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Veteran’s Roundup: The Future of another VA Reform Attempt, How Elite Schools are letting down Veterans, Tragedy and Lessons in Death of Marine Recruit

Posted by Fred Wellman

ScoutComms Among Top 10 Percent of B Corps
Lindley Estes (@flsLindley), The Free Lance-Star
Last week, ScoutComms was recognized as a ‘Best for the World’ company in the customer impact category. Each year, B the Change Media honors the world’s top ten percent of B Corps and this was the first year we were eligible. Read more about the honor on our website. Thank you all for your continuous support of our team! –MC

Veteran-Owned Businesses Can and Should be a Force for Good
Fred Wellman (@fpwellman) and Zach Iscol (@ZachIscol) for Task & Purpose
Our CEO Fred Wellman teamed up with Hirepurpose CEO Zach Iscol to share why veteran-owned businesses belong in the B Corps movement. ScoutComms and Hirepurpose are some of the world’s only B Corps supporting veterans and both were recognized last week as ‘Best For The World’ honorees for their customer impact. In the article, Wellman and Iscol explain that they shouldn’t be some of the few veteran-led or focused B Corporations and encourage more to join the movement. –MC

Veterans Don’t See Much of a Choice in Either Trump or Clinton
Molly O’Toole (@mollymotoole), Foreign Policy
We’ve noticed a sort of quiet despondence among the veteran community in the last few weeks on both sides of the political aisle. IAVA and NBC held their much touted Commander-in-Chief forum on Wednesday and the reviews for both candidates left many veterans with more questions than answers. Clinton dealt with yet more questions (ridiculously long questions) about her email and policies while Trump managed to incorrectly mansplain a female veteran on the number of veterans who commit suicide each day. He also managed to throw some more bromance towards Vladimir Putin as an added twist. There is no doubt Clinton is offering a much larger and more in depth set of policy proposals on veterans’ issues and a substantially larger outreach effort while Trump offered a military “policy” speech this week promising to grow the military dramatically. Meanwhile polls show a tightening race among veterans and sobering acceptance that Clinton at least has better temperament and experience to be Commander-in-Chief than Trump but it’s anyone’s guess at this point. The next big moment comes on September 26 for the first debate. Hold on to your hats. –FPW

Where are Veterans at our Elite Colleges?
Frank Bruni (@FrankBruni), The New York Times
In this piece, Bruni sheds light on an issue many organizations, including clients Warrior-Scholar Project and Student Veterans of America, are working to fix. Data on the number of undergraduate student veterans at top universities, from liberal arts to tech focused, shows a significant gap on many campuses. While some schools like Georgetown and Columbia enroll a significant number of veterans, the Harvards, Yales, and MITs of the world are not making as many inroads in recruiting this diverse, dedicated population of students. These colleges may say that veterans aren’t applying, but that is not an answer that would be acceptable if their enrollment of women or minorities was lagging. Student veterans could bring a wealth of experience to these elite classrooms and should have the same educational opportunities that often shape America’s future leaders. Bruni notes a call to action for these universities: recruit as many veterans each year as freshman football players. We’d suggest the colleges willing to step up to the challenge contact groups like SVA and WSP about how to reach those veterans. –LJ

Proposal to Create Board of Directors to Help Run VA Draws Widespread Opposition
Nikki Wentling (@nikkiwentling), Stars and Stripes
If there is one thing that is abundantly clear during last week’s House Veterans’ Affairs hearing on the Commission on Care’s VA reform recommendations, it is that dissent and concerns with a number of the proposals will delay any major changes. The proposal to create a VA oversight board of directors seems dead on arrival amidst opposition from the committee, numerous VSOs, the VA and President Obama, who all were concerned about adding an extra layer of bureaucracy that would lack serious funding and decision-making power. The other major split noted by Wentling in her report for Stripes was over the largest proposal—to extend veterans’ access to community care when VA services were unavailable in a timely manner. The Commission has proposed the creation of new community-based health care networks, while the VA remains focused on its “Plan to Consolidate Community Care,” which would bring together a number of disparate and uncoordinated programs. The same debates will likely be replicated in the Senate this week when the Senate Veterans’ Affairs committee holds its own hearing with the Commission leadership. The big question this point is whether Congress will prove able—now or during the upcoming lame duck session—to take action on any new VA reform legislation, whether it be the existing Veterans First Act or another bill tied to the Commission’s recommendations. –BW

