Veterans Roundup: The Chaos a Trump Tweet Can Cause, a Report on Where Military Sexual Assault Is Most Common, a New Brain Health Study and More

Posted by Fred Wellman

Report ranking military installations for sex assault risk delayed
Tara Copp (@TaraCopp), Military Times
After first being delayed due to concerns regarding politically sensitive data, the Pentagon on Friday released a reportconducted by the RAND Corporation looking at the likelihood of sexual assault and sexual harassment on military installations or ships, ranking them by service. Pentagon spokeswoman Air Force Maj. Carla Gleason said that the goal was to better understand and prevent sexual assault by reviewing the report, which ranked sailors, both men and women, as more likely to be sexually assaulted than other service members followed by the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps. According to the Department of Defense’s director of Sexual Assault and Prevention Office, Nate Galbreath, a follow-up report is in the works with surveys currently being distributed and results expected in April 2019. –SM
Bottom line: The most alarming—though not particularly surprising—finding in the location-based report on sexual assault and sexual harassment is that both men and women on Navy ships are more likely to be assaulted than service members on military bases around the world. Nowhere else do you find people in close proximity for extended periods of time with few distractions or opportunities to separate themselves from their colleagues. A Navy ship is a truly unique environment in the military, whether it holds 300 people or 5,000, and countering sexual assault and harassment in tight, confined spaces is a significant challenge. It will be interesting to see both how the Navy responds to this data-driven reminder of the inherent challenges in its operating environments and whether the trends in the 2014 data change at all in 2019, after five years where sexual assault and harassment has gained increased visibility as a problem to be confronted through leadership interventions and bottom-up training. Outside the Navy ship environment, it is more difficult to arrive at sweeping generalities, but problems also seem more common on bases where younger men and women live in relatively confined and restricted environments, as well as bases where opportunities—such as off-base parties—presents additional challenges outside of the direct command purview of the authorities. The military has a long way to go—as does society in general—in enforcing norms and laws that discourage sexual assault and harassment perpetrated against and by both men and women. –BW

Scientists Seek Veterans to Help Treat CTE
Brit McCandless Farmer (@britmccandless), CBS News
Scientists are learning that some veterans’ brains are affected by chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the same disease seen in the brains of some football players. Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist, has examined 125 veterans’ brains and discovered 74 of them had CTE. CTE currently has no cure and there is no way to accurately diagnose it in a living person, though Dr. Sam Gandy, a neurologist at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital, is conducting a clinical trial on a method to change that. This discovery could lead to relief for CTE patients, or potentially a cure. Dr. Gandy is currently looking for veterans who would like to participate in his trial, which he says is “giving those who may be suffering from the degenerative disease hope.” –LB
Bottom line: It’s important to note that CTE can develop without a service member ever suffering a singular traumatic injury to the head. Repeated smaller injuries to the brain–such as the small explosions used to breach doors in combat–are thought to be enough to lead to CTE. Thus, dual research tracks are needed to learn ways to prevent and treat CTE and the more well-known TBI. Interestingly, the research being pursued by Dr. Gandy conducts brain scans with an aim to provide better drug therapies. If the idea is to predict what drugs will work best on the scanned brains, it’s a good one as a similar process already exists in the healthcare space for patients with depression and PTSD. With so much research taking place whether its across the spectrum of brain health or across industries from the military to football, more must be done to foster collaboration among scientists so findings can be replicated and implemented. –LJ

Veterans facing judges to get more courtroom advocates as legal assistance program expands
Leo Shane III (@LeoShane), Military Times 
Veterans will now have increased access to legal aid resources after President Trump authorized a significant expansion of the Veterans Justice Outreach program on Monday. The program provides rehabilitation opportunities and alternative punishment options for veterans entangled in legal troubles. The program had already increased its number of specialists by 20 percent since the beginning of fiscal year 2018 and is now expected to increase by an additional 16 percent. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., the leading proponent of the legislation, stated: “Our veterans have served us, and now we need to do our part to make sure they can overcome some of the difficulties involved in adjusting to civilian life after the military.” –KG
Bottom line: Of important note here is the potential positive impact of these expanded resources. As Military Times highlights, in Colorado alone, 73 percent of veterans who completed the program have had no subsequent legal problems. Expanding those resources will in theory grow that number even more and replicate those outcomes across the country. Since the program was formed in 2009, it has handled more than 184,000 veterans’ cases and works closely with the VA’s homeless outreach and prevention programs, since incarceration is often linked to homelessness, mental health issues and substance abuse. –CB

