service members and veterans to hundreds of major events. Each event featured in the latest Task & Purpose article has at least 100 donated tickets for veterans and service members. The events range from the 5th annual Summerland Tour in Michigan with Sugar Ray, to Chicago White Sox baseball tickets, to a University of Arizona football game, among many others. To sign up or learn more about these and the many more tickets available to service members and veterans, visit and create an account. –MC

Military Member Becomes ‘Roadie for a Day’ for Legendary Rockers ‘KISS’
Sharon Gaeta (@SharonGaeta), NBC 24
The world famous rock band KISS has hit the road for their North American ‘Freedom to Rock’ Tour. At each concert they have partnered with Hiring Our Heroes to hire one local service member or veteran to work backstage as a roadie. The roadie then gets to attend the concert as a VIP and goes on stage to be honored for their service. In recognition of the Hiring Our Heroes partnership, KISS has donated $150,000 to the organization that helps transitioning service members, veterans, and military spouses find meaningful employment. –JG
Other coverage:
KISS in concert this Friday

The Vindicator, Youngstown, OH

Hiring Our Heroes Summit Tackles Military-to-Civilian Transition
Kevin Baird (@FDNMcity), Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
Hiring Our Heroes hosts hiring events for veterans, active duty service members and their spouses all across the country. Job seekers can receive guidance with translating their military experience into language familiar with hiring managers in the civilian workforce. To find out if a hiring event is coming to a city near you, visit the Hiring Our Heroes website. –JG

Digital Skills on the Path Forward
An-Me Chung (@anmechung), Medium
Earlier this month, the Mozilla Foundation and RP/6, a nonprofit that connects service members, veterans, and military families with resources in their communities, hosted a two-day workshop for transitioning service members to learn skills to navigating the internet with the aptitude of a 14-year-old. Using a pre-workshop survey, the team created a tailored curriculum specific to the needs of the 50 veteran and family attendees. Read the full article for an even deeper dive into the workshop, and visit to find out how they are building collaborative partnerships in Washington State. –MC

Leadership Needed to Solve Veteran Issues
Jim Lorraine (@Jameslorraine), The Hill
Jim Lorraine, president and CEO of America’s Warrior Partnership, addresses how crucial collaboration and leadership is in not only addressing veterans’ issues, but in solving them. Using America’s Warrior Partnership’s Community Integration initiative as a prime example, he explains that by being a leader in veteran communities and by providing support through necessary resources, positive action will ensue. Communities need lawmakers and veteran-serving organizations to collaborate in order for their veterans to succeed. ­–AB

Boots to Business Reboot Helps Veterans Start Their Own Business
Carlos Correa (@CarlosCorrea2), CW6 San Diego
The U.S. Small Business Administration hosts a nation-wide entrepreneurial program for veterans, active duty service members and their spouses. This two-day program, Boots to Business Reboot, gives participants the opportunity to embark upon business ownership on the right foot, equipped with the necessary tools, information and resources. Following in-person training, participants have the option to enroll in an eight-week online course called “Foundations of Entrepreneurship,” provided by Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families. –AB
Other coverage:
Boots to Business Reboot helps veterans start their own business
Carlos Correa (@carloscorrea2), CW6

Financial Troubles at For-Profit ITT Leaves Student Vets Vulnerable
Alex Horton (@AlexHortonTX), Stars and Stripes
Student veterans at ITT Tech face losing whatever GI Bill benefits they’ve used at the school due to a loophole in federal aid programs that would go into effect if the school has to close. While civilian students would be able to have their loans forgiven, GI Bill users would not be able to recoup benefits. Student Veterans of America’s executive vice president of strategic engagement James Schmeling, said that students at ITT need to keep a close eye on the issue in the coming weeks and that schools need to be held more accountable in the future to prevent more student veterans from being at risk of losing their ability to seek higher education. –MC

Quick Hits:

Army, Coast Guard Hardest Hit by Zika
Patricia Kime (@patriciakime), Military Times
The military has more than 200 installations in areas where mosquitos capable of carrying the Zika virus are found. With 75 cases of Zika among military personnel, families, and retirees reported since May, over half of the cases are members of either the Army or Coast Guard. All of these cases of Zika were contracted from mosquitos outside of the U.S. –JG

Force of the Future Aims to Increase Military’s Geographic Diversity
Jim Garamone (@GaramoneDODNews), U.S. Department of Defense
A part of Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s Force of the Future plan is to increase geographic diversity in the military. Currently only a handful of our nation’s states are consistently contributing recruits, which has led to concerns both about underrepresentation and a future lack of eligible recruits. –AB


Tradeshows & Conferences:

American Legion 98th National Convention (Fri-Thurs, August 26 – September 1); Duke Energy Convention Center, Cincinnati, OH

Paralyzed Veterans of America: 6th Annual Summit & Expo (Tue-Thu, Aug. 30 – Sept. 1); Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld Hotel, Orlando, FL

Congressional Hearings:

Congress is in recess.

Think Tanks & Other Events:

George Washington University: Living With Consequences Of Agent Orange/Dioxin Fifty Years Later: An Update On The Situation In Vietnam And Laos From The War Legacies Project
Who: Susan Hammond, Founder and Executive Director, War Legacies Project, Jacquelyn Chagnon, Graduate, Elliot School of International Affairs
When: 12 – 2 PM, Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Where: Elliot School of International Affairs, 1957 E. St. NW, Washington, DC, Room 505

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, August 29, 2016 8:44 am

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