Veterans Roundup: Sham VA Investigations, All Military Jobs to Open to Women

Posted by Fred Wellman

Services on Track to Open all Military Jobs to Women
Leo Shane (@LeoShane), Military Times. Defense officials say that by next year all military jobs in each of the four services will be open to women. The services are reviewing accommodations that will need to be made to allow women in the last few male-only jobs and rules for the changes will be put into place this fall. –MC
Bottom line: By all military jobs, the services mean all jobs will be open to women meeting the standards including special operations occupations. The services have until the end of September to develop those standards at which time we expect another swell of stories about women’s physical capabilities. By that time, though, we will have seen how a handful of female soldiers fared in Ranger School. Opening these jobs to women hasn’t been as hard as recruiting women, the Navy reports. The services are asking Congress to give them more flexibility in force management and to fund recruiting efforts targeted at women. This ScoutComms correspondent can’t help but think that having a more female-friendly job bank will certainly help the services draw in more women. The military has long relied on the allure of its elite forces to recruit for the thousands of other jobs men fill. –LJ

Is Enough Being Done to Prepare Veterans for Civilian Jobs?
Andrew Soergel (@ASoergel), U.S. News. Last week, a US News article dug deep into the veteran unemployment crisis conversation. The article highlights opportunities available, but also points out areas that veteran support falls short: translation of skills and transitional guidance. –MC
Bottom line: It’s great to see so many friends of ScoutComms in this story including Andrew Schwartz with Virginia Values Veterans and Alex Horton over at The Mission Continues. There comes a point, however, where we have dissected and re-dissected the veteran unemployment situation to death. We are awfully close. It’s very hard to call it a crisis when the numbers are bouncing around comparable to civilians and when overall veteran unemployment is running percentage points below the civilian average. Clearly to keep the numbers down a focus on skills training like the newly announced effort from the Schultz Family Foundation will make a huge difference but that must be coupled with efforts at retention once we get these men and women jobs. We are seeing more and more that companies are realizing that they are expending great effort to get veterans on board but now must find ways to integrate them, train them, and keep them once they are hired. We’d love to see more efforts on retention from employee mentor networks to Employee Assistance Program add-ons like our friends at VetAdvisor offer. It does us no good to keep getting veterans hired and expending dollars to get them hired if they are turning around a year later to hit the job fairs again because they couldn’t find a home at their new companies. –FPW

‘Sham’ Investigations: Docs, Nurses Investigated at VA Hospital
William H. McMichael (@billmcmichael), The News Journal. At the VA in Wilmington, Delaware, doctors and nurses have been reassigned during investigations a union leader calls “shams”. Neurologist Maryann Hooker believes these investigations are contributing to a culture of fear and are a waste of government resources. The message coming from employees at the Central Alabama VA Healthcare System is not much different where whistle-blowers claim to be under attack for coming forward about long wait times and cover-ups. –MC
Bottom line: In Delaware, the none of practitioners involved are being investigated for medical competency issues, yet they have been reassigned out of the facility and are not treating patients—very uncommon during investigations unrelated to patient care. That is leaving the VA short-staffed while taxpayers are footing their salaries and those of the temporary workers covering shifts. Hospital workers say the problems stem from leadership that “annexes” staff who speak out on behalf of veterans. Like the story last week out of LA, this one shows there are still serious issues within the fiefdoms of the VA healthcare system that must be rooted out before a real culture change can take place. –LJ

Opinion: No Room for Sense of Entitlement Among Veterans and Military Families
Dave Duffy (@DuffySends) for the Washington Post. Our good friend Dave Duffy, a Special Forces veteran and small business owner, takes on the sense of entitlement within the military community. He’s seen it first hand in when it comes to military discounts at his smoothie shop where one of his employees was vaguely warned by a military family member that they should offer a discount to families as well as servicemembers if they wanted to prove they cared about the military. –MC
Bottom Line: This is a theme we are hearing more and more lately and have witnessed ourselves first hand. We’ve reached a point where troops and military families expect the world to show them gratitude and feel they are “owed” by society. The fact is that today’s military families do have it hard but nowhere in the enlistment documents or oath of office does it say that we are “owed” eternal adulation, discounts, free VIP getaways or a host of other benefits from service. ScoutComms employees have witnessed Army privates walking through First Class on airlines asking for someone to give them their seat, store clerks accosted for not giving discounts on $1.00 items without providing military I.D., and questioning of the legitimacy of programs for veterans because they weren’t being offered for free. When we as a military and veteran community expect to be treated better than other citizens who risk their lives everyday like police and firefighters or that our service is above the rest of the nation then it’s not the average American creating the supposed “civil-military divide”—it’s us. –FPW