New Emails Show Confusion At The Pentagon After Trump’s Transgender Ban Tweets
Vera Bergengruen (@VeraMBergen), BuzzFeed News
American Oversight, a liberal group, secured new emails via a Freedom of Information Act request that show the frantic activity following President Trump’s Tweets about banning transgender service members. While Trump referenced “consulting his generals” in the Tweets, the emails reveal rampant confusion in the Pentagon and confirm suspicions that Trump’s claim of consultation was “at best, misleading.” The Justice Department is entangled in multiple legal fights, not only over the injunction which halted Trump’s ban, but also over access to documents that would demonstrate the underlying process behind the Tweets. The matter is currently on hold, but according to a federal court judge: “The only evidence concerning the lead-up to his Twitter announcement reveals that military officials were entirely unaware of the ban. The court is led to conclude that the ban was devised by the president, and the president alone.” –KG
Bottom line: The fact is that not one single active duty general or leader at the Department of Defense was consulted or aware the president was going to ban transgender troops from serving before he announced it. Mounting evidence shows this was an effort led by Vice President Pence and a group of conservative activists, that may include some retired generals, but when Trump said he consulted “his generals” he was not referring to the ones the U.S. taxpayers are funding to serve the nation. This cache of emails shows the announcement completely blindsided the Department of Defense and they scrambled to produce documents and statements to back up the White House after the decision. This is not normal, it’s not professional, and there is every reason to believe the courts will find it isn’t even legal. We understand that this is the Trump Administration and they have a right to pass policy but the lack of any kind of proper process that includes the very department that will be affected by these decisions is ridiculous. Throw in the apparent involvement by deeply conservative outside think tanks and political action groups to actually write the policies, and you have a recipe where you place the military in the untenable position of being forced into politics and that is an unacceptable breach of the traditions of an apolitical military following the lawful orders of the civilian officials. Now it’s up to the courts to decide on a policy that should have been better considered in the first place at a time when the military can’t even meet its recruiting goals. –FPW

#BorneTheBattle 118: ‘Back to School’ round table featuring Jared Lyon, EJ Delpero, and Kirsten Battocchio
Timothy Lawson (@TimothyJLawson), VAntagePoint
Student Veterans of America (SVA) President and CEO, Jared Lyon, provided insight and guidance on student veterans joining a chapter at their campus when going back to school. He also talked about the importance of joining an SVA chapter to building relationships and says that if a student “has a peer on campus, they are three times more likely to graduate than anything else.” –SM

“World’s toughest endurance challenge” comes to Miami Valley
Allen Henry (@AllenHenry), ABC 22
Just outside of Dayton, Ohio, GORUCK Selection, which is considered one of the world’s toughest endurance events, took place. Participants attempted 48 hours and 80+ miles of intense physical challenges while carrying a weighted rucksack of more than 45 pounds and a 60 lb. sandbag. GORUCK CEO Jason McCarthy said, “We build a bridge between the military and civilian worlds. And so what these participants are here doing, they’re getting a day in the life, or two days in this case in the life, of Special Forces training.” –LB

Duty calls more veterans back to serve – in Congress
Michael Walsh (@wordsofwalsh), Yahoo News
According to the Pew Research Center, veterans make up about 20 percent of either legislative chamber, compared to 70 percent from 1965-1975. Organizations like Veterans Campaign and With Honor are working to change that and help veterans from both parties get elected to Congress. Veterans like Josh Welle, who is currently running to serve in the House, are hoping for the opportunity to continue their service in Congress. Welle said, “Veterans are well-poised to unite, because our entire education is grounded in mission, purpose, getting the job done. Congress is broken and career politicians are part of the problem. You need to send in new people to fix it.”  Legislators on both sides of the aisle also advocate for more veterans in congress. Chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) said, “What being a veteran does is gives you a very different view. When you’ve been in a combat situation, a deployed situation, you’ve been away from your family, you just look at things differently. It gives you a different set of lenses. That’s what a veteran has.” –LB

Some Low-Performing VA Hospitals Show Improvement
Ben Kesling (@bkesling), The Wall Street Journal
The Department of Veterans Affairs released an assessment showing that some VA medical centers across the nation have improved their measured quality of service over the past year. Experts say that because former VA secretary David Shulkin made the internal measurements public, hospitals are stepping up to provide better quality overall. –SM

