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The Scout Report 363rd Edition

The Scout Report 363rd Edition

Military Families and Veterans News and Analysis

Monday, April 16, 2018

Without a VA secretary in place (and spoiler, no nomination for VA Secretary officially sent to the Senate), is there even VA news? In fact, this is the exact kind of orchestrated chaos that may lead to the next VA crisis. Keep reading below for an example of how that has happened before and now the VA doesn’t have enough doctors to meet the needs of veterans and motivate lawmakers to keep veterans’ healthcare out of the private sector.

There’s that and more in this week’s Scout Report. Thanks for being a reader longer than a cherry blossom sticks around. –LJ 

 

Congressional Hearings:

House:

Armed Services: Promoting DoD’s Culture of Innovation
Who: Dr. Michael D. Griffin, Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, Department of Defense; Dr. Eric Schmidt, Chairman, Defense Innovation Board, Department of Defense
When: 10:00 AM, Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Where: 2118 Rayburn

Veterans’ Affairs: Subcommittee on Health Legislative Hearing
When: 2:30 PM, Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Where: 334 Cannon

Appropriations: FY 2019 United States Coast Guard
Who: Commandant Paul F. Zukunft
When: 10:00 AM, Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Where: 2359 Rayburn

Appropriations: Military Construction FY 2019 Member Day
Who: The Honorable Tim Walz, Member of Congress; The Honorable Claudia Tenney, Member of Congress; TheHonorable John Rutherford, Member of Congress; The Honorable Mark Takano, Member of Congress; The Honorable French Hill, Member of Congress
When: 1:30 PM, Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Where: 2358-A Rayburn

Armed Services: Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Request for Missile Defense and Missile Defeat Programs
Who: Lieutenant General James Dickinson, Commander, Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command and Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense; Lieutenant General Samuel Greaves, Director, Missile Defense Agency; General Lori Robinson, Commander, U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command; The Honorable John Rood, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Department of Defense
When: 3:30 PM, Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Where: 2118 Rayburn

Armed Services: Oversight and Reform of the Department of Defense ‘4th Estate’
Who: Mr. Preston Dunlap, National Security Analysis Mission Area Executive, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory; Mr. Peter Levine, Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Defense Analyses
When: 10:00 AM, Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Where: 2118 Rayburn

Armed Services: Fiscal Year 2019 Energy, Installations and Environment Budget Request
Who: The Honorable Phyllis L. Bayer, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment, Department of the Navy; Mr. Jordan Gillis, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment, Department of the Army; The Honorable John W. Henderson, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Energy, Department of the Air Force; The Honorable Lucian Niemeyer, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations, and Environment, Department of Defense
When: 2:00 PM, Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Where: 2212 Rayburn

Armed Services: Ground Force Modernization Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2019
Who: Lieutenant General John M. Murray, Deputy Chief of Staff, G-8, Office of the U.S. Army Deputy Chief of Staff; Lieutenant General Paul A. Ostrowski, Military Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology), Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology); Brigadier General Joe Shrader, Commanding General, Marine Corps Systems Command; Lieutenant General Robert S. Walsh, Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, and Deputy Commandant, Combat Development and Integration, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps
When: 3:30 PM, Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Where: 2118 Rayburn

Armed Services: Army Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Request Readiness Posture
Who: Lieutenant General Joseph Anderson, Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3/5/7, U.S. Army; Lieutenant General Timothy Kadvy, Director, Army National Guard, U.S. Army;Lieutenant General Charles Luckey, Chief of Army Reserve, U.S. Army; Lieutenant General Aundre Piggee, Deputy Chief of Staff, G-4, U.S. Army
When: 10:00 AM, Thursday, April 19, 2018
Where: 2118 Rayburn

Armed Services: Military Health System Reform: Pain Management, Opioids Prescription Management and Reporting Transparency
Who: Vice Admiral Raquel C. Bono, Director, Defense Health Agency; Captain Mike Colston, Director, Mental Health Policy and Oversight, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs
When: 10:30 AM, Thursday, April 19, 2018
Where: 2212 Rayburn

Senate:

Armed Services: Nominations — Davidson – O’Shaughnessy
Who: Admiral Philip S. Davidson, USN, For Reappointment To The Grade Of Admiral And To Be Commander, United States Pacific Command; General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, USAF, For Reappointment To The Grade Of General And To Be Commander, United States Northern Command, And Commander, North American Aerospace Defense Command
When: 9:30 AM, Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Where: G50 Dirksen

Armed Services: Navy Shipbuilding Programs
Who: Honorable James F. Geurts, Assistant Secretary Of The Navy For Research, Development, And Acquisition; Vice Admiral William R. Merz, USN, Deputy Chief Of Naval Operations For Warfare Systems (OPNAV N9); Lieutenant General Robert S. Walsh, USMC, Deputy Commandant For Combat Development And Integration; Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command; And Commander, United States Marine Forces Strategic Command
When: 2:30 PM, Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Where: 232A Russell

