Veteran’s Roundup: The Military Marches On, Veterans Less Likely to Complain about Health Problems, So Many Veteran Charities to Choose from, and more

Posted by Fred Wellman

Suicide Toll Reveals How System Failed Canada’s Soldiers and Veterans
Renata D’Aliesio (@RenataDAliesio), Les Perreaux (@Perreaux) and Allan Maki (@AllanMaki), The Globe and Mail
An investigation by The Globe and Mail into suicide among Canada’s troops and veterans has uncovered some troubling statistics relating to the flawed system used to treat mental illness in the military. The families of 31 service members who committed suicide after returning from Afghanistan spoke to The Globe and Mail about their loved ones, and their lack of access to quality mental health. Nearly half of the 31 service members were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and more than two-thirds of the group sought mental health treatment after returning home, treatment that was deemed insufficient by the families of the deceased. The Canadian government is currently working on a complex suicide prevention plan for the military that it is set to release next fall. –KB
Bottom line: In the United States, we have a tendency towards extending our exceptionalism far beyond geopolitics. Yet, even in the area of mental health care for veterans and service members, our challenges are not unique. Our allies who fought alongside us in Afghanistan are facing many of the same issues as veterans seeking care and governments trying to determine the best way to deliver services. In Canada and the UK, no veteran-specific health care system like the VA exists because they have national health care systems. So it makes targeted healthcare for veterans based on issues like PTSD and combat-related health issues much more difficult to track and treat. The Canadian government, like ours, has committed to making suicide prevention a priority and a review of current programs is underway. Among other initiatives, Canadian Forces have engaged our client MYnd Analytics, whose technology that could transform how mental health medications are prescribed was featured last week on CNN, to conduct a clinical trial in coordination with its military doctors. We’re hopeful that as our allies learn from their studies, we can all implement what works together. Our service members shared the battlefield, they should be able to reap the benefits of research that proves what works and what doesn’t. –LJ

Report: Vets Face Serious Health Issues, but are Less Likely to Complain About Them
Leo Shane III (@LeoShane), Military Times
A recent study conducted by UnitedHealth Group and the Military Officers Association of America reveals that veterans are less likely to report health problems to their physicians than civilians. A handful of veterans are prone to face health issues such as heart disease and substance abuse, however when reporting their overall health, the majority claims to have exceptional status. This study is important for helping educate physicians outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs when they treat veterans seeking health care outside of the VA; it does mean these physicians will have to delve further into patients’ health histories to ensure there aren’t bigger health issues than what the veteran is willing to report. –DD
Bottom line: While the actual percentage differences separating veterans and civilians in this study are not huge, they are significant enough to provide guidance enabling civilian medical professionals to understand how they might need to view veteran patients differently. To put it bluntly, doctors need to dig deeper to get the full story and need to assume that veterans may be more likely than civilians to put up a positive front when their health is actually far from perfect. While physical health problems do not necessarily carry the same stigma among service members as mental health problems, there is still a tendency – noted in the study – for veterans to put on a good show for outsiders, both due to pride and an unwillingness to admit weakness. This certainly is not the case for all veterans, but civilian medical professionals would be better off probing a bit more across the board than assuming that they know everything up front about a veteran’s health care needs. Our friends at The Steptoe Group have actually designed an entire training curriculum around the concept of helping medical professionals get through the barriers that veterans put up and were just recognized by Forbes as one of the top 25 veteran led start-ups. This is important work and we hope more medical professionals will ask the hard questions to dig into the needs of their veteran patients. This study takes on extra importance in light of the fact that we could see an expansion of community care programs under a Trump administration, which would increase the regularity with which some civilian doctors see veterans for care. –BW