Senators: More Protection Needed for Troops Who Misbehave After Trauma
Patricia Kime (@PatriciaKime), Military Times
For many years, service members who were discharged for misconduct related to possible trauma-related mental health conditions had little recourse to upgrade their discharges, and received minimal sympathy from policymakers and military leaders. That has changed in the last few years, as efforts to humanize veterans who were forced out of the system when they could have most used the support of the VA have picked up steam both inside Congress and among veterans advocates. The Navy has already instituted several checks and balances to avoid hasty decisions, and eight senators have asked Defense Secretary Ash Carter to develop a DoD-wide policy that better protects service members from discharge, as the post-discharge appeals process rarely is resolved in favor of the service member. In addition to the request for a policy change, there is also momentum in Congress for a more permanent legislative fix. On Tuesday, a coalition of veterans groups led by Vietnam Veterans of America is holding a Capitol Hill press conference to push Congress and the Administration to do more to protect veterans with PTSD, TBI and MST from bad-paper discharges. ­–BW

Marine Corps Officials Recommend Charges in Death of Muslim Recruit
Gordon Lubold (@glubold) and Paul Sonne (@PaulSonne), The Wall Street Journal
Three separate investigations have been completed in to the death of Marine Corps recruit trainee Raheel Siddiqui at Parris Island when he leaped off the balcony of a barracks stairwell and fell three-stories. The results are troubling a host of ways and up to 20 Marines may find themselves facing disciplinary and criminal charges. The Drill Instructor involved in the moments before his death had already been disciplined for abusing a Muslim recruit and reports are that he slapped Siddiqui and called him a terrorist before his suicide. The entire unit chain-of-command is being called into question in light of their knowledge of his behavior and a reputation for over the top discipline and training in the battalion. The entire incident points to the challenges the Marines and all of the military faces in a time of increasing diversity in the uniformed services and questioning of how things “have always been done”. In the end there is no question that a young American who signed up to serve shouldn’t have been pushed to the point of killing himself as a means to end his service. It’s not okay. Period. The next steps in the military justice system will reveal more details but it says a lot about the Corps that they are taking on the uncomfortable task of asking questions of how they conduct their training. –FPW

Veterans Back on Patrol, This Time to Protect Marijuana
Julie Turkewitz (@julieturkewitz), The New York Times
We all know a few of these veterans, the ones who will always feel more comfortable working outside, doing something they feel has meaning, and alongside their fellow veterans. In this case, it’s a cadre of veterans who has found familiarity in pulling security for marijuana shops and growers in Colorado. The industry is rapidly growing in Colorado and so too are its security needs. Veterans are finding a unique role as both users and workers. Perhaps the most interesting reason given by a veteran for finding so much value working in the pot industry is that they feel a kinship with pot leaders as fellow outsiders. Meanwhile, another major VSO has joined the calls on Congress to loosen laws prohibiting research about the effectiveness of marijuana on treating PTSD and other mental health issues. The American Legion hopes increased research could lead to a more rapid implementation of marijuana as a treatment option for veterans. Of course, completing the research is only the first battle. Next would be actually convincing the VA and others to quickly make proven treatments available to those in need. –LJ

SU’s National Veterans Leader Left ‘Embarrassed, Sad’ by Trump, Clinton, Lauer
Mark Weiner (@MarkWeinerDC), The Post-Standard
Last week, presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump spoke at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America’s Commander-in-Chief Forum on NBC. Since the forum, leaders in the military and veteran community have spoken out about a lack of substance in questions and the candidates’ comments, including Dr. Mike Haynie, vice chancellor at Syracuse University and the director of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families. Haynie said that he was expecting a robust discussion on the candidates’ plans to impact “the social and economic wellness about veterans and their families,” but instead saw a superficial event. –MC

Hiring Our Heroes Event to be Held this Week
Lindley Estes (@flsLindley), The Free Lance-Star
Hiring Our Heroes brought their two-day transition summit to Quantico where dozens of employers met with veterans, transitioning Marines, and their spouses. Bonnie Amos, wife of the former Marine Corp Commandant, was in attendance to deliver remarks. Hiring Our Heroes hosts hiring events across the country each week. To find out if one is coming to a city near you, visit the Hiring Our Heroes website. –JG

