Veterans Roundup: VA Investigating Possible Homicides, New Military Mental Health Data Released, and More

Posted by Fred Wellman

VA secretary wants answers on string of West Virginia patient deaths as a second homicide is confirmed
Military Times, Leo Shane III (@leoshane)

Reports are coming out of the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg, West Virginia that at least one and possibly two patients were murdered at the hospital last year. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie is taking the unusual step of demanding his own independent Inspector General office quickly release their report on the suspicious deaths at the hospital that they have been investigating since last year. The deaths have come to light due to dogged pursuit of information from the family of an 81-year old veteran who died of an insulin overdose via injection when he was not a diabetic and didn’t need the medicine. Now a report has leaked that an 82-year old patient died of similar circumstances around the same time in what has been deemed a homicide. Lawmakers say there could be as many as 11 suspicious deaths tied to the facility. This is horrible news to come out of the VA, as it continues to deal with suicides on campuses and other controversies, even as the VA has data that shows improving health outcomes and increased patient satisfaction. Wilkie insists this isn’t a widespread issue; with over 400,000 employees, there are bound to be bad actors. But these reports drastically undercut the faith of veterans in the VA services and terrify families. Hopefully the IG quickly releases the information and law enforcement is pursuing the case as well. – Fred Wellman, CEO & Founder of ScoutComms

Mental Health Disorders in Troops Far Below National Average, Patricia Kime (@PatriciaKime)

While more attention has been given to the Health of the Force Study’s findings regarding military obesity, Kime drills down on the mental health component of the comprehensive survey, reporting that “mental health conditions among active-duty U.S. military personnel have remained steady over the last four years, with 8.3% of the total force diagnosed in 2018, compared with 8% in 2014,” though she later notes that a limitation to the study is the risk of underreporting, as service members may not seek care within the military health system. If the number is accurate, it is far lower than the prevalence of mental health conditions among the general public; nearly one in five adults in the U.S. experience mental illness in a given year. Notable among the findings was that women are diagnosed at higher rates than men in a given year in the military, as well as over the lifetime of their military service. Xx. Additionally, younger personnel were more likely to be diagnosed than older service members, and the Army had the highest prevalence rate at nearly 11%. These findings can be interpreted to show that no major mental health crises have arisen to drive quantitative change in the last four years, and also to emphasize the importance of making mental health care services readily available to women in the military. The Health of the Force Study is a snapshot providing valuable data, but what really matters is what DoD learns from the data and what actions it takes in response to ensure that service members who need mental health care services are able to access them without stigma or punishment. – Brian Wagner, President of ScoutComms

Court ruling could give veterans an extra year of GI Bill benefits
Military Times, Leo Shane III (@LeoShane)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims ruled this month that veterans are entitled to benefits from both the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill as long as the payouts do not occur simultaneously. The decision may entitle veterans to tuition assistance for an additional year if they qualify for payouts under both bills. It is not yet clear whether the Department of Veterans Affairs, which has argued that limiting veterans to the benefits of only one bill is necessary to ensure there is no “double-dipping,” will appeal the decision.

The Navy’s Newest Recruiting Strategy: Youtube Influencers
The Virginian-Pilot, Brock Vergakis (@BrockVergakis)

The U.S. Navy has come up with a new recruitment tactic to reach the younger generation. Capt. Matt Boren, the director of marketing and advertising for Navy Recruiting Command, discussed how they adapted to the new generation of recruits. Young people spend a large amount of their time consuming media on their smartphones, so the Navy decided to make themselves accessible. They have created a video series called “sailor vs.” that details the various jobs that the Navy has to offer, as well as how they can contribute to your individual interests. Three Youtube influencers with sizeable followings were chosen for this series, and each video ends with a link to a Navy recruiting website. The goal of this project is to get people ages 17-24 thinking of the Navy as a viable career option.

Remarks Against Antifa Prompt FBI Seizure of Ex-Marine’s Weapons Under Oregon’s ‘Red Flag’ Law
Fox News, Dom Calicchio

The FBI used Oregon’s “red flag” law to seize weapons from a former Marine who said that he had a “detailed plan on how [to] wipe out Antifa” and would “slaughter” them at a protest. The law allows law enforcement to take proactive actions to prevent violence before it happens. The FBI temporarily confiscated 5 guns, including an AR-15 rifle, from Shane Kohfield, and did not charge him with any crime. Kohfield was also committed to a VA hospital for 20 days and was barred from participating in subsequent protests in Portland. 

The Navy has fattest members of the military – but obesity rates are up across all services
Stars and Stripes, Chad Garland (@chadgarland)

Over the last four years, the military obesity rates has risen to over 17%, with the Navy having the highest rate at 22% and the Marines the lowest obesity rate at 8.3%. The Air Force obesity rate was around 18%, with the Army’s rate in the same neighborhood at 17%.  Authors of the Health of the DOD Force report said, “This report highlights obesity as a growing health concern among Sailors. Obesity contributes to hypertension, diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, all-cause mortality, and increased healthcare costs.” 

An Army first: Two sisters attain general’s rank
USA Today, Tom Vanden Brook (@tvandenbrook)

Maj. Gen. Maria Barrett and younger sister Brig. Gen. Paula Lodi are the first set of sisters to attain the general’s rank in the Army’s 244-year history. Women make up more than 16% of the military’s active-duty force of 1.3 million, and account for 69 of the 417 generals and admirals. Barrett and Lodi, daughters of a WWII veteran who received the Silver Star, are no strangers to the importance of leadership. Barrett, a Tufts University graduate, manages and defends the Army’s information network. Lodi, a West Point graduate, serves as deputy chief of staff for operations in the Army Surgeon General’s office. Gen. James McConville, the Army’s chief of staff and top officer, said, “Maj. Gen. Maria Barrett and Brig. Gen. Paula Lodi are exceptional, proven leaders who’ve distinguished themselves over the course of their careers at various levels of command … Their success showcases how talented people can find multiple pathways to success serving in the Army.”

First of its kind mental health clinic for veterans opening in Tampa Bay
WFLA, John Rogers (@wflajohn)

The Steven A Cohen Military Family Clinic at Aspire Health Partners has opened in Tampa, Florida, serving as the first of its kind clinic for military families in Florida. Clients of the clinic can receive treatment in person with child supervision available on-site, or virtually through face-to-face video therapy. Clinician Stephen McClendon said, “Many of our veterans are not prepared for that transition that they go through. Its not an easy thing, you go from a very structured, organized environment and then to civilian sector. But there is help for our veterans.”

Fred Wellman

Fred Wellman, CEO and Founder of 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 09, 2019 11:17 am

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