Senate Races a Mixed Bag for Veteran Candidates
Travis J. Tritten (@Travis_Tritten), Stars & Stripes
This year’s election saw a drop in the number of veterans in lawmaking positions, particularly in the Senate. While well-known veteran and Purple Heart recipient John McCain maintained his Senate seat, other veterans such as Rep. Joe Heck and Jason Kander lost to candidates with no experience in the military. Although their losses mean an overall drop in the number of veterans representing their states in Congress, this election cycle did see a surge in Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, with 27 post-9/11 veterans winning or maintaining their position as lawmakers. –KB
Bottom line: The basic point that I always make when discussing veterans in Congress is that there is one obvious reason the representation is decreasing: the overall veteran population is rapidly shrinking. Veterans remain overrepresented proportionally in Congress, even if the percentage is nowhere near what it was in past generations. That is not to say that we don’t want or need more veterans to serve in public office, only to acknowledge that since the overall veteran population is on track to drop below 20 million, the pool of possible candidates may not be as robust as it was after World War II, for example. But there is a major problem in Congress that stems from a lack of veterans, it just happens to involve paid staff and not elected officials. For years, HillVets has beat the drum to highlight that very few Members of Congress actually employ veterans on their staffs. So even as we discuss how many veterans we elected, we spend less time worrying about how many politicians have the ability to consult with an employee who also happens to be a veteran. HillVets is currently running a campaign to pressure Members of Congress to agree to hire at least one veteran in each of their offices. And while that may not be logistically possible, I certainly see no reason why Congress shouldn’t follow the lead of the federal agencies and ensure that more veterans are doing the work helping run the nation’s governing bodies. –BW

Like ‘the day Osama’ was Killed’: How the Military is Reacting to Trump’s Victory
Thomas Gibbons-Neff (@tmgneff), The Washington Post
After Donald Trump’s presidential win last week, service members and military families across the country are reacting to the news. According to a Washington Post compilation of troops’ reactions, many service members believe that Trump will fix problems they see in the military. Others have many reservations, including a female Army lieutenant who is worried about gender equality in the military. Military families also have concerns for the new commander-in-chief, as outlined in a recent letter to the president-elect from the National Military Family Association. Regardless of the opinions of troops and families, the Pentagon must forge ahead with the transition, and is already developing plans and making preparations. –MC
Bottom line: Another election is in the books and it’s one for history for sure. While the rest of the nation sorts through the wreckage of changed plans and bad polls, the military will do what it does best: move forward. The thing about military service is that you swear to uphold the Constitution. That means when the American people vote and a new president is elected, the military salutes and moves out. We expect nothing different this time. There are a lot of issues that are thrown into uncertainty now and as we pointed out in previous Scout Reports, the Trump campaign did not lay out many details of their plans so there is not a lot we know about what to expect. Our team will be sitting down this week to lay out what we see as some of the biggest issues the new administration faces and questions they will have to answer. In the meantime, we will watch to see who President-elect Trump appoints to key positions like VA Secretary, DOD and service secretaries and White House positions dealing with veterans’ issues. We will continue our mission at ScoutComms to advocate for veterans and military families and empower those who support them…regardless of the color of their ties and the letter in brackets after their title. Veterans issues aren’t partisan, they are American. –FPW

Donors to Veterans’ Causes Face Crowded Field of Charities
Michael Schmidt & Nicholas Fandos (@nytmike & @npfandos), New York Times
Three years ago, Chairman and CEO of Starbucks Howard Schultz made a promise to our country’s veterans that he would do everything he could to help improve their lives. With the influx of veterans through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, so too have we seen an increase in the number of charities to provide aid to veterans. The challenge that Howard and his wife Sheri faced was finding the few, from approximately 40,000, that would achieve the most with each donation. –JG
Bottom Line: The Sea of Goodwill. That is a term we hear a lot in this line of work thanks to the title of a report issued under former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen about the rise of support for the military and veterans communities. It’s a solid description but perhaps it’s the wrong analogy. Perhaps the “Flood of Goodwill” might be more appropriate as there was a literal flood of organizations created to address the needs of veterans, and like a real flood, that rising tide has brought with it good things and damage as well. We often categorize nonprofits as falling into three areas at ScoutComms: well-meaning and well run; well-meaning and poorly run; ill meaning and poorly run. There are very few truly malfeasant or purposely deceptive nonprofits in the veteran sector, fortunately, but there are many that fall into the middle category that may mean well but are poorly managed, focus on a mission that is duplicative or unneeded, or simply failing to have any impact. Sorting those out is the hardest thing to do because many are run by genuinely good people with hearts in the right place but are performing tasks best left to others or simply doing work that makes for good press and feel good stories but not actual impact. We exist to help donors and supporters sort through that flood and believe that with less money flowing into the sector the work will be more important to sort these out and encourage the poor actors to merge or fold their tents. –FPW