DoD Needs to Better Monitor Tricare Care Providers: Report
Amy Bushatz (@AmyBushatz), 
A new report generated by the Government Accountability Office finds that military healthcare officials need to implement new methods for monitoring whether community-based providers are meeting the same benchmarks of quality care required by military treatment facilities. The report reveals that the current tracking system for civilian care only monitors the civilian healthcare contractors, Health Net and Humana, with expectations that those institutions monitor the individual providers and facilities. However, the contractors’ evaluations of the providers do not utilize the metrics established by the Pentagon and the detailed reports of their quality of care are not currently shared with military leaders. –KG

The Army is trying to find criminal conduct among immigrant recruits, email shows
Alex Horton (@AlexHortonTX), The Washington Post
Days before the Army reversed its decision to dismiss dozens of immigrant recruits who were seeking expedited citizenship by serving, an email was sent to Army Reserve attorneys from a military intelligence unit asking the lawyers to help “ scrutinize its completed security packets for admissions of potential crimes by immigrant recruits.” According to an Army legal official, at least three dozen attorneys were asked to help review screenings for recruits, and most of them do not practice immigration law. –SM

Tradeshows and Conferences

MilBlogging: Military Influencer Conference (Sept. 23-25, 2018); Orlando, FL

Marine Military Expos: Modern Day Marine (Sept. 25-27, 2018); Lejeune Field, Quantico Marine Corps Base, VA

Community Opportunities

The New York Times: A Generation at War
Who: C.J. Chivers, New York Times journalist; Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Purple Heart recipient; Bonnie Carroll, founder of Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors; Eric Schmitt, Pulitzer Prize-winning Times correspondent
When: 7:00 PM, Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Where: Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C.

Independence Project: Veterans Study
A research study that helps veterans find a job.
Who:Veterans who meet the following requirements: Interested in getting a job; Discharged in the past 12 months OR have a discharge date in the next 8 months; Served at least 6 months of active duty; Be/have been an enlisted service-member between ranks E1 – E9; Have applied for a disability rating; Under 45 years of age.
When: Study participation open now!

Congressional Hearings


Veterans’ Affairs: Veteran Suicide Prevention: Maximizing Effectiveness and Increasing Awareness
10:30 AM, Thursday, September 27, 2018
Where: 334 Cannon

Armed Services: Update On Military Review Board Agencies
Who: Ms. Francine Blackmon, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Review Boards), Department of the Army; Mr. John Fedrigo, Director, Air Force Review Boards Agency; Mr. Robert Woods, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (Manpower and Reserve Affairs), Department of the Navy
When: 3:30 PM, Thursday, September 27, 2018
Where: 2322 Rayburn

Armed Services: Contributing Factors to C-130 Mishaps and Other Intra-Theater Airlift Challenges
Who: Rear Admiral Upper Half Scott D. Conn, Director, Air Warfare, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Department of the Navy; Lieutenant General Jerry D. Harris, Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans & Programs, Department of the Air Force; Lieutenant General Donald Kirkland, Commander, Air Force Sustainment Center, Department of the Air Force
When: 9:00 AM, Friday, September 28, 2018
Where: 210 Capitol


Armed Services: The Impact of National Defense on the Economy, Diplomacy, and International Order
Who: Dr. Hal Brands, Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor, Johns Hopkins University, Senior Fellow, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment, Washington, D.C.; Dr. William Inboden, Executive Director and William Powers, Jr. Chair, Clements Center for National Security, LBJ School Associate Professor, University of Texas-Austin
When: 10:00 AM, Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Where: 2141 Rayburn

Armed Services: OPEN/CLOSED: Cyber Operational Readiness of the Department of Defense
Who: Ms. Essye B. Miller, Acting Principal Deputy, Department Of Defense Chief Information Officer; Lieutenant General Vincent R. Stewart, USMC, Deputy Commander, United States Cyber Command; Lieutenant General Stephen G. Fogarty, USA, Commander, U.S. Army Cyber Command, Brigadier General; Dennis A. Crall, USMC, Principal Deputy Cyber Advisor And Senior Military Advisor For Cyber Policy
Where: 2:30 PM, Wednesday, September 26, 2018
When: 216 Hart

Armed Services: Nominations — Abrams – Faller
General Robert B. Abrams, USA, For Reappointment To The Grade Of General And To Be Commander, United Nations Command/Combined Forces Command/United States Forces Korea; Vice Admiral Craig S. Faller, USN, To Be Admiral And Commander, United States Southern Command
When: 9:30 AM, Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Where: G50 Dirksen

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 Tuesday, September 25, 2018 9:28 pm

Leave a Reply

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

Notify me of updates to this conversation