Veterans Roundup: Love for the 10th Mountain Division, a Return of Fax Machines, and More VA Oversight

Posted by Fred Wellman

Meet @LadyLovesTaft, The 10th Mountain Division’s New ‘Mother Of The Mountain’
Abraham Kenmore (@twitterlessabe), Task and Purpose
Just after Thanksgiving, a popular anonymous Twitter page @LadyLovesTaft noticed the 10th Mountain Division had significantly less followers compared with other members of the XVIII Airborne Corps and decided she wanted to “show them a little love” by asking her followers to follow the page. Mounting a humorous campaign, she helped the 10th Mountain Division double their followers and was dubbed the #MotheroftheMountain. Her tweet and the ensuing banter between the two pages helps to highlight the overall community of Military Twitter and its importance in bridging the gap between the military and civilian communities. –MW

Bottom Line: She started life on Twitter not too long ago but in very little time this anonymous Army officer who is new to public affairs has carved out an often profane, frequently crude and always hilarious niche in military social media that has caught the eye of many in and out of uniform. I’ve had the honor of getting to know her in real life and she is a remarkably naturally talented public relations operator that is blazing a trail in a new generation of soldiers that speaks and interacts online, and that has general officers and public affairs leaders taking note. Her “campaign” for the 10th Mountain Division was simply brilliant with important insights on how the division is totally different than that guy who left you for another woman or their physical acts of endurance on skis. If you aren’t paying attention, her and her peers are going to start making military social media actually engaging instead of rah-rah silliness. If you aren’t following her, you should. But be prepared for hot takes on going drinking with her friends, a peculiar love life and her opinions on the need for men to get out of the way. Have fun and good luck LT. –FPW

CDs, faxes make comeback as military file-sharing service taken offline

Chad Garland (@chadgarland), Stars and Stripes
CDs, DVDs, postal mail and fax machines have made a comeback following the recent shut down of the Army’s Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center Safe Access File Exchange, or AMRDEC SAFE. The service was shut down last month as a preventative measure after potential security risks were discovered. A spokeswoman for the missile research center stated that the organization is unaware of any breach of their service and there is currently no established timeline for reactivation. Since the service was shut down, the Navy and Marine Corps have issued official guidance for secure transfer of information using optical discs while the Air Force and Army are still working on an alternative. –MW

Bottom Line: When I was deployed to Afghanistan earlier this year, AMRDEC was one of the few pathways available to me to transfer information internally and externally. It was an absolutely essential tool for doing my job as a public affairs officer, allowing us to send videos and photos in an otherwise information technology-constrained operating environment. Looking back, I can identify a dozen instances where a lack of access to the file exchange would have led to us failing to meet expectations. While AMRDEC SAFE ultimately is just one program out of the many that the military uses to meet its information technology needs, it played a critical role in allowing military personnel to transfer large batches of files anywhere in the world, to anyone inside or outside the military, without the concerns that might come with use of a Gmail account. As noted in the article, the lack of access to the file exchange is leading to a renewed reliance on burning and then mailing CDs, which is unsustainable as a solution in the era of instantaneous communications. This issue, while still just an inconvenience and not a matter of life-or-death, highlights how dependent our military is on secure systems and strong cyber security protections. Disruption of software and communications programs can affect not just file transfers, but also the ability of veterans to file disability claims or schedule necessary medical appointments. We are vulnerable in the areas where we are increasingly dependent, and it will be critical that we don’t just turn to stop-gap measures when issues like the security of AMRDEC SAFE arise, but invest in long-term solutions and robust security. –BW

Republicans and Democrats Unite on At Least One Issue: Oversight of the VA
Jennifer Steinhauer (@jestei), The New York Times
Lawmakers from both parties have criticized the Department of Veterans Affairs’ response to the issues with late G.I. Bill housing and tuition payments. Senator Michael Enzi (R-WY) said of the matter, “These problems have forced our veterans to go without money to pay for basic necessities like food and rent, with some facing potential eviction or the prospect of getting kicked out of school. They deserve better.” The next Congress is also expected to take on legislation and investigations involving “veteran suicide, the quality of VA nursing homes and the implementation of not only the G.I. Bill but another comprehensive measure concerning veterans health care passed this year.” –LB

Bottom Line: The Department of Veterans Affairs has long been one area where Democrats and Republicans have been able to work together, but it often seems as though they’re working through the the same problems year after year. It’s still unclear just how many veterans have been affected by late G.I. Bill payments, but according to The New York Times, more than 6,000 payments are 30 days or older and the system used to process these payments is 50 years old. While the bipartisanship is welcome, these are issues, among many, that need to be fixed – and fixed for good, especially in an era where veterans an increasingly used as political pawns in Washington.

