Veterans Roundup: Manufacturing for Troops, Jobs for Troops

Posted by Fred Wellman

VA Private Referrals on Rise
Adrian Sainz, The Associated Press. Until the VA can get its systems up to capacity, it’s sending an increasing number of veterans to private doctors. Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald said that the VA would need about 1,000 new doctors, nurses, and clerks at the Phoenix hospital alone to improve the VA’s capacity. The $16.3 billion VA bill signed by President Obama last week dedicates $10 billion to subsidize the cost of private doctors and $5 billion to hire new VA health care professionals. McDonald is making gains in other aspects of the VA as well, this week he works to improve the public view of VA employees by refocusing attention to successes of the system. –MC
Bottom line: With the majority of the $16.3 billion VA reform bill money going towards private care referrals, it should be no surprise that those referrals are up 25 percent. What may be most surprising is that said referrals are up only 25 percent. The big fear is that private care referrals become the status quo and considering the huge number of doctors each VA would need to hire by McDonald’s own admission—1,000 in Phoenix, 500 in Las Vegas—and a finite number of doctors with a smaller amount of VA funding to hire them, it looks more and more likely that permanent private care options have a future at VA. What remains to be seen is whether demand for private care referrals keeps up or if most veterans find a civilian health care system just as troubled (or more so) than the VA they have been dealing with. For all of its flaws, veterans consistently highly rate the quality of care at the VA; it’s access they have issues with. –LJ

PR Firm that Represented Disgraced General Puts Itself Up for an Award
Dan Lamothe (@danlamothe), The Washington Post. Ex-Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair was charged with sexual assault and other crimes back in 2012 after having an affair with a captain who worked directly for him during deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan. Sinclair eventually reached a plea deal with the Army, which dropped the most serious charges. Sinclair received a $20,000 fine and was forced to separate from the Army with the retirement rank of lieutenant colonel, but avoided jail time. MWW, a public relations firm, assisted Sinclair’s case before it went to trial by creating a website to counter prosecutor’s arguments and insisting that his relationship was consensual. Proud of their work, the firm nominated itself and it now a finalist for a Platinum PR Award in crisis communications from PR News for their work for Sinclair. –MC
Bottom line: If you ever wanted a picture of the civil-military divide in action in the PR sector this is it. MWW is rightfully proud of their work helping what they see as a clearly innocent person. In their eyes it was a consensual relationship between two adults and not rape so they are proud to have helped to get Sinclair out of those charges. Meanwhile military members and their families are horrified a PR firm would work hard to help a general officer in a position of power who abused that position to carry on an affair with a direct subordinate undermining discipline and good order in his command. MWW doesn’t understand how offensive Sinclair’s behavior is to the military community and how much he hurt the Army’s reputation through his “consensual” affair. This is exactly why ScoutComms exists in the first place–to help those working in PR better understand the values, norms, and ideals of the military and veteran communities. What Sinclair did violated a host of Uniform Code of Military Justice rules that are designed to protect the unique integrity of men and women serving together in combat. Perhaps it wasn’t a rape but it was a huge violation of the sacred trust we place in general officers and the military and veterans community is shaking their head that boasting about getting him a plea deal could lead to an award. The divide is that neither side understands why the other is bothered by it. –FPW

Program for Homeless Vets Gets $300 Million Infusion
Gregg Zoroya (@greggzoroya), USA Today. Supportive Services for Veteran Families, a VA grant program to combat homelessness that assisted nearly 40,000 veterans and 25,000 family members last year alone, issued a new round of funding to 301 organizations serving homeless veterans. The program is very flexible because the grants allow organizations to provide cash to veterans for things like security deposits, job-search transportation, and much more. Also on the topic of veteran homelessness, metal band Five Finger Death Punch came out with a music video highlighting the issue last week, although some of the facts are in question. –MC
Bottom line: Successful housing programs like HUD-VASH and other traditional subsidized vouchers typically only cover rent for an apartment or house. For someone in a homeless shelter or at risk of homelessness, sometimes having rent isn’t enough to get them into a home. Security deposits, furniture, utility bills and other financial burdens can mean the difference between sleeping in a car or sleeping in one’s own bed. That’s where SSVF comes in a fills the gap for veterans and their families facing homelessness. Service providers in communities across the U.S. and in Puerto Rico use SSVF grants to supplement HUD-VASH vouchers for housing and contributions from the private sector to ensure housing continuity for thousands of veterans. As the VA continues the fight to end veteran homelessness by 2015, preventing homelessness through programs like SSVF will be more important than ever so the nation doesn’t fail another generation of veterans. (Also, what is a Five Finger Death Punch and how on earth did they think it was a good idea to highlight AFN and obviously fake organizations as helping homeless veterans? If you’re looking for an organization that is truly committed to ending veteran homelessness, consider the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.) –LJ

