Veterans Roundup: Puerto Rico’s Vulnerable Veterans, A MilSpouse’s Perspective, Bigger Role for Private Health Care and More

Posted by Fred Wellman

A Dose of Reality: A MilSpouse’s Perspective on the 2nd Annual Military Caregiver Convention
Kait Gillen (@kgillen903), Scout Blog
We like to hire top talent that has no problem hitting the ground running, often right into supporting client events! As such, new hire Kait Gillen recently attended the Elizabeth Dole Foundation’s 2nd Annual National Convening: The Military Caregiver Journey. From experiencing the stress of traveling to and from D.C. for the first time to realizing how easily she, as a military spouse, could become a caregiver herself in the blink of an eye, Kait shares her revelations in our latest Scout Blog. Check it out! –AB

Veterans Affairs Chief Wants Bigger Role for Private Health Care
Ben Kesling (@Bkesling) and Peter Nicholas (@PeterWSJ), The Wall Street Journal
Secretary Shulkin plans to roll out more private care options for VA patients as a short-term solution to continuing problems with appointment wait times. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) proposes an even more private care-focused solution: he introduced legislation that would allow veterans to skip the VA altogether and choose private sector care for themselves. Shulkin emphasized that his plan to expand care options to the private sector is not a long-term solution and that private care options will no longer be needed once the VA improves and grows to become the preferred option among veterans. Advocates against privatization are pushing back, saying that the VA must remain the primary provider of veterans’ care. –JG
Bottom line: To say there has been a bit of angst among the veteran service organizations in the last week would be a bit of an understatement. While Secretary Shulkin insists there is no effort to privatize the VA, it would probably be easy to host a pretty healthy debate among leaders of the community who might disagree. Many of the words that Dr. Shulkin is using sound an awful lot like the words used for several years by the Koch-backed Concerned Veterans of America in their efforts to open veterans’ health care up to private medical care providers and insurers. A late report last week also noted that the Department of Defense and VA are in talks about expansion of Tricare to the VA as we reported in the last Scout Report. One thing we often say here at ScoutComms is that over at DoD “taking care of the troops” means very different things to different folks. We’re starting to think that perhaps “privatizing VA” has different meanings to different folks as well and figuring out whose definition is which will be the next big adventure in the advocacy world. –FPW

The last straw: Puerto Rico’s vulnerable—veterans, the elderly—outmatched by Maria
Dianna Cahn (@DiannaCahn), Stars and Stripes
Since Sept. 20, when Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico with 150-mph winds, the island territory has struggled to recover. Tens of thousands of citizens are barely surviving, left in moldy conditions without running water or electricity. The U.S. military pulled its forces last week, with the top commander of the efforts stating it is time for the next stage of recovery. However, Javier Morales, former president of the 65th Infantry Veterans Association in Puerto Rico, has been making the rounds to sick and elderly veterans and reports that many families are still in dire need of help, “Veterans should be able to get help, he said. “It’s frustrating. There should be a place to go where they help them.” While the VA has reopened most of its clinics, Morales says many families are still left fending for themselves. –KG
Bottom line: Cahn shares some important stories out of Puerto Rico in this piece. The island has a large veteran population, and though the VA has made a valiant effort to reopen most of its facilities, the island still lacks so many essential goods and services that caregivers for aging veterans in particular are facing some enormous challenges. Just as we get outraged over cases of the system failing veterans on the mainland, we should be outraged that the system is failing veterans (and our fellow countrymen) in Puerto Rico. Where the VA can continue to make progress and build upon lessons learned from previous disaster responses like after Hurricane Katrina, it should as scientists continue to warn that natural disasters may increase in quantity and intensity in the near term. Further, as the veteran population continues to age, it’s crucial that caregivers are empowered with the support and resources needed to prepare for the worst in case of disaster. –LJ

6 Organizations Serving Military Caregivers Around the Nation
Brad Bennett, The Daily Telescope
Military caregivers are an essential part of a service member or veteran’s well-being, as they serve in a direct role to care for those living with wounds, illnesses, injuries and more. There are a number of national nonprofits that work to empower and support military caregivers, increasing their level of connectedness with peers, developing and advocating for necessary policy changes and raising public awareness of caregiver issues. Veteran Tickets Foundation, PsychArmor Institute, Military and Veteran Caregiver Network, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Disabled American Veterans and the Elizabeth Dole Foundation are just six of the organizations around the nation seeking to improve the quality of life of military caregivers and their families. –DD

National Nonprofit, Veteran Tickets Foundation (Vet Tix) Breaks Their Record By Distributing 1 Million Tickets in One Calendar Year
Veteran Tickets Foundation (@VetTix), PRWeb
During 2017 alone, national nonprofit Veteran Tickets Foundation (Vet Tix) distributed 1 million tickets. Since its founding in 2008, Vet Tix has hit other milestones such as distributing more than 3.5 million events tickets and having more than 650,000 registered users. VetTixers range from the currently serving military community including members of the Guard and Reserve, veterans of all eras, families of those killed in action, caregivers and military families. Tickets to events can range from musical concerts, sporting events, events in the arts and family activities. Vet Tix had a goal of breaking this 1-millionth-ticket record in one year, and achieved it in late October. –DD

Giving Tuesday for vets: Basie, Grunin Foundation, 94.3 The Point join forces
Giving Tuesday marks a world-wide day of giving that many use as an opportunity to contribute to organizations making an impact in the lives of others. This Giving Tuesday, Count Basie Theatre will be teaming up with 94.3 The Point radio station and The Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation to host an all-day live broadcast that will benefit Veteran Tickets Foundation (Vet Tix). Contributions made to Vet Tix will benefit all currently serving military, including the Guard and Reserve, veterans, families of those killed in action and military caregivers by providing them with tickets to events that provide unique bonding experiences for families and peers. Up to $25,000 will be matched by the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation. –DD

GLAAD Funds Its First Feature Documentary: ‘TransMilitary’
Anita Busch (@DeadlineAnita), Deadline
For more than 30 years, the GLAAD Media Institute has aimed to provide engagement training and education for LGBTQ and supportive community members, as well as organizations that want to strengthen their media impact and help increase acceptance of LGBTQ people everywhere. Following Trans Awareness Week, the institute announced a grant to finance the promotion, media outreach and visibility assistance for its first feature-length film project, TransMilitary. The documentary will premiere in 2018 and follows the lives of four American transgender troops that are defending their country’s freedom while fighting for their own rights. –CBruns 

Tradeshows & Conferences

None this week.

Congressional Hearings

Veterans’ Affairs: Examining VA’s Failure to Address Provider Quality and Safety Concerns
When: 10:00 AM, Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Where: 334 Cannon

Armed Services: Testimony From Outside Experts on Recommendations for a Future National Defense Strategy
Who: Dr. Thomas G. Mahnken, President And Chief Executive Officer, Center For Strategic Budgetary Assessments; Mr. David A. Ochmanek, Senior Defense Research Analyst, RAND Corporation; Lieutenant General Thomas W. Spoehr, USA (Ret.), Director Of The Center For National Defense, Heritage Foundation; Dr. Mara E. Karlin, Associate Professor Of The Practice Of Strategic Studies, Johns Hopkins School Of Advanced International Studies; Ms. Mackenzie Eaglen, Resident Fellow Of The Marilyn Ware Center For Security Studies, The American Enterprise Institute
When: 10:00 AM, Thursday, November 30, 2017
Where: G50 Dirksen

Other Events

None this week.

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, November 27, 2017 12:58 pm

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