Veteran’s Roundup: Women in MARSOC, VA Wait Times, Collaborating to Prevent Veteran Suicide, Why Veterans Miss War So Much, and More

Posted by Fred Wellman

In Corpus Christi, Veterans Still Facing Long Waits at Clinics
Alana Rocha (@viaAlana), The Texas Tribune
The situation in Corpus Christi is a microcosm of the national debates over VA healthcare, as increased budgets cannot keep pace with increased demand for care, nor can money alone ensure that the VA can find and hire qualified medical providers—particularly specialists—in the region. The local VA spokesperson quoted in the story helps contextualize why the VA Choice program matters to his region, and also makes clear why Congress and the VA need to succeed in enacting legislation that would let the VA consolidate and streamline its community care programs. There are no clear good guys or bad guys in the story, though the testimonials from local providers make clear that the VA absolutely must fix its community care reimbursement system in order to regain their trust and maximize their participation. The local actors in Corpus Christi are doing their best in an imperfect situation, but they won’t be able to fully resolve their problems—and support all of the area’s qualified veterans—without the benefit of substantial reform at the national level. –BW

McCain: New Suicide Prevention Initiative for Veterans Can Be Model for Nationwide Effort
John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) for Military Times
In an op-ed for Military Times, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) notes that while passing the Clay Hunt SAV Act was important to moving the needle on preventing veteran suicide, it was not enough. Here, he highlights the pilot program he helped initiate on the local level in Arizona. The program fosters collaboration among the VA, state-level agencies, and local veteran-serving groups that are working with veterans every day. In the piece, McCain notes one of the most underappreciated statistics in veteran suicide data: that most veterans who commit suicide aren’t in the VA system. So that collaboration becomes even more important to shepherd veterans at the local level into the VA. This kind of collaboration shouldn’t be unusual, it should be the norm on the national and local level. More proven solutions, whether it’s technological or a new model of care, need to be brought in and adopted from the organizations and companies directly working with veterans in a given community. We know local VA medical centers sometimes have good relationships with the organizations in their communities, but too often they are hamstrung by bureaucracy or inertia to take the next steps towards partnership. Hopefully with the political will of a respected leader like Sen. McCain more collaborations like this one will arise. And with more collaboration and more open doors for veterans, hopefully fewer will have first-hand experience with suicide the way Kris Goldsmith does. –LJ

One of Two Female Marines Remains in MARSOC Training
Jeff Schogol (@JeffSchogol), Marine Corps Times
It’s important not to read too much into any story about a small number of service women struggling to enter elite military units such as MARSOC, just like it was important to not assume that three women graduating from Army Ranger School ensured an ensuing flood of women graduates. Progress will take time, and service women will now have to start thinking about and preparing for elite challenges at an earlier point in their training and military service to ensure that they are maximizing their ability to compete. Outgoing USMC assistant commandant, Gen. Jay Paxton, noted in a recent interview that the issue is “to make sure that the women who aspire to be in those [military occupational specialties] can perform the standard.” Yet despite all the progress, impediments still exist that could prevent new service women from achieving their full potential. As Kate Germano, the COO of the Service Women’s Action Network and a recent USMC retiree, notes in a recent article: “For too long, the Marine Corps has turned a blind eye to female screening and preparation, resulting in extraordinarily high attrition at boot camp and the perception that female recruits are physiologically and mentally incapable of achieving more than the bare minimum.” Germano would know, as she used to be in command of the Corps’ female recruits at Parris Island. She notes that recruiters need to set a higher bar for the women they try to bring into the Corps, and that once women join the Corps, they need to experience more stringent training methods to ensure that they are in a position to meet high standards in any job in the future. –BW

Why Vets Come Home and Miss the War
Kimberly Dozier (@KimDozier), The Daily Beast
Kim Dozier has been around the military a long time and her take on Sebastian Junger’s new book “Tribe” comes with a deep well of understanding of the unique nature of war and those who experience it. She sat down with Junger and spoke with a range of experts and veterans about his take on the nature of human interaction and how those who experience war fit into that ancient need humans feel for a close connection to a circle of others. Much of the book is really about anthropology and Junger’s belief that we in modern society have lost our tribal connection and that drives many of the difficulties we face. For those who have been to war, especially close combat, the disconnect upon returning is most pronounced. For with all its horrors, physical challenges, and the forced nature of being bonded to fellow troops you may not even like – war still provides a tribe built around the common knowledge that those around you will give their life for yours when asked. Junger has seen more combat than many who have fought and he claims this will be his last book on the subject. We’ve heard that before from others too but the draw to the sound of the guns can be hard to resist. –FPW

Pentagon is Closer to Extending a Generous Benefit to Millions of Veterans
Karen Jowers (@KarenJowers), Military Times
Reports indicate that the Defense Department’s Executive Resale Board voted unanimously on August 9 to recommend a policy change that would extend online shopping through the DOD’s military exchange system to honorably discharged veterans. Currently, exchange privileges are only available to active duty service members, National Guard, Reservists, their families, retirees, and 100% disabled veterans. While it won’t include access to brick and mortar stores, it will give many more access to the low priced name brands now available to only about 10% of the 20.9 million veterans in the country. The bonus is that by increasing sales it will have a significant impact on the Morale and Welfare programs for active duty service members and their families while ultimately saving the DOD money. Truly the kind of win-win situation that so often eludes the government in their efforts. Rumors are that the Exchange hopes to launch the new access by Veterans Day 2017. Let’s hope this one plays out. ­–FPW

Client News:

USAA Redefines its Corporate Philanthropy
Annette Crawford (@thegroovygringa), Rivard Report
USAA recently announced a shift in its corporate philanthropy: a new, more defined focus on military family resiliency through support of military caregivers and families of the fallen, financial readiness for troops, and transition assistance as service members move from the military to civilian life. In addition to efforts supporting military family resiliency, USAA is also announcing a new initiative allowing its employees more flexibility in the organizations they support through USAA’s giving campaign. To learn more about USAA’s new focus, and the great work they’re doing for our military community and locally in San Antonio and other communities they serve, read the full article. –MC

UT Opens Veterans Resource Center On Campus
Student veterans at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville are opening up a brand new space for student veterans on campus. The students recently received a $4,784 Student Veterans of America Vet Center Initiative grant, sponsored by The Home Depot Foundation, and used the funding to furnish the center, where student veterans will be able to “escape to a place with like-minded people.” –MC

Help Alaska Veterans Pursue Meaningful Careers
Eric Eversole (@EricEversoleHOH), Daily News-Miner
Hiring Our Heroes went to Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks, Alaska to continue national efforts to support the hiring of veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses. Hiring Our Heroes is leading the efforts to help veterans find meaningful careers by hosting hiring events all over the US. To find out if a hiring event is coming to city near you, visit the Hiring Our Heroes website. –JG
Other Coverage:
Military Transition Summit: Day 1
KTVF NBC Fairbanks

Hiring Fair for Military Spouses to be Held at Fort Campbell
Krystle Callais (@krystlecallais), WPSD
Military spouses face unique challenges when searching for employment. Looking to break the cycle of unemployment for military spouses, Hiring Our Heroes hosted a military spouse hiring event at Fort Campbell focused on connecting military spouses with employers who understand their situations and want to hire them. Visit the Hiring Our Heroes Military Spouse program website to learn more. –JG

Marine Vet Gets to be Roadie for Rock Band KISS at Illinois State Fair
John Reynolds (@JohnReynoldsSJR), The State Journal-Register
KISS has partnered with Hiring Our Heroes to hire one local veteran or service member to work backstage at each KISS concert on its 2016 ‘Freedom to Rock’ Tour. KISS has also donated $150,000 to Hiring Our Heroes to support the organization’s daily efforts to connect all members of the military community with meaningful civilian employment opportunities. –JG
Other Coverage:
KISS Brings Freedom to Rock Tour to State Fair on Friday
Kelley Simms (@simmsbury), The Des Moines Register

Networks Live! Brings Military Spouses Together, Helps Establish a Foundation
Drew Brooks (@DrewBrooks), The Fayetteville Observer
On Thursday, dozens of military spouses came together at a networking event for military spouses in Fayetteville called Networks Live!, a program of Blue Star Families. At the event, military spouses from Fort Bragg and the Fayetteville-area met with local business leaders and other career-minded spouses. Blue Star Families hosts several events each month across the nation for military spouses and caregivers. To learn more visit –MC  
Other Coverage:
Jobs Forums for Military Spouses Planned in Fayetteville
The Associated Press

University of Arizona Hosts Warrior-Scholar Boot Camp
Mark Brodie (@markwbrodie), KJZZ
The Warrior Scholar Project is a two-week academic boot camp for enlisted veterans hosted at more than a dozen of the highest ranked universities around the country. WSP prepares them for an academic career at a four-year university by helping them build and hone critical reading and writing skill and also offers tips and for the non-academic challenges veterans might face like time management. Learn more about WSP on their website! –JG

National Military Family Association and Veteran Tickets Foundation Announce Partnership
Vet Tix, a national nonprofit that provides free event tickets to service members and veterans, announced a new partnership with the National Military Family Association (NMFA) today. NMFA is a nonprofit that works to strengthen and protect military families. The partnership seeks to give back to the military community by offering them free access to entertainment and sports events. –AB

Quick Hits:

Record Numbers of Female Vets Strain System
Asha Anchan, Kelsey Hightower and Caitlin Cruz (@caitlinrcruz), Huntington News
Women not only have to prove their worth to be accepted as a service member, but when they return to civilian life as well. This is evident in the kinds of condescending questions they are asked about their service, lack of treatment options at some VA medical centers, and difficulties finding or maintaining meaningful employment. As there are record-breaking numbers of female service members, standards for respect and care need to catch up, fast. –AB

Trump and Clinton to Speak at the American Legion Convention
Leo Shane (@LeoShane), Military Times
Veteran program reforms are a key topic this election season – one that will be revisited by presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, respectively, at the American Legion’s national convention (and again at a town hall meeting convened by IAVA). Leo covers what the candidates have said in past public appearances as a preview for what may come. –AB

HUD Certifies Austin Has Ended Homelessness Among Veterans
James Barragan (@James_Barragan), The Austin-American Statesman
The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced last week that Austin has become the third major city in Texas to end veteran homelessness. The city now has an effective system to house veterans who may become homeless in the future, and ensure any veteran’s homelessness is brief. –MC  

Inmates Made Defective Combat Helmets for U.S. troops – and No One Was Prosecuted
Dan Lamothe (@DanLamothe), The Washington Post
Hundreds of thousands of defective Federal Prison Industries (FPI)-produced combat helmets have been recalled. Charges were not filed and no one was prosecuted, but Pentagon officials are still conducting research as to whether the faulty gear caused any deaths or injuries. –AB 
Tradeshows & Conferences:

American Legion 98th National Convention (Fri-Thurs, August 26 – September 1); Duke Energy Convention Center, Cincinnati, OH

Congressional Hearings:

Congress is in recess.

Think Tanks & Other Events:

No events this week.

For a full list of upcoming events, visit our website.

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, August 22, 2016 9:13 am

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