Veterans Roundup: VA Massively Expands Access to Private Sector Care, Voters Aren’t Excited About Veterans Running for President, and More

Posted by Fred Wellman

VA to expand veterans’ access to private medical care Thursday
Stars and Stripes, Nikki Wentling @nikkiwentling
Welcome to Mission Act America. In the last 24 hours, the number of veterans receiving care from the VA who are eligible to seek treatment from private sector providers has expanded five-fold. It is estimated that approximately 3.8 million veteran patients can now seek outside treatment if they meet the basic qualifications, which are that they must drive more than 30 minutes to reach their VA mental health or primary care providers or wait longer than 20 days for an appointment. The overnight expansion is the source of several concerns from major VSOs, who worry about three key issues. One, how much will the expansion cost and will an increase in private sector costs chip away at the VA’s budget for internal activities, resulting in de facto privatization? Two, if more providers are seeing veterans in the private sector, how does the VA ensure that they are providing high-quality care given the limited possibility for oversight? And third, what happens if there are major technical and systemic problems in the expansion that cause harm to veterans? The VA has not yet assuaged those concerns to the satisfaction of some VSOs, so it is clear that groups like the VFW and DAV will be closely studying the rollout so that they can call out problems and errors that threaten to harm veterans in the coming months. Congress, especially the House Veterans Affairs Committee, is also likely to provide aggressive oversight of the implementation of the Mission Act’s permissive new standards for seeking private sector care. The VA believe that unlike under the Choice Act, when it underestimated how much money it would need, it has a predictive model in place at this time that will ensure the department will not need any emergency requisitions from Congress or significant reallocations of resources from other VA funding sources. Stay tuned. – Brian Wagner, President of ScoutComms

The first post-9/11 vets are running for president. Do voters care?
Politico, Jacqueline Feldscher (@jacqklimas)
There are now three candidates running in the crowded Democratic Party field for President who are post-9/11 veterans: Seth Moulton, Tulsi Gabbard and Pete Buttigieg. A recent survey from Morning Consult is showing potential voters don’t seem to care as they once might have.  Only 36% said military experience was important for their party’s nominee, while 69% are looking for political experience and over half said it simply wasn’t important at all to be a veteran. In many ways it’s really not surprising based on the demographic shift in the nation. None of the last four Presidents were veterans, beyond G.W. Bush’s time in the Air Guard, as opposed to fully eight of the previous ones. In this era the military is highly regarded in most polls but most Americans don’t even know anyone serving or have a veteran in their family. Approximately 7% of the population are veterans now and that number is falling by nearly 30,000 a month, so it seems only natural that while military service is appreciated, it isn’t a necessity to the average American. While all three candidates are pushing the impact that their combat duty has had on their worldview and policies it is the long-time politicians and known names who are currently sitting on top of the polls. As we move further away from having had a President who served it will increasingly be less important as a key decision point for voters and more of a differentiator from the pack and their opponents. As the field narrows it will be interesting to see if military service helps them break from the pack. In the end, the veterans community is well served and happy to see a few of the 4 million of us who have volunteered in the last 18 years of war to be in the fight for the Commander-in-Chief role. On a side note…congratulations to Jacqueline Feldscher (formerly Klimas) on her recent wedding. We wish you the very best! – Frederick P. Wellman, CEO & Founder of ScoutComms

90,000 ‘blue water’ Vietnam veterans in line for disability benefits after Justice officials drop appeal
Military Times, Leo Shane III (@LeoShane)
Blue Water Navy veterans will finally be awarded disability benefits after the Department of Justice dropped their appeal of the federal court decision in Procopio vs. Wilkie. These veterans have claimed they were exposed to cancer-causing chemical defoliants during their service in the seas near Vietnam. The January decision of Procopio vs. Wilkie overturned years worth of policy that denied these veterans disability benefits.

The Army ignored her warnings about a dangerous colleague. Then he set her on fire
Task and Purpose, James Clark (@JamesWClark)
After repeatedly warning her supervisors that she felt unsafe, Katie Blanchard was set on fire by colleague Clifford Currie. Blanchard, who supervised Currie at Munson Army Health Center, reported his aggressive behavior multiple times, but was told to “come back with facts, not emotion.” Blanchard survived the attack, but suffered many third degree burns. Blanchard is now seeking claims for damages, alleging that her supervisors could have prevented the attack by taking action on her earlier warnings. The Army is denying the claims, citing the Feres Doctrine, which “bars service members and their families from suing the military for injury or death brought on by their service.”

Website matches veteran entrepreneurs with businesses
Stars and Stripes, Nikki Wentling (@nikkiwentling)
Retired Marine Corps Maj. Charles “Lynn” Lowder and restaurateur Dale Eisenburg have co-founded the Veteran Business Project, a nonprofit in Illinois for veterans who want to own businesses and for business owners wanting to sell. A 2017 Small Business Credit Survey stated that thirty-six percent of veteran-owned businesses experienced challenges obtaining capital, compared to 30 percent of nonveteran businesses. Lowder and Eisenburg aim to combat that access to capital through the unique means the Veteran Business Project can provide by offering connection to successful businesses and mentorship.

Study Aims to Show Why Some Veterans Go Hungry, Patricia Kime (@patriciakime)
Nipa Kamdar, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Houston’s Department of Health and Human Performance, used an interesting form of qualitative research called photo elicitation to let veterans explain their challenges through photographing objects. The research was funded by the William T. Grant Foundation, a nonprofit focused on reducing inequality among children and youth. Due to previous research showing that a quarter of post-9/11 veterans have experienced some form of food insecurity, Kamdar’s research has been aimed at highlighting the many obstacles that lead to veterans experiencing food insecurity in order to call for greater change.

Advocates worry that the public will forget about homeless veterans
Military Times, Leo Shane III, (@LeoShane)
Though there are public figures with the goal of ending homelesness among veterans, advocates worry that the public is not as driven as they were back in 2016, when then-President Barack Obama had citizens excited about reaching this goal. This year’s National Coalition for Homeless Veterans conference hosted Secretary Ben Carson and Secretary Robert Wilkie, who spoke about the work that still needs to be done in ending veteran homelessness.

‘Don’t ask, don’t tell 2.0’: LGBTQ veterans share experiences with homelessness, discrimination and discharge
Connecting Vets, Abbie Bennett (@AbbieRBennett)
Last week at the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans annual conference, attendees heard from veterans and other stakeholders during one particular panel discussion, “Serving LGBTQ Veterans.” One speaker, Army veteran and contractor for the Veterans Administration, Sara Simone, shared the unique struggles LGBTQ veterans face regarding homelessness.

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, June 10, 2019 11:12 am

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