VA, Congress Trade Barbs over Trust, Transparency
Leo Shane (@LeoShane), Military Times. Last week during a House Veterans’ Affairs hearing, lawmakers accused the VA Inspector General’s office of withholding information regarding the wait list scandal that surfaced last year. VA officials have fired back, claiming that they are attempting to provide Congress with requested information without violating the privacy of patients. –MC
Bottom line: The fireworks at the Monday night hearing were loud enough to wake up most observers despite the late hour. Not only did animosity bubble up between the committee members and the VA representatives, but the typically bipartisan committee took a turn towards the political with Democrats accusing the Republican majority of making a spectacle rather than making inroads to getting better information from VA. If the hearing is a barometer of the committee’s goodwill for the not quite new Secretary McDonald, it looks as if they are heading into the dry season. For now, the committee has no more late night hearings on the calendar, but next week it heads to Tomah for a sure to be feisty field hearing. –LJ

IS Releases Troops’ Photos and Addresses, Urges Attacks
Gina Harkins (@GinaAHarkins), Marine Corps Times
The Islamic State Hacking Division, a group associated with the Islamic State, reportedly posted the photos and addresses of 100 U.S. service members and encouraged U.S.-based Islamic State supporters to attack them “in their own lands”. Pentagon officials are stressing that troops and military families should be careful about what information they share online. –MC
Bottom line: It appears that this information wasn’t stolen or “hacked” as they would like us to believe but was divined from available information online. It’s important to remember that there has yet to be an attack or even a report of an attempted attack on U.S. military personnel in the U.S. by anyone associated with the Islamic State. While it sounds scary that military members’ personal information can be available to a potential terrorist, the reality is that if someone really wanted to target military personnel hanging out near any military base in the country it would be easier than tracking them online. This is meant to sow fear and we need to not allow it to do so. Military members must guard their personal information online and those of us that serve them must remember their concerns about privacy continue to grow. For that reason it’s harder for us to reach them, harder to highlight their stories, and we must work to honor their concerns while striving to continue providing services and support that they vitally need. So, let’s not panic but let’s remain vigilant as a community. –FPW

Quick Hits:

‘Not Ordinary Men’: National Guard Crew Killed in Crash Recalled as Faithful Soldiers
Dan Lamothe (@DanLamothe), The Washington Post. Two weeks ago, seven Marines and four members of a National Guard crew were killed in a helicopter crash off of the coast of the Florida panhandle. The helicopter crew has been described as brave and anything but ordinary. Our hearts and thoughts are with their friends and family. –MC

Veterans Have a Place to Talk about Delays in Care
Gregg Zoroya (@Greggzoroya), USA Today. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America recently launched an interactive platform for veterans to share their struggles with Department of Veterans Affairs health care and benefits. Using the platform, veterans can describe their experiences and learn the struggles of others while others can use the testimonies to track the VA’s progress. –MC

More Veterans Connecting with Opportunity
Secretary Tom Perez (@LaborSec), U.S. Department of Labor Blog. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released their annual Employment Situation of Veterans report last week. In 2014, veteran unemployment went down among all demographics. Secretary Tom Perez shares the details and explains what this means in a Department of Labor blog post. –MC

Seeking Ways to Bridge ‘Civilian-Military Gap’
Oriana Pawlyk (@Oriana0214), Military Times. Many in the veterans and military community are working to bridge the social disconnect between civilians and service members, often referred to as a “civilian-military” divide or gap. Advocates say that the gap is the result of misperceptions and a lack of familiarity. One of the proposed solutions is to change the way veterans are portrayed in media and encourage collaboration between veterans and their communities. –MC

Justice Steps up Assistance Efforts for Troops, Vets
Karen Jowers, Military Times. The Justice Department is increasing its efforts to help service members as they face legal issues with employment, voting rights, and finances. Three Justice Department attorneys who have strong relationships with the military community will lead the “Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative”. –MC

Chairman Dedicates Songs to TAPS ‘Family’
Terri Moon Cronk  (@MoonCronkDoD), DoD News. The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) hosted its annual Honor Guard Gala at the National Building Museum last Wednesday. Eric Dane, star of TNT’s “The Last Ship”, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin E. Dempsey made remarks at the event and helped the organization recognize those who support the families of our fallen service members. Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert and Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey received awards for their relentless support of survivors. –MC

Additional coverage:
Noted actor praises TAPS Program, military members
Amaani Lyle (@LyleAFPS), DoD News
Access Pollywood: Eric Dane on Board with TAPS
Erica Moody (@ericalynnmoody), Washington Life
New Jersey Congressman, Navy Chief Honored by Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors
Vivian Hughbanks, Townhall

How I Learned to Heal after Losing My Husband in Afghanistan
Nicki Bunting (@npbunting) for Task & Purpose. Nicki Bunting, the widow of Capt. Brian Bunting, shares her story about grieving, loss, and reconnecting with the military family she thought she had lost. The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors became an integral part of Nicki’s support system and helped her reconnect with other widows on similar journeys as her. –MC

Blumenthal, Murphy, Delauro Encourage Connecticut Veterans to Apply for Warrior-Scholar Project “Academic Boot Camps”
Through a new partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Warrior-Scholar Project (WSP) is expanding the reach of its academic boot camps. U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro are actively endorsing the program in Connecticut. WSP hosts enlisted veterans who plan on attending four-year college at rigorous academic boot camps, helping them unlock their full academic potential. –MC

