Veterans Roundup: What’s Next for the VA Secretary Position, Advances in Medical Technology, “Terminal Lance”, and More

Posted by Fred Wellman

GORUCK Selects ScoutComms as Agency of Record to Get More People Rucking
ScoutComms (@ScoutComms)
ScoutComms is proud to announce its newest client: leading manufacturer of military-grade gear and apparel, GORUCK. The new collaboration will raise awareness of GORUCK’s product and event offerings to ultimately get even more people rucking. Since 2008, GORUCK has strengthened communities by conducting team-building endurance events that simulate the training and conditions of Army Special Forces. As GORUCK’s first-ever agency of record, ScoutComms will contribute to GORUCK’s goal of getting people of all ages and backgrounds to embrace rucking as a fitness activity and lifestyle. –DD

Ronny Jackson withdraws as Trump’s nominee to lead Veterans Affairs, but he remains under scrutiny
Lisa Rein (@Reinlwapo), Dan Lamothe (@DanLamothe) and David Nakamura (@DavdNakamura), The Washington Post
Allegations of misconduct and escalating bipartisan calls for additional investigations led Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson to withdraw his nomination for secretary of the VA on Thursday. While Jackson vehemently denies the allegations levied against him, more than two dozen unprompted whistleblowers stepped forward citing instances of excessive alcohol use, one culminating in crashing a government vehicle while intoxicated, and misuse of prescription drugs. Trump administration officials maintain that Jackson will return to his post as the White House physician, but his career remains in question as congressional Democrats state they will not consider his nomination for a second star until he is cleared of these allegations by a Pentagon investigation. President Trump claims to have a replacement candidate in mind, but no front-runners to lead the country’s second largest government agency have been announced. –KG
Bottom line: If you feel like you have whiplash after the last week or two, you are not alone. Rear Adm. Jackson’s nomination was an uphill battle from the start due to his lack of experience managing an organization any larger than 70 personnel so his nomination to lead the second largest federal agency of 370,000 employees, a $1.2 billion budget and providing healthcare and support to more than nine million enrolled veterans was a bit of an outlier. Without more details and further investigation it’s hard to know if these allegations are true but, frankly, Jackson’s public statements don’t sound like a guy who cares much about his subordinates to someone who has served in the military. This situation will likely serve as yet another bullet point in the discussions of toxic leadership in the military and its effect on the mission. If he was as good as his resume appears, it seems hard to believe that some two-dozen former subordinates would seek out the Senate to offer condemnation of his leadership. For now, veterans and their advocates once again find themselves waiting to see who might be named Secretary of VA with little indication who that might be and an acting Secretary who named one of his priorities as “restoring normal order” to the agency. It’s hardly a glowing commentary on the management of an agency when the priorities include getting things not to be a giant train wreck. We know some incredible employees, career leaders and others at VA who are spectacularly good people who deserve good leadership and are thankful they continue to provide support to our veterans even as the drama unfolds. –FPW

Five candidates to be the next VA secretary nominee
Leo Shane III (@LeoShane), The Military Times
Following President Trump’s firing of former VA Secretary David Shulkin, the administration nominated Rear Adm. and White House Physician Ronny Jackson to serve as the department’s new leader. Amid allegations of misconduct, Jackson withdrew his nomination this week. Insiders have named Robert Wilkie, the current acting VA secretary and the Department of Defense’s Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness, a potential choice for the Trump Administration. Jeff Miller, a Republican and former congressman from Florida, served as an advisor on the Trump 2016 presidential campaign. He lacks military experience, but actively criticized the Obama administration’s handling of VA department affairs. Notably, Miller worked to design the VA Choice program as chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Rick Perry, the current Energy Department Secretary, has said he’s not interested in leading the VA, but may be a leading choice for the Trump administration. An Air Force veteran and former governor, the Senate confirmed his Energy Department nomination by a 62-37 vote. Pete Hegseth, a host of “Fox & Friends,” and an Iraq War veteran may also be in the running to replace Shulkin. He doesn’t hold a role in the Trump administration but has advised the president on veterans issues. Lastly, Trump’s next choice to lead the VA may be someone we haven’t heard of; perhaps the Trump administration will name a candidate outside the public eye. –NJ
Bottom line: Whether it’s Wilkie, Miller, Perry, Hegseth, or someone you’ve never heard of, the nominee will have a very fine line to walk and a no doubt a very arduous confirmation process, not only because the midterm elections are nearly upon us, but in part due to the fallout from the nomination process of Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson. Because of this, the nominee will have to demonstrate not only that they have the leadership experience and policy chops to survive a confirmation hearing, but also that they can survive a senatorial vetting. Choosing a person with military experience would certainly be an added bonus, as it could potentially ease the confirmation process, and provide a certain relatability, while demonstrating their investment. Until President Trump tweets, we sit, and wait and speculate. –CB