Vets Everywhere Can Log On to Virtual Job Fair
Leo Shane (@leoshane), Military Times. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring our Heroes hosts job fairs for veterans, transitioning military, and their spouses all over the country. Now the organization is taking its job fairs to a new level of access by going online. Virtual Job Scout will allow participants to speak with hiring managers during active online events and it will also serve as a job board focused on veterans. Hiring our Heroes also hosted a two-day transition summit in Ft. Bragg, NC last week with an audience of about 1,200 soldiers. –MC
Bottom line: As talk of shrinking force sizes heats up, the U.S. Chamber Foundation is ramping up its Hiring Our Heroes programs to reach service members before they separate and wherever they are. A big issue with young veteran unemployment has always been a mismatch between where the jobs are and where veterans live. Hopefully by taking the job fair model online, Hiring Our Heroes can more easily connect veterans and jobs despite an initial geographic distance. Additionally, the online aspect can help service members thinking about separation find a job before they finish their final paperwork and make their final move. The Hiring Our Heroes summit at Ft. Bragg followed their successful first summit at Ft. Campbell and will be followed by summits at Camp Pendleton and Joint Base Lewis-McChord among other installations. –LJ

Robin Williams Was a Staple of USO Tours Overseas and in U.S.
Jeff Schogol (@JeffSchogol), Air Force Times. After losing Robin Williams last Monday, the military community remembered him as a staple of USO tours overseas and a strong supporter of the troops. Williams was dedicated to the cause and performed for more than 89,400 service members throughout his lifetime. Robin Williams traveled all over the world visiting troops and even toured with the USO in Iraq and Afghanistan. Williams touched the lives of many and is greatly missed by the military community. –MC
Bottom line: Robin Williams leaves a legacy of comedic genius that touches nearly everyone, civilian or military. As noted, Williams was an enormous supporter of the troops (despite being, like your editor, a bleeding heart lefty from the San Francisco area). In death, Williams has spurred a national conversation about depression and mental health issues that has many opening up about their personal, individual stories. If some good in lowering stigma or convincing someone to seek help can come from tragedy, Williams will have left a legacy far greater than simply a few trips downrange. If you or someone you know is in crisis, the Veterans Crisis Line is available 24/7: 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1. (Civilians use the same number, it’s the main line for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.) –LJ

Experts Concerned about Discrepancies in Old, New PTSD Criteria
Patricia Kime (@patriciakime), Military Times. The criteria for diagnosing post-traumatic stress disorder was changed in 2013 and although the new definition provides more flexibility and a broader understanding of the disorder, some veterans who screened positive under the old definition don’t meet the new standards. The new definition drops certain requirements; for example, patients no longer have to report experiencing “fear, helplessness or horror.” Recent research by the U.S. Army Military Operational Medicine Research Program questions if this will actually help PTSD patients get correct diagnosis and appropriate care in the long run. –MC
Bottom line: The new criteria for PTSD in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5 were actually designed to better capture the unique experiences of combat veterans and just like many attempts at fixing things we often end up making things harder. In this case while more veterans are being diagnosed with PTSD those who met the criteria under the older manual are not to the tune of about 30%. Experts are concerned that with full implementation of DSM-5 some previously covered veterans will lose their coverage or benefits. No move has been made by anyone to do that but this all goes to the difficultly of diagnosing or even defining PTSD for those who suffer from the malady. With news last week of a growing sense that many of those being diagnosed for PTSD are actually faking to get financial benefits we have a continuing challenge to ensure those with real hurt can be treated without stigma while being good stewards of public and donated funds. There really is no easy answer but we can’t stop encouraging veterans and civilians dealing with PTSD to seek help to deal with this challenge. –FPW