Armed Services: Accelerating New Technologies to Meet Emerging Threats
Who: Honorable Michael D. Griffin, Under Secretary Of Defense For Research And Engineering
When: 2:30 PM, Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Where: 232A Russell

Armed Forces: Air Force Modernization
Who: Lieutenant General Arnold W. Bunch, Jr., USAF, Military Deputy, Office Of The Assistant Secretary Of The Air Force For Acquisition; Lieutenant General Jerry D. Harris, Jr., USAF
Deputy Chief Of Staff For Strategic Plans And Requirements, Headquarters United States Air Force; Brigadier General Brian S. Robinson, USAF, Assistant Deputy Chief Of Staff, Operations, Headquarters United States Air Force
When: 3:30 PM, Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Where: 222 Russell

Armed Services: Posture of the Department of the Navy
Who: Honorable Richard V. Spencer, Secretary Of The Navy;Admiral John M. Richardson, USN, Chief Of Naval Operations; General Robert B. Neller, USMC, Commandant Of The Marine Corps
When: 9:30 AM, Thursday, April 19, 2018
Where: G50 Dirksen

Tradeshows and Conferences:

SPIE: Defense + Commercial Sensing 2018 (Sun – Wed, April 15-19, 2018); Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center, Kissimmee, FL

AFCEA: Spring Intelligence Symposium 2018 (Wed – Thur, April 18-19, 2018); NGA Campus East, Springfield, VA

Community Opportunities:

Patriot Boot Camp: VetHacks (Fri – Sun, April 20-22, 2018); PenFed Credit Union HQ, McLean, VA

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

 

ScoutComms in the News:

Two Decades of War Have Eroded the Morale of America’s Troops
Phil Klay (@PhilKlay), The Atlantic
ScoutComms’ CEO and Founder Fred Wellman shared a tweet last June reflecting on those he knows who were touched by violence at war. Wellman wrote, “At this point nearly every Iraqi I worked with over three tours has been murdered…If someone knows a way I should process that I’m open to it but right now I’m just in shock at the brutality of war.” –SM 

Military and Veteran Issues:

Marines suspend general who called allegations of sexual harassment ‘fake news’
Tom Vanden Brook (@tvandenbrook), USA Today
Director of Marine and Family Programs, Brig. Gen. Kurt Stein, has been suspended by the U.S. Marine Corps after he mocked claims made by two civilian employees who said a Marine officer made multiple sexual advances on them. He also joked about Navy Chaplain, Loften Thornton, who was fired for a sexual encounter caught on video in a public setting. Ret. Marine Col. and CEO of Protect Our Defenders, Scott Jensen, was appalled by Stein’s comments, saying, “He made it clear that those who are vulnerable will not be taken seriously and victims have no recourse other than remain silent.” Stein will remain on administrative leave until the Marines have completed their investigation of his remarks, which took place on April 6 at the National Museum of the Marine Corps. –SM 
Bottom line: It only took the Marine Corps a little over a week to suspend Brig. Gen. Stein for his disparaging comments which is a fairly quick turnaround, so let’s give the Marine Corps credit there. What is most disheartening is that leaders still somehow think it might ever be appropriate to stand before an audience of hundreds of civilians and Marines and use crude language to disregard sexual harassment claims for which the Commandant has stepped in to reopen an investigation. We applaud Jensen’s remarks noting the toxic leadership climate attitudes and words like Stein’s continue to foster, in the military and out. That the system in this case worked and that people were willing to stand up and report Stein’s inappropriate comments notes a subtle shift that will hopefully promote better behavior in the short run and changing mindsets in the long-run. –LJ 

Trump says veterans wait too long for health care. VA’s 33,000 vacancies might have something to do with that.
Emily Wax-Thibodeaux (@emily_wax), The Washington Post
The Department of Veterans Affairs reportedly has more than 30,000 job vacancies. The understaffing crisis, spurred by a hiring freeze in 2017, currently shows no sign of resolution. The VA once attracted its candidates based on its relative stability, compensating for its lower pay. But with the VA mired in a myriad of scandals, from the firing of David Shulkin to the concerns over his replacement’s lack of experience, it is now viewed as a tumultuous and unstable environment. Additionally, VA officials cite concerns that they simply do not have enough human resources personnel to complete the vetting and hiring process, with more than 500 vacancies in that department alone. Of the understaffing, Sen. Jon Tester (Mont.), ranking Democrat on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee said: “It’s crippling our ability to deliver healthcare to our vets … It’s effectively pushing veterans outside the system.” While the Trump administration has pushed for privatization of veterans’ health care, advocates and healthcare experts maintain wait times are just as long in the private sector, noting that increased outsourcing is not the solution. –KG
Bottom line: If privatizing the VA isn’t an objective for this administration, then one might ask themselves, why are measures being taken that creates and/or exasperates problems within the VA? The strategy would appear to be not only slowly culling VA leaders that are seen as a barrier to privatization but also setting into motion a series of actions that began with the hiring freeze which excluded doctors but included the HR professionals necessary to hire them. When this is paired with 33,000 unfilled VA vacancies, which for medical personal includes lower pay, uncertain job security and a lengthy application process, of course wait times are going to begin to increase, the longer you don’t have these positions filled. If one-third of veterans in the VA healthcare system currently receive care from private medical providers, then of course a push for more private healthcare providers (at the cost of tax payers) seems like the perfect solution to this problem. The unfortunate reality is that many private healthcare providers aren’t always equipped to treat the unique healthcare needs of veterans. –CB 