Rolling Thunder ending its annual DC ride due to cost concerns
Leo Shane III (@LeoShane), Military Times
Next May will be the last Rolling Thunder in Washington, D.C. around the National Mall due to expenses the organization can no longer afford. Vice president of Rolling Thunder, Inc., Pete Zaleski says, “The group is not going under, and our message is not going away. We’re just not going to be doing it in Washington anymore.” –SGray

Dartmouth study finds VA hospitals outperform others in same regions
Nikki Wentling (@NikkiWentling), Stars and Stripes
Researchers at Dartmouth College compared the performance of Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals and non-VA hospitals in 121 regions and found that VA hospitals perform “significantly better” in mortality rates and patient safety, “We found a surprisingly high, to me, number of cases where the VA was the best hospital in the region,” Dr. William Weeks, a professor at the Dartmouth and former VA employee said. The results of the study led researchers to reach out to Congress, asking them to reconsider efforts on expanding veterans’ health care into the private sector. –SGray

GORUCK march in remembrance of Pearl Harbor
Caroline Burkard (@CarolineBuckard), WECT
Dozens gathered in Wilmington, NC to ruck about 30 miles across two GORUCK events and two days, honoring those killed in the Pearl Harbor attacks. GORUCK is a leader in the rucking community, which is a fast-growing fitness trend involving running or walking while carrying a weighted backpack. The GORUCK cadre leading the Wilmington event shared his connection with GORUCK, saying, “It’s important for me to be a part of this because I get to share some of my experience from special operations with civilians and other military and get out for some good fitness.” –LB

Overnight GORUCK Tough Challenge lives up to name
Tabitha Lipkin (@TabithaLipkin), Fox 5 San Diego
In honor of Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, GORUCK hosted a memorial Tough Challenge last weekend in San Diego, Calif. The group, which included Fox 5’s Tabitha Lipkin, traversed 20 miles across the five peaks of Mission Trails for a total of 12 hours through the night. The event was led by GORUCK Cadre, retired U.S. Army Special Forces captain, Kevin Edgerton. –KG

Over 70 Battle Endurance Training to Honor Lost Lives in Pearl Harbor
Monique Robison, WWAY-TV
More than 70 veterans, service members and residents of Cape Fear, North Carolina endured the cold weather and rain last weekend through GORUCK’s Pearl Harbor Light Memorial Challenge. While the event is a combination of rucking, a fast-growing fitness trend, and intense physical fitness tests, seasoned GORUCK Challenge participant Katie Jones said she believes the team-building aspect is what makes these events so fulfilling. –KG

2,000 Gold-Star family members go to Disney thanks to Gary Sinise

Logan Nye (@justlogannye), We Are The Mighty
The Gary Sinise Foundation sent roughly 2,000 Gold-Star family members to Disney World this week as a part of their annual Snowball Express, a holiday program aimed at helping families of fallen soldiers. Children as young as 2 and 3 years old and their families were able to travel to Disney for a five-day fun, inspiring, and therapeutic experience. Airports across the United States greeted the families with cheers and, in Nashville, a rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner. –MW

Rucking Event To Benefit Sandy Hook Promise
The Newtown Bee (@TheNewtownBee)
GORUCK, a veteran-owned fitness and apparel company, hosted its fourth annual GORUCK Sandy Hook Memorial Light Challenge this weekend to benefit the Sandy Hook Promise organization. The event, led by a special operations combat veteran, spanned about 10 miles and guided participants to overcome adversity while honoring the 26 people who lost their lives on that tragic day. –LB

Community Opportunities

Brookings: A conversation on the most pressing issues facing America’s veteran community
What:  Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) and the Foreign Policy program at Brookings will host a panel discussion about the most pressing issues facing America’s wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans.
Who: Open to members of the community – register here
When: Tuesday, Dec. 4 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Warrior Wellness Alliance: Warriors Connect Research Study
A groundbreaking research project led by the Bush Institute’s Warrior Wellness Alliance and Qntfy using donated public-facing social media and fitness tracker information to better understand mental health and wellbeing, and to design more precise and effective interventions. Watch this short video to learn more.
Who: Veterans are the primary audience, but anyone is encouraged to participate, regardless of military service.
When: Study participation open now. Visit this link to donate your information today.

Congressional Hearings


Veterans’ Affairs: “Tracking Transformation: VA MISSION Act Implementation”

When: 2:00 PM, Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Where: HVC 210


Veterans’ Affairs: The Veterans First Program after Kingdomware

When: 10:00 AM, Thursday, December 20, 2018

Where: 334 Cannon

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 Monday, December 17, 2018 4:58 pm

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