Program to Teach Troops Civilian Skills Before Transition
Leo Shane (@LeoShane), Military Times. The Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University is partnering with the Schultz Family Foundation and the Defense Department to launch Onward to Opportunity. The first of its kind program will provide troops and military spouses with on-base, industry-designed skills training before service members leave the military. The program will launch in six locations this year with the goal of assisting 10,000 individuals the first year. –MC

Marine Veteran Requests Deportation from Iran
Rick Gladstone (@rickgladstone), The New York Times. Marine veteran Amir Hekmati has renounced his Iranian citizenship and requested deportation from Iran. Hekmati has been incarcerated in Iran for more than three years and his family has been working tirelessly to bring him home. Please help support Amir and his family by continuing the conversation and sharing his story using the hashtag #FreeAmir. –MC

Tradeshows & Conferences

No major tradeshows or conferences this week.

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

Congressional Hearings


Homeland Security: A Global Battlefield: The Fight Against Islamist Extremism at Home and Abroad Who: The Honorable Newt Gingrich, Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, General Michael Hayden (USAF-Ret.), Former Director, Central Intelligence Agency, Former Director, National Security Agency, Mr. Philip Mudd, Senior Fellow, New America Foundation, Mr. Brian Michael Jenkins, Senior Adviser to the RAND President, The RAND Corporation When: 10:30 AM, Tuesday, March 24, 2015 Where: 311 Cannon

Veterans Affairs: Legislative Hearing on H.R.456; H.R.473; H.R. 474; H.R.475; H.R.476; H.R.643; H.R.1038; H.R.1141; H.R.1187; draft bill, “To amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize the Secretary of VA, in awarding a contract for the procurement of goods or services, to give a preference to offerors that employ veterans;” and a draft bill, “Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business Relief Act” When: 2:00 PM, Tuesday, March 24, 2015 Where: 334 Cannon

Armed Services: Stakeholders’ Views on the Military Compensation Retirement Modernization Commission Who: Mr. Scott Bousum, Legislative Director, Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States, Mr. Brendon Gehrke, Senior Legislative Associate, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, Colonel Michael Hayden, USAF (Ret.), Director, Government Relations Military Officers Association of America, Mr. Chris Neiweem, Legislative Associate, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Mr. John Stovall, Director of National Security The American Legion, Ms. Karen Ruedisueli, Government Relations Deputy Director, National Military Family Association When: 2:00 PM, Wednesday, March 25, 2015 Where: 2212 Rayburn

Armed Services: The Department of Defense’s Readiness Posture Who: General Daniel Allyn, Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, Admiral Michelle Howard, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, U.S. Navy, General Larry Spencer, Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force, General John Paxton, Assistant Commandant, U.S. Marine Corps When: 8:00 AM, Thursday, March 26, 2015 Where: 2212 Rayburn


Veterans Affairs: The Veterans Choice Act – Exploring the Distance Criteria Who: The Honorable Sloan D. Gibson, Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs, James Tuchschmidt, M.D., Acting Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health, Mr. Roscoe Butler, Deputy Director for Health Care for The American Legion, Mr. Peter B. Hegseth, Chief Executive Officer of Concerned Veterans for America, Mr. Joseph Violante, National Legislative Director for Disabled American Veterans, Mr. Bill Rausch, Political Director for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Mr. Carlos Fuentes, Senior Legislative Associate for Veterans of Foreign Wars When: 2:30 PM, Tuesday, March 24, 2015 Where: 418 Russell

Veterans Affairs: VA Opioid Prescription Policy, Practice and Procedures When: 10:00 AM, Thursday, March 26, 2015 Where: 418 Russell

Think Tanks & Other Events

Fredericksburg Area Museum & Cultural Center: Special presentation and book signing – Matthew Fontaine Maury, Father of Oceanography by John Grady Who: John Grady, author and ScoutComms special correspondent When: 6:00 PM, Tuesday, March 24, 2015 Where: Fredericksburg Area Museum & Cultural Center, 1001 Princess Anne St. Fredericksburg, VA, 22041

RecruitMilitary: All Veterans Job Fairs Who: Disabled American Veterans, Lockheed Martin Corporation, The Home Depot, JP Morgan Chase, and other companies When: 11:00 AM, Thursday, March 26, 2015 Where: Washington, DC area: 1600 FedEx Way, Hyattsville, MD, 20785 Houston, TX: Minute Maid Park, 501 Crawford St., 77002

Georgetown University: A Conversation with New York Times Journalists C.J. Chivers and Tyler Hicks Who: C.J. Chivers, Tyler Hicks, New York Times When: 7:00 PM, Wednesday, March 25, 2015 Where: ICC Auditorium, 37th and O St., N.W., Washington

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, March 23, 2015 10:23 am

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of updates to this conversation