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The Scout Report 335th Edition

The Scout Report 335th Edition

Military Families and Veterans News and Analysis

Monday, September 18, 2017

 

The smell of pumpkin spice is in the air as September chugs along like me on a Monday morning with PSL in hand. That means, gulp, AUSA is just around the corner.

In this week’s Scout Report, we contend with the dearth of veterans news and cover a few recent stories about military installation and personnel issues. Next week, look for our take on the VA’s Fridaynight news dump of its expanded data on suicide.

Want to engage with experts on the latest in brain health? Sign up to attend the free Cohen Care Summit, Igniting the Spark, on September 27. The free, half-day event put on by our client Cohen Veterans Bioscience brings together researchers, advocates, and even Secretary Shulkin. Register today–LJ 

 

Tradeshows & Conferences:
Air Force Association: Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition 2017 (Mon – Wed, Sept. 18-20, 2017); Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, National Harbor, MD

Marine Military Expos: Modern Day Marine 2017 (Tue – Thur, Sept. 19-21, 2017); Marine Corps Base Quantico, Quantico, VA

Invictus: Invictus Games Toronto 2017 (Sat – Sat, Sept. 23-30, 2017); Toronto, Ontario Canada

MilBlogging and ScoutComms: Military Influencer Conference(Sun – Tue, Oct. 22-24, 2017); Sheraton Dallas Hotel, Dallas, TX

 

Congressional Hearings:
None this week.

 

Other Events:
None this week.

 

ScoutComms News:

ScoutComms Honored as ‘Best for the World’ Company Creating Most Positive Customer Impact
For the second year in a row, we have been named a “Best for the World” company by B Corporation’s B Lab! We are among 846 Certified B Corporations named a 2017 Best for the World Honoree, and our specific category recognizes ScoutComms for creating the most positive overall impact on our customers. This is just one honor of many that we’ve received since becoming a certified B Corp in June 2015. –AB

Military and Veteran Issues:

Pentagon is still preparing for global warming even though Trump said to stop
Tara Copp (@TaraCopp), Military Times
Despite President Trump’s orders in March to revoke all efforts relating to climate change, the military continues to prepare for future major climate changes. Previously enforced by President Obama, the 2014 “climate change roadmap” published by the Defense Department planned for more frequent and severe natural disasters, especially those that would impact critical military bases. Proved by the recent Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, military readiness can be gravely impacted by such natural disasters. Although there was luckily minimal damage, Naval Air Station Corpus Christi anticipated a direct hit from Harvey and is now developing a plan for future hurricanes. –DD 
Bottom line: The military is taking a prudent approach to all of this. In the end it doesn’t matter why the climate may be changing or even if it is. The facts are that there are a lot of big storms that seem to be hitting our bases, many Navy bases regularly find areas of their property flooding now as tides grow higher, and the U.S. military is being called upon to support civil relief missions like Irma and Harvey more than ever before. How we got here is certainly capable to be left to others but as an organization that deals in facts and reality…well…it is what it is. There is no option to call it “fake news” and hope it goes away when 30,000 troops are deployed across the southern U.S. saving civilians swamped by record storms. Semantics are fine but facts are a funny thing. You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own facts so preparing and adjusting for the facts is the only option we have. Let’s leave the politics to sort that out elsewhere and worry about people drowning today. –FPW 

U.S. Army kills contracts for hundreds of immigrant recruits. Some face deportation.
Alex Horton (@AlexHortonTX), The Washington Post
Recruiters for the U.S. Army recently revoked several enlistment contracts for hundreds of immigrant recruits. A program that claimed to fast-track citizenship for immigrant enlistees has proven to be extremely laborious, and the recruiters themselves are claiming they are dropping contracts to focus on enlistees who are able to quickly onboard. Some recruits were notified by text message and others were not notified at all of this major change. While the military claims to benefit from immigrant recruits who bring a host of skills to the table, they argue that recruiters must deal with several regulations and security clearances that can slow down processing. Those whose contracts have been ended and did not receive legal citizenship now fear deportation is next. –DD 
Bottom line: Interestingly, after Alex called several recruiters to verify facts, immigrant recruits saw their fortunes change and their contracts back in good standing. It’s almost as if this is a problem of the Army’s own making and easily fixable. With the fears immigrant recruits are already facing given the uncertain future of the program under which many enlisted and the general atmosphere about immigrants in America, it seems particularly cruel to add unnecessary anxiety. We firmly believe in building and maintaining a strong military, and that means bringing in the abilities of immigrants while also giving them the best training in what it means to be American. The increased media attention on this issue surely is keeping the Army honest, whether at the recruiter level or Big Army. Unfortunately, without legislation, and congressional compromise, these issues won’t be getting more clarity any time soon. We fully anticipate advocates to ensure Congress doesn’t forget its role in supporting these troops. –LJ 

Are transgender military members more suicidal than others? A careful look at the data puts that in doubt.
Michael Flynn (@MeflynnPolSci) The Washington Post
According to President Trump, the higher presence of “suicidality” among transgender service members poses a threat to national security. However, according to associate professor Michael Flynn from Kansas State, there are many reasons we should be hesitant to make such claims with such a profound lack of good data on the issue. Flynn highlights huge variations in the definition of “suicidality” and the problem of comparing data from studies with different types of samples. Lastly, he says that with an already extensive mental health screening process in place, we can’t suddenly say that these processes work for one group of recruits but somehow don’t work for another. –JG
Bottom line: As with all political debates, groups and individuals on both sides of an issue often scramble to find data that supports a particular opinion. The debate about the inclusion or exclusion of transgender individuals from military service is no different. Interpreting data however can be tricky, and in the case of claims that transgender service members have a higher rate of suicidality has raised the hackles of some advocates and academics. Suicide is a complex public health issue that impacts all Americans, not just those with a particular type of background or identity. As Flynn notes in his article, white males have higher rates of suicide than most any other group but this doesn’t keep white men from serving. The importance of comparing the same kinds of data collected in the same way cannot be underrated—especially as it relates to mental health. When comparing data or using data to support an opinion or make a conclusion, one must understand that small sample sizes, selection bias or incomparable definitions can render this information unhelpful, if not completely prejudicial. –RB