‘Whole Again’: A Vet Maimed by an I.E.D. Receives a Transplanted Penis
Denise Grady (@nytDeniseGrady), New York Times
A veteran recently underwent surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital to repair damage to his genitals caused by stepping on an IED. The patient received a transplanted penis, scrotum and a portion of abdominal wall from an organ donor. The veteran wished to remain anonymous because of the stigma associated with genital injuries, but he said it makes him feel whole again. Prior to the procedure, he struggled with the thought of being alone and felt he had lost his manhood. It is unclear how many individuals are in need of this transplant, but statistics from the Defense Department indicate that out of 1,300 men with genitourinary injuries from Iraq and Afghanistan, 31 percent involve the penis. –SM
Bottom line: In December 2015, we highlighted in the Scout Report a New York Times article about doctors at Johns Hopkins preparing to do the first penis transplant. The hope then was that the surgery would be performed “soon” for the first veteran as doctors had permission to operate on 60 of the more than 1,300 veterans with the need. The hope now is that each of the veterans waiting for future surgeries don’t have to wait two years for the next opportunity for an operation. Medical advances like these will make a higher quality of life available for so many veterans, and the next logical step will be to support the continued availability of IVF services to these same veterans with genital injuries. –LJ

A Comic Strip About the Marines: The Few, The Proud, The Bored Out of Their Minds
C.J. Chivers (@cjchivers), The New York Times
Maximilian Uriate, a former Lance Corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps turned illustrator of the comic “Terminal Lance,” has published more than 800 comics, as well as a best-selling graphic novel in 2016. Uriate joined the Corps at 19, with the hopes of one day pursuing a career in illustration. After failing to promote before his enlistment ended in 2010 (the definition of a terminal lance corporal), Uriate began writing and channeling his voiceless and disgruntled fellow junior Marines. The characters developed by Uriate, often anxious, lonely and bored, offer a stark contrast to the picture of stoic duty presented by the Corps. Uriate attributes the success of the comic, which boasts more than 690,000 followers on Facebook, to the honesty and relatability of the content. Even though the author does face occasional criticism from senior Marines, the Commandant of the Marine Corps doesn’t see an issue: “If you are a grunt and can’t laugh at this stuff, you’d go crazy. Every time I see his comic I read it. If nothing else it makes you ponder his point, or just laugh out loud,” said Gen. Robert Neller. –KG
Bottom line: “Terminal Lance” and Uriate stand out from other loud veteran voices for being so independent. In an increasingly divided America (and even veteran community at time), “Terminal Lance” unites through the humor of shared boredom/combat/combat-boredom even across branches. Of course, if you read TL, you know Uriate never shies away from any hot button issue whether it’s women in the infantry, transgender troops, guns in schools, or parades and, in keeping with his independent streak, both sides of any given issue might end up flaming him on Twitter. TL is refreshing in its levity and ability to stay above the ruckus caused by the Veteran Anger Machine™. And how many mediums offer characters that both veterans and civilians can connect with, either as reflections of themselves or to gain a better understanding of the unique experience of military service. –LJ

EXECUTIVE PERSPECTIVE: The Greatest Challenge – Saving the Planet and Our People
Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen (@bvandahlen), Thomson Reuters
In a recent op-ed inspired by Earth Day, Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, Ph.D – Founder and President of client Give an Hour (the lead organization of the Campaign to Change Direction) – looks back on meeting Kathleen Rogers – President of the Earth Day Network – last December in Rome. They attended Pope Francis’s second encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for our Common Home with a shared goal “to build profitable and sustainable businesses that reflect the Pope’s vision.” Van Dahlen and Rogers came to the conclusion that the power of nature and emotional wellbeing go hand-in-hand, and that collaboration is necessary for progress on both fronts. –AB

Veterans are in a new battle – to entice millennials to join their groups
Tim Smith (@TimSmithMP), Hometown Life
Veteran Service Organizations like Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) have had a recurring problem of getting younger veterans involved with their chapters and events. While the common notion is that organizations that have been around for years, such as VFW, primarily serve veterans of older generations, that is simply not the case. VFW chapters across the nation have been focusing heavily on their recruiting efforts to get younger veterans involved and feeling welcome. This month, the national nonprofit Veteran Tickets Foundation (Vet Tix) and VFW partnered to offer free community tickets to entertainment, sporting and events in the arts to all branches of currently serving military and veterans. Getting more veterans and service members connected with their peers and involved in their communities is core to the mission at Vet Tix and VFW. –DD

Women veterans group establishes new chapter
Katie Davis Skelley (@katiedskelley), Redstone Rocket
Pro bono client Women Veterans Interactive, founded by former homeless disabled veteran Ginger Miller, has one key goal: “To meet female service members and veterans at their points of need, through its AEIOU mission: advocacy, empowerment, interaction, outreach and unification.” The organization has chapters doing incredible work nationwide, and now a group in Huntsville, Alabama has joined their ranks by meeting community service and membership initiative requirements. –AB

Pentagon on PROSPER
Andrew Kreighbaum (@kreighbaum), Inside Higher Ed
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Defense delivered a document stating opposition to the PROSPER Act, as House Republicans were planning on overhauling the Higher Education Act to eliminate the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Recently, veterans organizations began circulating the document in hopes of blocking the PROSPER Act from moving forward. Client Student Veterans of America’s Vice President of Government Affairs, Will Hubbard, says that the Pentagon’s opposition should create a roadblock for the bill in Congress. –SM

Congressional Hearings

No hearings this week.

Tradeshows and Conferences 

Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International: AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2018 (Mon – Thur, April 30 – May 3, 2018); Colorado Convention Center, Denver, CO

Community Opportunities 

Veterans in Global Leadership:

Apply to be a 2018-2019 VGL Fellow
Who: Student veteran candidates with a passion for service, a commitment to assist other veterans, an entrepreneurial spirit and proven leadership skills.
When: Application deadline is April 30, 2018

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, April 30, 2018 11:32 am

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