Veterans Roundup: The Military’s Opinion of the President, a New VA Program for Veterans’ Employment, and a Keyboard Warrior We Actually Respect

Posted by Fred Wellman

Support for Trump is fading among active-duty troops, new poll shows
Leo Shane III (@LeoShane), Military Times 
A new Military Times poll that obtained responses from 829 active-duty service members revealed that approval for Trump’s presidency has slipped since his election in 2016. Following the election, a similar Military Times poll indicated that 46 percent of troops supported Trump, while 37 percent did not. The most recent results indicate a more even split, with 44 percent holding a favorable view and 43 percent holding an unfavorable view.  According to Peter Feaver, one of former President George W. Bush’s advisors, “the general rule of thumb with the military is that it moves along with public opinion but lags conservative. In this case, we’re seeing military members shifting along with the public, but still staying a little more pro-Trump than the rest of the country.” More than 60 percent of respondents believe that President Trump has improved the condition of the military. –KG 
Bottom line: It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that the military is following the rest of the nation in its opinions of the President as his Administration approaches its third year. Today’s all-volunteer military is substantially more diverse than at any time in its history and hold opinions like their civilian counterparts. While those in uniform do skew conservative, the issues they worry about including those surrounding race, equal opportunity for women and the nation’s values are the very things that are creating problems for the Administration. There isn’t any joy or concern to take from this poll for anyone but it is an opportunity to recognize that the divisions that challenge our nation aren’t separate from those who serve us in uniform. They are not immune to, or ignorant of, the incredibly divisive times in which we live. If you believe in the sanctity of our military as a non-partisan organization, then seeing a poll like this should give you faith that those in service continue to represent all of us and not a select few. –FPW

Army Veteran Wages War on Social Media Disinformation
Ben Kesling (@BenKesling) and Dustin Volz (@dnvolz), The Wall Street Journal 
Army veteran Kris Goldsmith is on a campaign to identify fake Facebook accounts that target and exploit other veterans. What started after identifying one phony page, which took Facebook two months to delete, evolved into a regular commitment and has led to Goldsmith categorizing approximately 100 pages as targeting veterans with divisive political propaganda. So far, roughly two dozen of the flagged pages have been removed, with followers totaling around 20 million people. Facebook has repeatedly maintained that they are implementing more expansive efforts to counter disinformation. Through assistance from congressional aides Goldsmith has been able to communicate intermittently with Facebook regarding his findings but is still left with unanswered questions as to why some flagged pages are removed and others are not. –KG 
Bottom line: For years, politicians on both sides of the aisle have coveted veterans as a voting bloc and have consistently tried to appeal to the demographic by playing up how they have supported veterans. So it should not be terribly surprising that nefarious actors in the political arena also targeted veterans as a group. Yet, it took the singular efforts of a particularly determined advocate for veterans to notice these deceptions and take action. It’s concerning on multiple levels, not only when it comes to sowing divisive politics, but because there exists the potential for pages to take advantage of veterans on a financial or personal level. Goldsmith has unveiled a new front on which advocates must be vigilant—with previous generations the VA and AARP and other groups would warn veterans about telephone scams, but with the next generations of veterans who grew up as digital natives there are wholly new ways for bad actors to prey on veterans. As it stands, the harm done by politically motivated fake veterans pages is unquantifiable, but insidious. While no veteran thinks exactly like the next veteran, each signed up and adhered to a singular mission. That a Facebook page could begin to unravel that may speak to a greater crisis within America as a whole. –LJ 