Veterans at Elite Colleges, 2016
Wick Sloane (@WickSloane), Inside Higher Ed
Many of the elite Ivy League schools report enrolling very few undergraduate veterans. In 2016, Princeton had one undergraduate student veteran, Harvard had three and Yale had 11. Critics are agitated that top universities report a diverse student body, while seemingly excluding veterans from their population. A number of programs have been established in hopes of increasing enrollment numbers such as the Posse Foundation, Ivy League Veterans Council, Service to School and our client Warrior-Scholar Project. These programs emphasize veterans as an asset to the classroom and work to enroll and keep student veterans in school. Peter Kiernan, founder of the Ivy League Veterans Council, firmly believes that connecting traditional students with veterans will provide those traditional students with valuable tools necessary to become strong leaders. –DD
Bottom line: A few weeks ago, a list of the best universities for veterans was released. None of the Ivies were in top ranked spots as the list is based on criteria like having a veteran center, existing veteran population, availability of supplemental funding, among others. In essence, things that exist at schools where many veterans already go. It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg scenario. Do the services for veterans come before you can recruit the veterans or do the veterans come and then you create the services that get you ranked as “veteran-friendly”? Meanwhile, a narrative is created that veterans should go to schools that cater specifically to veterans. In reality, the best schools for veterans are the same schools that are best for high school students. Organizations like the ones noted above, and our client Student Veterans of America, are doing excellent work to shift both how veterans perceive their options in higher education and how institutions of higher education think about recruiting veterans. Among the many reasons veterans should be attending top universities, one Kiernan often speaks about that takes on added significance with the growing civil-military divide is the fact that many of our future political leaders will emerge from the Ivies and it does our nation a disservice if they have never interacted with veterans in a meaningful way. –LJ

Storytelling Helps Empower Our Nation’s Heroes
Emilie Ikeda (@emilie_ikeda), Your 4 State
Over the past few weeks, Got Your 6, a nonprofit organization focused on empowering veterans and strengthening communities, hosted several TEDx-style Storyteller events to highlight veterans’ inspiring stories, and show that former service members are not broken. At the final event in the DC area, VA Secretary Bob McDonald shared what Veterans Day means to him, Judge Lou Olivera explained why he stayed overnight in a jail cell with a fellow veteran, and Wounded Warrior Project’s Deven Schei challenged civilians to tell service members why they’re really thankful. To hear from more Storytellers, visit Got Your 6’s Facebook page. –MC

Group Helps Veterans Enjoy Events with Free Tickets
Adriana Becerra, East Valley Tribune
After Mike Focareto went to the Super Bowl in 2008, he observed there were several empty seats in the stadium and from there, an idea turned into a reality. A former Navy sailor, Focareto created what is now the Veteran Tickets Foundation (Vet Tix), a nonprofit that provides free tickets to sports events, concerts and more for active-duty service members, veterans and military family members. Vet Tix is open to all branches of the military and has a simple registration process to gain access to the thousands of tickets offered year-round. Vet Tix has provided over 2.4 million tickets since its inception. Apart from the initial appeal of free tickets, Vet Tix has found that its services benefit those who cannot afford events, those who are not comfortable leaving the house and in many cases, it helps veterans leave the house and interact with others in the military community. Vet Tix also provides each Vet Tixer with at least two tickets as a way to encourage involvement with family and friends. –DD

