Veterans Roundup: The Military’s Discharge and Immigrant Accessions Problems, Fat Leonard and Civil-Military Relations, and the Veteran Anger Machine

Posted by Fred Wellman

Most troops booted from the military for misconduct had mental issues
Tom Vanden Brook (@tvandenbrook), USA Today
A GAO report released last week shows that a majority of service members discharged due to misconduct from 2011 to 2015 have a mental health disorder that likely led to their behavior and subsequent dismissal. The report showed that more than 60 percent of service members had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, a traumatic brain injury or alcohol orother substance dependency. More than 13,000 of these dismissals were labeled as “other than honorable,” leaving them without access to vital health benefits. This reduced access is particularly disheartening in the wake of another report from the Pentagon revealing that mental health disorders account for the largest percentage of time spent in in-patient facilities for active duty service members. –KB
Bottom line: This is an important report that validates what advocates have been saying for years: the military needs to reform its discharge process to ensure service members with mental health issues aren’t being dishonorably discharged when they should be medically or otherwise separated. Hopefully this report gives Congress the impetus to finally act on the several proposals that have placed in front of it. As Kirstie notes above, the military needs to change the status quo on this issue because a dishonorable discharge has typically stripped a veteran of necessary access to VA health care. The onus can’t simply be on VA to pick up the pieces when the military has the power to prevent these “bad paper” veterans from facing challenges with job applications and other transitions to civilian life. –LJ

Living in limbo: DOD rule change stalls path to citizenship
Alex Horton (@AlexHortonTX), Stars and Stripes
Dr. Kusuma Nio was scheduled to deploy with his unit in the Army Reserve as a trauma surgeon up until April 13 when he was notified by U.S. Citizenship Immigration Service that his non-U.S. citizenship prevented him from serving in the military. Currently the pentagon has 4,200 legal immigrants that are stuck because of red tape, with nearly a quarter of them waiting for background check approvals. In some instances, their legal status in the U.S. expires before they are scheduled for a background check. –JG
Bottom line: A large number of legal immigrants are stuck in limbo because of restrictions placed on the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest, or MAVNI program. MAVNI, which exists to allow foreign-born individuals to serve in areas of high need in the United States Military in exchange for expedited citizenship, focuses largely on critical language and medical skills. After a memo reauthorizing the program was issued in September, new restrictions have caused a backlog of nearly 4,200 immigrants who wish to serve in the military. Changes to security clearance protocols are delaying the ability of highly qualified individuals to ship out for training or receive appropriate clearances for service. From an economic perspective, these changes could cost the government significant funds as they try to meet critical manning needs with U.S. born or already naturalized service members. An anonymous Pentagon source has stated that there were threats identified in the MAVNI program as it existed prior to September 30. According to the source these threats necessitated further restrictions and program evaluation of MAVNI. That being said, other officials claim that the MAVNI recruits are some of the most highly vetted of service members in our Armed Forces, as they are vetted by both Homeland Security and Department of State during the visa process. As we continue to conduct missions around the globe, we need highly skilled service members to fill certain skills gaps. It is critical that we reevaluate this program quickly, so that we can continue to field a force ready to face ever-changing threats-dragging our feet is simply not an option. –RB

Former admiral sentenced to 18 months in ‘Fat Leonard’ case
Craig Whitlock (@CraigMWhitlock), The Washington Post
Robert J. Gilbeau, a former admiral in the Navy, was sentenced to 18 months in prison this past Wednesday. Gilbeau pled guilty to accepting bribes from Leonard Glenn Francis, a defense contractor who provided multiple members of the Navy with prostitutes and luxury goods in exchange for classified information. The Navy is pursuing investigations into 200 of its members who had possible ties to this scandal. –KB
Bottom line: This entire scandal just gets worse and worse but the conduct of this admiral is really the most reprehensible in a lot of ways. Not only did he break the law for 18 years by accepting bribes but also when he was finally caught he tried to use PTS and TBI from an attack in Iraq in 2007 as an excuse for his behavior. We’re positive there isn’t a single study that will support the claim that seeking sexual liaisons with two Vietnamese prostitutes from a defense contractor over a period of nearly two decades is a symptom of PTS or TBI. What’s even sadder is that his anxiety and mental health issues only manifested themselves, remarkably, when Fat Leonard got arrested. So, not only has this embarrassment of an officer broken the basic moral code of a military leader, he has now also tried to hide behind combat mental health issues to seek a lighter punishment and further added to the stereotypes and myths about those conditions. The first active duty admiral ever convicted of a felony and he managed to find even more ways to embarrass himself as he heads to jail. –FPW

