Veterans Roundup: Social Media Trolls Target Veterans, Army Tries New Urban Recruiting Tactics, and More

Posted by Fred Wellman

Overseas trolls targeting veterans on social media: Report
Military Times, Leo Shane III (@leoshane) 

For two years our friend Kris Goldsmith has been researching the influence of foreign groups on U.S. veterans as the lead researcher in an effort by Vietnam Veterans of America. His mission started in 2017 when he discovered that VVA was being mimicked on Facebook by ‘Vietnam Vets of America’ using their branding but run out of a Bulgarian ‘troll farm’. Since then he has dived deep into the darkest corners of social media, from fake profiles of service members being used for romance scams to the bizarre case where a pro-Trump veterans page was taken over by Macedonians. Veterans have long been a target of influence operations as groups try to use the respect and high esteem which veterans garner in American society to shape political agendas and make money. Even after two years of badgering social media companies it appears they are making little headway in identifying and quickly removing fake pages or blatantly manipulative groups. The veterans and military communities need to look carefully at the content they are being fed and not fall for the scams, memes and fake news that are causing so much trouble and discord. -Fred Wellman, CEO & Founder of ScoutComms

U.S. Army Tries New Recruiting Tactics After Missing Targets
Wall Street Journal, Ben Kesling (@bkesling)

When the economy recovers, the military suffers. That’s one of the strongest “laws” governing military recruiting. When Americans have other options, they are less likely to choose military service. This is especially true in 2019, when current overseas military operations are not particularly popular among or well understood by the American people. In 2018, the Army in particular realized the consequences of this dichotomy when it failed to meet its recruiting targets for the year. In 2019, the Army not only wisely lowered its recruiting goals, it also pursued some new strategies. Like corporate America, the Army is increasingly driven and educated by big data, and they are crunching the numbers to try to gain every insight possible into what motivates Americans in a specific city or cultural group to consider military service, and what holds them back. As part of this effort, they are reinvigorating their efforts in large population centers like Chicago, where they had pulled back in previous years due to the relative inefficiency of their outreach. To succeed when faced by a strong economy and by other factors, recruiters are not only using data, but are trying to present themselves and military service in ways that are palatable to urban Americans. While the military continues to emphasize warfighting and lethality, which continues to serve Marine Corps recruiting efforts well, both recruiting and advertising efforts are increasingly telling the story of the “white collar” military jobs in fields like information technology, and also are emphasizing that you can serve in the military and spend time with your family. The Army should not delude itself that there are any magic bullets, but its continued willingness to reinvest its recruiting efforts bodes well for its continued resilience in filling its ranks. – Brian Wagner, President of ScoutComms

DoD to Military Members, Dependents: Steer Clear of Vaping, Patricia Kime (@patriciakime)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) connected almost 400 severe lung disease cases with vaping, leading the Defense Health Agency to alert service members and their families. Dr. Terry Adirim, deputy assistant secretary of defense, Health Services Policy and Oversight, said, “While the CDC investigation of the possible cases of lung illness and deaths reportedly associated with the use of e-cigarette products is ongoing, service members and their families or dependents are encouraged not to use e-cigarette products.”

Why fewer people are using the GI Bill
Military Times, George Altman

The number of people using the GI Bill in 2018 was down 7 percent from 2017. Officials have noted the decrease that started in 2016, but while remaining watchful they are currently unconcerned. “It’s a little bit too early, after only two years of watching this unfold, [to say] that it’s time to be alarmed, because I don’t think it is,” Keith Hauk, an associate vice president at University of Maryland Global Campus said. According to experts, there are several probable explanation, ranging from the strong economy to changing GI Bill rules that may discourage some veterans from utilizing their benefits.

Afghanistan and Iraq veterans were the ‘ground zero’ of the opioid crisis: Study
Washington Examiner, Cassidy Morrison (@CassMorrison94)

According to research distributed by the National Bureau of Economic Research, post-9/11 veterans are “experiencing an opioid epidemic nearly twice as severe as the one plaguing civilians.” The study found that this is related to chronic pain that is treated when returning from war zones, as well as a coping mechanism when dealing with post-traumatic stress. The authors of the research stated that, “While grim national statistics about the ‘worst drug overdose epidemic in history’ are increasingly well known to the American public, far less well known is that combat veterans constitute a population at ground zero of this crisis.”

Student loan crisis, not Mideast wars, helped Army leaders exceed recruiting goals this year
Army Times, Kyle Rempfer (@Kyle_Rempfer)

The Army has surpassed their recruiting goal for 2019 by signing up more than 68,000 active duty soldiers. The goal was surpassed with a recruitment push featuring GI Bill benefits and ROTC scholarships. Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, head of Army Recruiting Command said, “One of the national crises right now is student loans, so $31,000 is [about] the average. You can get out [of the Army] after four years, 100 percent paid for state college anywhere in the United States.”

Fred Wellman

Fred Wellman, CEO and Founder of 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, September 23, 2019 11:30 am

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