Obama Just Sent 130 More “Military Advisers” to Iraq. Is a Rescue Operation Next?
Josh Voorhees, (@JoshVoorhees), Slate. Last Tuesday, the Pentagon sent 130 military advisers from MARSOC and other SOF units to Iraq. Currently, more than 1,000 troops are on the ground in Iraq, a controversial action as top officials stress that this is not going to be another Iraq War. The 130 Special Operations Forces were sent to Erbil to assess the situation on Mount Sinjar and assist displaced Yazidis. Unnamed officials said that the troops were assessing what a rescue mission may have looked like if U.S. had to intervene. –MC
Bottom line: The fact is that the only way to effectively help the Iraqis beat back the blitz offensive by the Islamic State is with U.S. advisors and observers on the ground to effectively acquire targets for our air assets. The President’s use of the term “boots on the ground” is really not the choicest phrase to define what needs to be done to effectively fight this limited battle. We always have to have boots on the ground if we are going to ensure we don’t inadvertently bomb allies in the heat of battle or fail to effectively target the enemy forces. This won’t be a quick fight if we have any hope of saving the sacrifices that thousands of American and allied service men and women made to try and build a better Iraq. With the resignation of Prime Minister Maliki there is new hope that a page can be turned in the country after over a decade of disaster. Many of us who fought there and grew to know the Iraqi people hope they are able to make something of the mess they are wrestling with today. –FPW

Fredericksburg Businessman Named Veteran’s Business Champion (PDF)
The Fredericksburg Economic Development Authority August newsletter featured Fred Wellman, founder and CEO of ScoutComms, who was recently named the U.S. Small Business Association Veteran’s Business Champion of the Year for Virginia. Fred earned the award because of his support for veterans’ causes in his business and personal life. The newsletter highlights Fred’s service as the public relations advisor for the Yellow Ribbon Initiative at the University of Mary Washington Center for Economic Development and his service on UMW’s Veteran Owned Business Executive Roundtable. Congratulations again, Fred! –MC

Thousands of Jobs Are Waiting for Modern Veterans in American Manufacturing
Fred Wellman (@FPWellman), Task & Purpose. There are an increasing number of jobs in the advanced manufacturing industry, writes Fred, and coalitions like Get Skills to Work are placing and training veterans for those positions. Veterans often leave the service with many of the soft skills required for manufacturing jobs and only need certificates or associate’s degrees to gain the hard skills necessary. Get Skills to Work is a coalition of more than 500 companies committed to hiring veterans and 50 schools who offer manufacturing training programs. These companies and schools believe that veterans can help fill the major skills gap in advanced manufacturing. –MC

Business Training for Troops Impacted by Cuts
Fullbridge, Inc., is partnering with Concordia College to offer the Concordia Graduate Certificate to veterans and transitioning service members. The Fullbridge Program teaches participants the basics of business, from project management and marketing to financial analysis giving veterans a leg-up as they apply for jobs in the civilian world. The certificate functions as an executive level MBA and participants earn 15 graduate credits they can transfer to advanced degree programs. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America said last week that it will cover airfare for 20 or more of its veterans accepted to the program. The first class starts on September 15. –MC

Woman Runs Across America for Vets
Anna Judd, a 34-year old California native, is running across America from California to New York. Anna has been on her journey for about 5 months and is raising money for Team Red, White, and Blue and the Wounded Warrior Project. With extreme dedication and passion for the cause, she has been running a marathon a day towards the end of her journey. Anna will complete her 3,400-mile run on August 23 in New York City. If you would like to run with Anna or support her as she completes the final stretch, check out more details here. –MC

Tradeshows & Conferences

Maritime Security West 2014 (Tue-Wed, 19-20 August); Hotel Murano, Tacoma, WA

The 11th Annual National Convention of SDVOB (Tue-Fri, 20-22 August); Marriott, New York, NY

American Legion 96th Annual Convention (Fri-Thu, 22-28 August); Charlotte Convention Center, Charlotte, NC

NGAUS 136th General Conference & Exhibition (Fri-Mon, 22-25 August); McCormick Place Convention Center, Chicago, IL

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

Congressional Hearings

Both chambers are in recess for the month of August.

Think Tanks & Other Events

National Veterans Center: Stress Relief Meditation for Veterans When: 5:00 PM, Monday, August 4, 2014 Where: The National Veterans Center, 2013 H Street NW, Washington, DC

Fred WellmanFred Wellman, President ScoutComms, brings us his weekly review of defense industry and 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 18, 2014 7:39 pm

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