Honor Our Future: Don’t Just Thank a Veteran, Ask Them What’s Next
Daniel Savage (@dsavage_83), LinkedIn
Our nation recently celebrated Veterans Day, a day set aside to honor those who have served in the military, regardless of age, rank or branch. But for the days after Veterans Day, LinkedIn has one simple call to action encouraging us all to go a step further: “Rethink how we honor our veterans.” Join LinkedIn in a campaign that goes beyond Veterans Day to #HonorOurFuture – advancing from gratitude to recognizing veterans’ ability to continue serving. They’ll be sharing the compelling stories of veterans working towards big futures, like the ones highlighted in this blog. ­–AB

Brain Scans Give Personalized Prescriptions  
Jake Tapper (@jaketapper), CNN
On Veterans Day, client MYnd Analytics’ breakthrough study on machine learning in mental health prescribing was featured on “The Lead” with Jake Tapper on CNN. The study, which was the fourth trial of its type, showed that, when doctors utilize the company’s PEER Interactive to prescribe medication to service members suffering from mental illness, it resulted in a 144 percent improvement in depressive symptoms, a 139 percent improvement in PTSD symptoms, and a 75 percent reduction in suicidal ideation. PEER uses algorithms and a large database of patient outcomes to generate an objective report which can help a doctor select an appropriate medication for an individual as opposed to “treatment as usual” which involves a significant degree of trial and error. –KB

MYnd Analytics’ CEO presents at Defense Entrpreneurs Forum-Silicon Valley
George Carpenter, CEO of MYnd Analytics, presented a TED-style talk this past week at the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum-Silicon Valley that highlighted the utility of PEER technology in the military sector. The talk focused on how this new technology can disrupt the world of military medicine by providing objective evidence to help physicians prescribe medications that will work best for individual patients. The Defense Entrepreneurs Forum is a national nonprofit that brings together innovators and disruptors in the national defense sector. –KB 

Tracking Military and Veteran Student Success – ‘They will be Tomorrow’s Leaders’
Jared Lyon (@JaredSLyon) for Military Times
In January, Student Veterans of America (SVA) will release the results of the National Veteran Education Success Tracker (NVEST) study, a research project that examines the success of veterans in higher education. SVA’s president and CEO Jared Lyon shed light on some of the major points of the study in an op-ed for Military Times last week, and discussed why it’s so important we continue to track student veterans’ success. –MC

Hiring Our Heroes-Huntsville Job fair set for Nov. 16
William Thornton (@billeneastalla),
Hiring Our Heroes will be hosting a hiring fair featuring more than 40 employers looking to hire veterans, transitioning active duty, and military spouses in Huntsville, Alabama on November 16. There will be workshops in the morning to help coach attendees on the best interview practices and resume building techniques before the hiring fair in the afternoon. Job fairs like this are held in cities, big and small, across the country every week. To find out when one is coming to a city near you, visit the Hiring Our Heroes website. –JG

A Special Comedy Show for Veterans Day: Armed Services Arts Partnership
Karen Pinkston,
The Armed Services Art Partnership, also known as ASAP, introduces and connects veterans to the arts community through art classes and comedy writing workshops as a means for self-expression. The program, which began as Sam Pressler’s side project in college, has steadily increased its traction and recognition across the country. Last month ASAP hosted an Alumni Comedy Bootcamp that brought the first ever veterans’ comedy show to the White House. Also, the Global Shapers Norfolk hosted a fundraiser the day before Veterans Day to benefit ASAP. Like ASAP on Facebook to receive notifications for future events. ­–JG