National Guard soldier upset with United Airlines for being charged for overweight bag
Noelle Newton (@NoelleonFOX7), FOX 7 Austin
While traveling home from extended military duty in Afghanistan, Texas National Guard 1st Lt. John Rader was charged a baggage overage fee of $200 by United Airlines. All currently serving military are allowed to check up to five bags at no cost, as long as they meet the requirement of not exceeding 70 pounds. Rader is speaking out in an effort to create a permanent policy change to ensure other military personnel are not charged unexpectedly. United Airlines stated they are looking to refund Rader “as a gesture of goodwill.” –DD
Bottom line: This one really is mind boggling in the silliness. Let’s start with the fact that military orders consistently say that you are likely to be charged a heavy bag fee and to pay it for reimbursement when you settle your travel claim. Second, in a nutshell this officer is angry because he was not treated better than every other traveling passenger. This isn’t a case where he was mistreated or singled out for anything that isn’t normal. No, he was treated just like every other American and is angry with that enough to go straight to the local media and complain. We talk often about the civil-military divide in this publication but let’s be perfectly clear, those of us who have served, serve, and our families have as much of a hand as our civilian counterparts in creating this divide. If we who serve believe that we are better than everyone else; that we deserve to have basic rules waived just for us; and that we are free to attack a private business because we weren’t treated special enough than it’s us at fault. Nothing in the oath of office for a military leader includes an expectation of special treatment for the rest of your life. We live in a time where the American public holds the military in high regard and thousands of businesses are stepping up to support our veterans and give us all benefits that are far beyond the call of duty. When that is expected and attacked for not being provided then it is us that is the problem and not the civilian side of the equation. The phrase Duty, Honor, Country – doesn’t include free upgrades and waivers for fees. Service before self doesn’t mean you can whine when you don’t get “empathy” from a gate agent. –FPW

RallyPoint Welcomes Former iRobot President, Greg White, to Advisory Board
PR Web
Continuing their initiative to bridge the gap between corporate and member interests, RallyPoint – the premier online platform “where the troops talk” – has brought on Greg White to its advisory board. As former president of iRobot, he will bring impressive experience stemmed from a prestigious career of scaling and strategic positioning to their mission. –AB

5 Reasons Why Public Events Bring Together The Military Community
Steven Weintraub (@weintraub_sd), Task and Purpose
The national nonprofit Veteran Tickets Foundation (Vet Tix) provides military personnel and their families with an opportunity to attend community events at little to no cost. Vet Tix recently released their 2016 annual survey results with critical findings linking community events to positive reintegration and re-establishing camaraderie similar to that experienced in the military community. –DD

Air Force Veteran encourages the rediscovering of Memorial Day’s true meaning
Brandon Charters (@B_Charters), VAntage Point
Over the years, the true meaning of Memorial Day has been lostto the excitement of cookouts, parades and days off from work. Brandon Charters, U.S. Air Force veteran and director of accounts for RallyPoint, shares his personal story on what Memorial Day means to him in VAntage Point’s latest blog. RallyPoint, the leading social network for military members, is calling all Americans to honor our fallen troops this Memorial Day with their #FlowerOnEveryGrave campaign. –AB

Police Officer, Combat Veteran, Muslim and J.F.K. Detainee
Nicholas Kulish (@NKulish), The New York Times
Army Reserve and Operation Inherent Resolve Veteran Major Syed Ali has faced extensive security screenings at airports, especially flights originating from countries overseas. Last month, Ali was held for hours in a screening room at JFK airport. An officerthreated to arrest him for asking how much longer the screening would take. –JG

Trump ‘is very accessible to me’: Q&A with VA Secretary David Shulkin
Bob Tedeschi (@BobTedeschi) Stat News
VA Secretary Shulkin sat down with Stat News to discuss his methods for improved efficiency and accountability that he hopes to implement at the VA. Shulkin also describes his relationships with the president and Congress, as well as how the healthcare debates could affect the VA and what they are doing to prepare. –JG

Tradeshows & Conferences

Special Operations Medical Association: SOMA 2017 Scientific Assembly (SOMSA)
(Sun – Thur, May 21-25, 2017); Charlotte Convention Center, Charlotte, NC

Society of American Military Engineers: 2017 Joint Engineer Training Conference & Expo (Tue – Fri, May 23-26, 2017); Columbus Convention Center, Columbus, OH

Congressional Hearings

Armed Services: Worldwide Threats
Who: Honorable Daniel R. Coats, Director of National Intelligence; Lieutenant General Vincent R. Stewart, USMC, Director, Defense Intelligence Agency
When: 9:30 AM, Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Where: G50 Dirksen

Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense: National Guard and Reserve Hearing
Who: General Joseph L. Lengyel, U.S. National Guard Bureau; Lieutenant General Charles D. Luckey, Chief of the Army Reserve; Vice Admiral Luke M. McCollum, Chief of the Navy Reserve; Lieutenant General Rex C. McMillam, Commander of the Marine Corps Forces Reserve; Lieutenant General Maryanne Miller, Chief of the Air Force Reserve
When: 10:00 AM, Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Where: H-140

Other Events

Armed Services Arts Partnership: Veterans Storytelling Graduation Show
Who: ASAP and Story District’s Veterans Storytelling Class
When: 7:30 PM, Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Where: Draft House Comedy, 1100 13th Street NW, Washington, DC

Armed Services Arts Partnership: Comedy Show w/ Congressional Military Mental Health Caucus
Who: Military veteran alumni of ASAP’s stand-up comedy class
When: 1:00 PM, Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Where: Cannon House Office Building, 27 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003

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, May 22, 2017 11:31 am

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