Client News:

Global War on Terror Memorial Foundation Announces $1 Million Donation at Inaugural Fundraising Dinner
PRWeb.com
The Global War on Terror Memorial Foundation’s (GWOTMF) mission is to coordinate efforts in building a memorial on the National Mall in Washington D.C. to honor our fallen warriors in our nation’s longest war. On September 12, they hosted their inaugural fundraising dinner in Washington, D.C. where Andrew Brennan, founder and executive director of GWOTMF, was presented a $1 million check from Rear Admiral Thomas Lynch (retired), executive chairman of NewDay USA and Rob Posner, CEO of NewDay USA. This inaugural dinner was dedicated to recognizing veterans and fallen service members who supported our nation’s longest war, and intended to raise funds toward the full cost of the GWOT memorial, its design and construction. The GWOT Memorial is a pro bono client of ScoutComms, our CEO Fred Wellman is a member of the Board of Advisors and we were proud sponsors of this first ever fundraising dinner for the organization and their important mission.  –CB

Winning Battles: It’s Not Just About the Battlefield
Dakota Meyer (@Dakota_Meyer) Huffington Post
Medal of Honor Recipient Dakota Meyer was a sniper while he was active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps.  He wasn’t concerned with how his skills would translate in the private sector until he was scrambling to find a job during one of the worst periods of veteran unemployment. While there are required workforce transition programs and seminars in the military, many service members put off preparing until the last minute, and many do not take the advice they are given seriously. This is why Meyer has partnered with Hiring Our Heroes, an initiative run by U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, which hosts hiring events all over the country helping veterans that are looking for jobs. To find out if a hiring event is coming to a city near you, visit the Hiring Our Heroes website–JG

Student veteran draws support for War on Terror memorial – with help from his beard
Meredith Roaten (@Meremorphosis), The GW Hatchet George Chewning, a second-year MBA student and director of governmental affairs for the Global War on Terror Memorial Foundation, helped pass a bill to create a memorial for those who have lost their lives during the War on Terror. After returning about a year ago from a deployment in Afghanistan as an Army operations planner, Chewning was eager to join the foundation and advocate for why it was so important to memorialize fallen soldiers and educate people about the war. Now that their legislation has passed, the Global War on Terror Memorial Foundation’s mission is to get the projected $40 million memorial built. The group wants to involve as many veterans as possible in the process of designing the monument and selecting a site on the Mall. For more information on how you can help, visit www.gwotmemorialfoundation.orgCB 

Quick Hits:

Recruiting a generation with no memory of September 11th
Tara Copp (@TaraCopp), Military Times
18-year-old Cadi Herman and her 21-year-old twin brothers, Dominic and Maverick Herman, will be joining the Navy. They are just a few of the many millennial-generation recruits that will have signed up over the last decade that will have had no recollection of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Gone are the days of convincing motivated, new recruits based on their memories of Sept. 11. Now, recruits like the Hermans are more attracted to join because of opportunities for travel and the ability to pay for school. Although the motivation of patriotism and strong family ties has still been effective, a variety of other reasons that include educational benefits have been a key attraction for new recruits to join the military. –ML 

These Women Are the Last Thing Standing Between You and Nuclear War
Danielle McNally (@DaniSMcNally), Marie Claire
The female officers who monitor and control our country’s assembly of 450 nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missiles, work rotating 24-hour shifts, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Their mission is to ensure that the world’s most powerful weapons are reliable and ready to launch at any given time. The course and prerequisites to be chosen as a “missileer” are rigorous and extensive. With lingering threats from North Korea of a nuclear war, it is reassuring that “only those personnel who have demonstrated the highest degree of individual reliability for allegiance, trustworthiness, conduct, behavior, and responsibility shall be allowed to perform duties associated with nuclear weapons.” –CB

U.S. Probes High-Pressure Mortgage Sales Targeting Veterans
Joe Light (@joelight), Bloomberg Politics
Ginnie Mae, a government-owned corporation whose purpose is to make mortgages more affordable, is investigating lenders that have been improperly pressuring veterans and service members into unneeded mortgage refinances. Practices like this have caught the attention of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who sent a letter to Ginnie Mae Acting President Michael Bright asking if some lenders were abusing Ginnie’s program with aggressive marketing tactics. In response, Ginnie Mae and VA created a task force that could address abusive practices by imposing restrictions on refinances such as a six-month moratorium between new mortgages and refinancing, or banning lenders from Ginnie-backed programs. –ML

VA to shorten benefit enrollment program window to expedite claims
Marcus Fichtl (@MarcusFichtl), Stars and Stripes 
Starting Oct. 1, a program that allows service members with 59 days or less left in the service to begin their VA benefits claim process will no longer be available. Additionally, the VA will increase the amount of time that troops wanting to resolve disability claims prior to separating will need to enroll in a program, from 60 days prior to leaving to 90 days. These changes are meant to help speed up the delivery of benefits from the VA, with the manager of the program saying he hopes that expediting of this process will mean troops will have a decision on their disability claim the day after separating from the military. –KB

Moves in the Sector:

Thomas Gibbons-Neff
Former Washington Post staff writer Thomas Gibbons-Neff is taking his talents over to The New York Times. He is a Georgetown University graduate, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and an expert in covering Pentagon and military news. –AB

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