Senate Republicans express concerns about Trump’s choice to lead Veterans Affairs
Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim), The Washington Post
With no permanent secretary in place for the largest federal agency, several Senate Republicans are apprehensive about proposed VA Secretary Ronny L. Jackson’s lack of management experience. Previously serving as the White House physician, Jackson would be in charge of more than 350,000 workers at the VA, if officially nominated and approved. While many Republicans and Democrats say they don’t know enough about Jackson, others believe he is unqualified to lead the VA. Jackson said his 23 years of military experience and his position as a rear admiral in the Navy proves his suitability. –DD 
Bottom line: As we mentioned previously, no one is questioning the service or integrity of Rear Admiral Jackson but the simple fact is that the VA is one of the most notoriously difficult government agencies to manage. It’s essentially three different organizations with different missions, focuses and issues all under a management headquarters in Washington, D.C. that has had historical challenges getting information from the far flung portions of the agency. The concerns with Jackson come down to his lack of any real management experience beyond small units even as he has climbed in rank. Throw in that he is an absolute blank slate politically so no one knows where he stands on any issues surrounding veterans or the administration of the department he is being nominated to lead and leaders on both sides of the political aisle are wondering if he is the appropriate person for the job. Interestingly, his nomination packet was not submitted to the Senate by last Friday, which means he will not likely begin the confirmation process before May—if not longer. In the meantime, the department has crucial issues it faces that remain in limbo as the leadership questions linger. Hopefully, the dust settles soon and the mission of the VA can once again be the focus. –FPW

Client Hits:

The 9 Best American Brands That’ll Repair Your Goods
InsideHook 
ScoutComms’ client GORUCK is featured as one of the top American brands that offers a repair warranty on their gear. As the premier expert on recreational rucking and the host of nation-wide rucking events, GORUCK is proud to stand behind their American-made rucksacks through their GORUCK SCARS warranty program, offering a variety of repairs, total replacement up to 6 months and replacement beyond 6 months at the company’s discretion. –KG 

Student Veterans of America president visits Bryan-College Station
Chad Anderson (@Chad_Anderson24), The Battalion
Jared Lyon, president and CEO of client Student Veterans of America (SVA), spoke with SVA chapter members at Texas A&M last Monday in regard to utilizing leadership to bring together diverse communities. Lyon also made a data-driven presentation to the college’s System Chancellor, John Sharp, in regard to the experiences of student veterans in higher education. –AB

Quick Hits:

John Boehner was a longtime opponent of marijuana reform. Here’s what changed his mind.
Alex Horton (@AlexHortonTX) and (@_cingraham), The Washington Post 
Citing his concern for veterans and their inability to legally use marijuana, former House Speaker John Boehner – a long-time critic of marijuana decriminalization – recently joined the board of directors for cannabis company Acreage Holdings. In a statement, Boehner wrote that his “thinking on cannabis has evolved,” since his time as congressman. Polling data demonstrates that more than 60 percent of Americans agree with marijuana legalization. Within the veterans community, a 2017 survey conducted by the American Legion reported that veterans largely support medical marijuana use and that approximately 22 percent of veteran households have used medical marijuana. Acreage Holdings aims to increase marijuana options broadly and has targeted veterans in their online marketing and outreach. –NJ 

The Fake Facebook Pages Targeting Vietnam Veterans
Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand), The Atlantic
CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, testified before Congress last week and said his company would not tolerate fake accounts and accounts with a foreign influence. A handful of fake Facebook accounts have been known to target Vietnam-era veterans, especially during the 2016 presidential election. One veteran organization in particular, Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), found an account posing as the organization and had gained up to 200,000 followers. It is on these types of pages that foreign influencers would spread political content, which was oftentimes false. This VVA-posing account in particular was linked back to Bulgaria. Even with multiple users reporting the page, Facebook did not find that the imposter page was violating its terms of use. Later on, the page did however get shut down for copyright infringement, but there are still other live accounts like this deceiving veterans. –DD 

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