KISS brings its Freedom to Rock Tour to the Richmond Coliseum
Hays Davis, Richmond Times-Dispatch
Hiring Our Heroes and Vet Tix each hosted a Virginia veteran as KISS ‘Roadies for a Day’ at the band’s Richmond concert. Both spent the day helping the crew prepare for VIP events and move around essential concert equipment during set up. KISS partnered with Hiring Our Heroes to make this opportunity available to local veterans at every one of their 40 stops on the north American ‘Freedom to Rock’ Tour. Margaret and I were able to attend the event, and we had an amazing time getting to know the roadies and KISS band members. We even learned that two band members come from military families. It’s a day we won’t forget any time soon, that’s for sure. –JG

Troubled For-Profit ITT Tech Institute Closes its Doors on Thousands of Student Veterans
Alex Horton (@AlexHortonTX), Stars and Stripes
On Tuesday, ITT Technical Institute announced that it would close more than 130 campuses across the United States. About 12,500 students used the GI Bill at ITT Tech in 2015 and according to Student Veterans of America, there is no process for student veterans to recoup their benefits and few options to transfer credits they earned. Students impacted by the closure should visit SVA’s guide for impacted students or contact SVA directly. –MC

Congress Needs to Put Veterans First
Robert McDonald for The Hill
The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee heard testimony on the Commission on Care’s final report on reforming the Veterans Health Administration on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. There are a lot of issues on the table, but at the forefront is the issue of the lack of Congressional action to place veterans as a priority.  –AB

As Retiring Servicewomen Enter the Business World, this Career Coach Can Help
Simone McCarthy (@simonelmc), Christian Science Monitor
It’s no secret that female service members struggle to transition from the military into the civilian workforce more so than their male peers. Carole Hyatt, founder of Mission: Getting to Next, is taking action to right this wrong in the form of workshops which address service women’s challenges and get them on the right path to employment. –AB

Army Announces Long Anticipated Family Program Cuts
Amy Bushatz (@amybushatz), Military.com
Lt. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, the head of Army Installation Management Command (IMCOM) has announced budget cuts to the Army’s family programs. Necessary child care and adolescent programs are spared from the cuts, but other programs are eligible for downsizing or removal from the budget. IMCOM is not directing the cuts, but leaving the decision in the hands of the garrison commanders and other senior commanders instead. –JG

Veterans as Props on NBC’s Commander-in-Chief Forum
Andrew H. Miller, The New York Times
Last Wednesday, NBC’s Commander-in-Chief forum was supposed to give veterans a voice in the upcoming decision on who will become our nation, and military’s, next leader. Instead, Miller argues, their voices were not heard and the veterans in the audience served merely as a scenic backdrop for the camera. -–AB 
Tradeshows & Conferences:

TREA: The Enlisted Association: 53rd Anniversary National Convention (Thu – Sat, Sept. 15-17, 2016); Tuscany Suites & Casino, Las Vegas, NV

Congressional Hearings:

Senate:
Veterans’ Affairs: The Future of the VA: Examining the Commission on Care Report and VA’s Response
When: 2:30 PM, Wednesday September 14, 2016
Where: 418 Russell

House:
Veterans’ Affairs: An Examination of VA’s Misuse of Employee Settlement Agreements
When: 10:30 AM Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Where: 334 Cannon

Think Tanks & Other Events:

Heritage Foundation: Danger Close: My Epic Journey As A Combat Helicopter Pilot In Iraq And Afghanistan
Who: Amber Smith, Author; Karin Agness, President and Founder, Network of Enlightened Women
When: 12:00 PM, Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Where: Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, D.C. 20002

Open Society Foundations: Book Launch: How Everything Became War And The Military Became Everything
Who: Rosa Brooks, senior fellow at the New America Foundation, columnist for Foreign Policy, and law professor at Georgetown University; Aryeh Neier, president emeritus of the Open Society Foundations.
When: 5:30 PM, Wednesday September 14, 2016
Where: Open Society Foundations, 224 W 57th St, New York, NY 10019

Vet Impact and HOPE: Impact Hope Fundraiser
Who: Vet Impact and HOPE, two veteran non-profits helping to impact peace and prosperity by assisting veteran business owners and startups expand into post-conflict and emerging markets, and by countering poaching in Africa.
When: 6:00 PM, Friday, September 16, 2016
Where: Blackfinn, 1620 I Street Northwest, Washington, D.C. 20006

For a full list of upcoming events, visit our website.

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, September 12, 2016 2:42 pm

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