Will Donald Trump’s Pentagon reverse Obama’s women-in-combat rules?
Andrew Tilghman (@andrewtilghman), Military Times
Kate Germano, Chief Operating Officer of the Service Women’s Action Network, spoke to Military Times last week on behalf of service women who are concerned about what a Trump administration could mean for the recent progress made in integrating qualified women into combat units in the military. The President-elect, along with the Republican Party, has expressed opposition to the DOD policy, which set the military on a course for gender integration in all combat units. –KB

Local veterans Not Just Heroes, They’re Innovators
Anne Sprute for The News Tribune
Some of the biggest global brands that connect us digitally and physically call Washington State home. It’s a place where innovation flourishes. That’s why Washington native Anne Sprute founded RP/6 (RallyPoint/6) in Washington State, because an innovative non-profit needs that kind of culture to really thrive. Sprute started RP/6 a little over two years ago after retiring from the Army. She knew the challenge of transitioning from the military first hand and saw the solution like the soldier she is: make a plan and execute it. Today, RP/6 had developed an industry leading service that connect service members, veterans, and their families with the best resources in the community to meet their individual needs. –LJ

Quick Hits:

The Washington Post Live- U.S. Veterans: The Next Mission
The Washington Post (@postlive)
The Washington Post Live conducted an event, The Next Mission, which hosted top-level government and business leaders in the veteran and military family space. VA Secretary Bob McDonald was among the group of leaders interviewed. Sec. McDonald reported that after the launch of MyVA in December 2015, a program designed to make the VA more customer-friendly, veterans reported that trust, effectiveness and overall experience at the VA has improved. Other guest interviews included a Florent Groberg, a Medal of Honor recipient, William McNulty, cofounder & CEO of Team Rubicon Global, and former Sergeant in the U.S. Army Noah Galloway who overcame losing two limbs during combat and now empowers other veterans through fitness. –DD

VA Moves to Fire Executive who Used Office for Veterans Charity for Lavish Spending
Drew Griffin (@DrewGriffinCNN) and David Fitzpatrick (@fitz33), CNN
A Department of Veterans Affairs lawyer, Thomas Burch, will likely be removed from his position after the Inspector General released evidence that Burch exploited and misused funding from the National Vietnam Veterans Foundation which he ran in his spare time. The nonprofit earned a rating of zero from Charity Navigator, and didn’t even spend two percent of the money it raised on veterans. –MC

How the United States can help its Veterans
Douglas McCormick (@doug_mccormick) TIME
While charitable giving as a whole has seen 40 percent growth over the last 15 years, support for military and veteran-related charities has experienced just 4 percent growth in that same timespan. This is likely due to some major donors struggling to understand how their donations are creating meaningful impact in the lives of veterans and their families. For charities to avoid the philanthropic chopping block, McCormick advises nonprofits to better show the “return on investment” many directors of philanthropy look for when making funding decisions. –JG

Inside the painstaking recovery process of a Medal of Honor Marine
Thomas James Brennan (@thomasjbrennan), Vanity Fair
When you take a grenade for someone, you’re not likely to survive. However, Medal of Honor recipient Lance Cpl. Kyle Carpenter protected his friend and fellow soldier from a grenade blast while deployed in Marjah, Afghanistan, and lived to tell the incredible tale. The grenade blast he absorbed caused what should have been irreparable damage to his body and skull, but Carpenter pulled through and made a genuinely miraculous recovery. –AB 

Tradeshows & Conferences:

Service Women’s Action Network: First Annual Planning Summit
Who: Kayla Williams, Director, Center for Women Veterans, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; Judy Patterson, CEO, Service Women’s Action Network
When: Mon-Tue, November 14-15, 2016
Where: Registration now closed

Congressional Hearings:

No hearings this week.

Think Tanks & Other Events:

Council on Foreign Relations: A Conversation With Secretary Robert A. McDonald
Who: Robert A. McDonald, Secretary, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; Ellen Laipson, Distinguished Fellow and President Emeritus, Stimson Center
When: 8:30 AM, Monday, November 14, 2016
Where: Online

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 14, 2016 9:49 am

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