Actors and athletes have agents to help them find work. Now vets with PTSD can too
Leo Shane III (@LeoShane), Military Times Reboot Camp
The Department of Veterans Affairs announced plans to partner with the nonprofit Social Finance to expand the use of the Individual Placement and Support program which assists veterans with mental health challenges find employment with the help of experts at VA medical centers. VA assistant secretary for enterprise integration Melissa Glynn said, “We want to make sure our veterans not only have better employment but also better overall health outcomes.” The first phase of the new program will take place in New York and Boston and aim to set 500 veterans up with success in finding a career that suits their needs. –SM 
Bottom line: The VA’s public-private sector IPS program is quite similar in purpose to the study currently being run by client Independence Project, which is seeking to understand how to improve long-term employment and quality-of-life outcomes for disabled veterans by providing them with additional training and incentives up front during their transition process in the hopes of permanently altering their economic earning potential and career trajectory. Both efforts, through the VA and Independence Project, are commendable attempts to provide targeted, intensive support to new veterans who are more likely to slip through the cracks or fall behind because of their physical and mental injuries. While it is not cost-effective in the short term to make such investments, in the long term the costs of these programs can prove to be minimal when compared to their ability to improve lives and reduce the needs a disabled veteran will have for intensive VA and other community support in 5, 10 or 20 years. The big questions for the VA are whether the program they’ve designed with Social Finance will prove to be effective, whether it will be scalable, and whether funding for the program will continue to be available as the demands and scope grow over time. Hopefully, the collective public and private sector efforts will measurably improve outcomes for disabled veterans in the coming years. –BW 

The Cohen Veterans Care Summit 2018
Cohen Veterans Network (@CohenVeterans)
The 3rd Annual Cohen Veterans Care Summit took place October 10-11 at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C. The Cohen Veterans Network and Cohen Veterans Bioscience brought together leaders in the healthcare and veteran communities to collaborate on emerging technology and ideas in mental health treatment and research. This recap highlights the events and main topics of each day. –LB 

Former Walter Reed Chief to Take Over at Troubled VA Medical Center
Richard Sisk,
VA Secretary Robert Wilkie appointed Army Col. (ret.) Michael Heimall, former chief of staff at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, as director of the Washington, D.C., VA Medical Center. The hospital has been on the VA’s “critical list,” and has been the subject of two reports cautioning that patients are at risk. Wilkie said of Heimall’s leadership and ability to continue advancements at the medical center, “Michael’s proven experience is what we need to continue to stabilize and make further improvements at the medical center.” –LB 

Military relief societies have provided more than $2.5 million in hurricane relief to troops – with more to come
Karen Jowers, Military Times 
Military relief societies provided close to $2 million following Hurricane Florence and now look to gear up to provide more assistance in the wake of Hurricane Michael. Residents of Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, which took a direct hit from Michael, benefitted from payouts of more than $600,000 by the Air Force Aid Society on Oct. 16 alone. Retired Air Force lieutenant general and CEO of the relief society, John Hopper stated: “Frankly, from what we think we know about the devastation, it’s probably not going to address all of their needs, but it will give them a chance to figure out where they’re perhaps going to light, and to gather up all the supporting agencies.” –KG 

Police With Military Experience More Likely to Shoot
Simone Weichselbaum (@SimoneJWei), The Marshall Project
According to a report published earlier this month, Dallas police officers who are veterans are more likely to discharge their firearms than those with no prior military experience. Researchers at the University of Texas School of Public Health led the study, and one professor wrote, “Results from this study suggest that veteran status, regardless of deployment history, is associated with increased odds of shootings.” While conducting the study, researchers looked through 10 years’ worth of police and military records – examining race, gender, age-range, veteran status, branch of military and deployment history. –SM 

Air Force considers transferring families away from hurricane-ravaged base in Fla.
Dan Lamothe (@DanLamothe), The Washington Post
Tyndall Air Force base took a hard-hit last week from Hurricane Michael, a Category 4 storm, resulting in a significant amount of damage. The Air Force is considering transferring airmen and their families until the base is recovered, which may take multiple years as buildings are repaired and the base’s F-22 Raptors undergo an extensive assessment. –SM 

Thank You For Your Service. Now What?
Jacqueline Detwiler (@jacquidetwiler), Popular Mechanics
Bunker Labs, a nonprofit that supports veteran entrepreneurs by offering financial and logistical help, networking events and informational classes, has helped more than 500 startups. Navy veteran Todd Connor started the nonprofit four years ago with the goal to aid in the transition between military and civilian careers.  Bunker Labs also has partnerships with a variety of organizations, including WeWork. The Veterans-in-Residence Cohort is a partnership between Bunker Labs and WeWork that allows six months of free rent and entrepreneurial resources in a WeWork communal workspace. –LB 

Community Opportunities

Independence Project: Veteran Employment 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!

Fred Wellman

Fred 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, October 22, 2018 9:59 pm

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