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The Scout Report 397th Edition

Military Families and Veterans News and Analysis

Monday, December 10, 2018

Army beats Navy for the third year in a row. We will try not to divide out team here at ScoutComms, which includes all branches of our military. But let’s just say our CEO Fred Wellman, an Army veteran, is in a good mood. In the meantime, here’s the military and veterans news you need to know. -SG

More veterans are becoming obese. Are stressful military transitions to blame?
Natalie Gross (@ByNatalieGross), Military Times Reboot Camp
Wounded Warrior Project and Westat released a new study based on 33,000 post-9/11 veterans and service members who have three or more injuries or health conditions related to their service. This survey found 51.7 percent of the participating disabled veterans have higher body mass indexes that qualify them as obese. Veterans listed that they are struggling with depression, sleep, stress and transitioning from the military into civilian life. The studyalso revealed that the majority of veterans are not consuming the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables each day. Diana Thomas, a professor at West Point, provides her insight on combating obesity among veterans, which include low impact exercises and planned workouts with a personal trainer. –SM
Bottom Line: Old habits are hard to break. When you’re in the military, you make due with what you have and you eat what you can, when you can. There’s an ideology out there that troops are fit solely because they are in the military and adapt to whatever circumstances are in front of them. That is true, but when you get home and transition out of the military, it’s no longer about staying alive and eating what you have in a combat zone. As the Wounded Warrior Project study says, there are several other major factors at play in veterans’ health – sleep, depression, stress. Not everyone can get a personal trainer or nutritionist, but veterans should try to remember the tools they were taught while in service and bring them into their post-military lives. And also encourage our new generation of young veterans and those who are considering joining the military that fitness and good health are cornerstones for a strong military and for our country as a whole.  

After losing court battle, Pentagon will send green-card holders to recruit training
Dan Lamothe (@DanLamothe), The Washington Post
Last year the Trump administration adopted a policy requiring more intensive background checks on all green card holders before they could attend boot camp. This caused thousands of green card holders to be put in limbo and caused further recruitment issues in each branch. After a court battle, the policy has now been suspended and the Pentagon will begin sending the backlogged green-card holders to recruit training. –LB
Bottom Line: It’s impressive what necessity—and a court ordered injunction—can do to compel changes in behavior. While the primary reason for the DoD’s shifting stance on the more laborious background check process for green card holders is an injunction by a federal judge blocking the Trump administration’s policy, the details covered in Lamothe’s story clearly show how the services are being hurt by the increased delays in processing otherwise qualified green card holders who want to serve their adopted country. Every service saw a decline in number of green card holders processed into recruit training in the last fiscal year as a result of the stricter policy, with the Air Force and Army in particular reporting drastic declines, and the Navy reporting a large backlog. In several cases, the services noted that the backlogs were directly contributing to challenges in meeting recruiting targets overall. While background checks are important, and there are limited risks of foreign-born green card holders having split allegiances which could present espionage risks, the judge who issued the injunction noted that based on all available evidence, there is no satisfactory reason for requiring the new screening, which more than doubled the amount of time required for a green card holder to be processed for recruit training. In my opinion, this is good news for the military, even if it is a temporary blow to the Administration’s policy efforts. The military has long relied on foreign-born recruits to help bolster the ranks, serve honorably, and bring valuable perspectives and experiences to their service; nothing that has happened in recent years has notably challenged the assumptions underlying the previously-acceptable background check process. While the legal battles will continue, hopefully the military will be able to start welcoming new recruits more rapidly and deserving green card holders will have shorter waits before they can begin to serve their new country. -BW

Saudi-funded lobbyist paid for 500 rooms at Trump’s hotel after 2016 election
David A. Fahrenthold, Jonathan O’Connell (@Fahrenthold, @OConnellPostbiz), The Washington Post
Detailed reports about a series of Saudi-funded stays at the Trump International Hotel revealed the Saudi lobbyists paid for approximately 500 nights in a 3-month timeframe. The hotel stays were part of an elaborate campaign that provided U.S. military veterans with an all-expense paid trip to D.C., supposedly in order to “storm the Hill” against legislation that the group said could lead to retribution from other countries and the veterans to face prosecution for activities overseas during war.  The veterans involved were unaware that the trips were Saudi-funded, but Jason E. Johns, a U.S. Army veteran and lobbyist from Wisconsin who led the groups said of the accusations, “When I was asked directly, ‘Is Saudi Arabia paying for this?’ I would say yes, and out of [all of them] not a single one of them said, ‘I don’t want to be a part of this.’” The incident was reported last year, but as more details emerge, President Trump may face allegations of accepting briberies from foreign governments – a violation of the Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause. With the Democrats once again in a position of influence, the Trump administration is likely to face additional probes into how foreign countries are potentially influencing the president through his various businesses. – KG
Bottom Line: There are layers to this story that are infuriating with each angle uncovered. A secretly funded effort to repeal a law that could hurt the Saudi government by manipulating the support and reverence given our veterans. That effort poured money into the coffers of the President of the United States by using the properties he owns. Then we find out that many of the veterans weren’t told who was funding the trips. Also, disturbing is that many did know and continued to support the effort anyway. Its like an onion but more rotten as you get deeper. There are reasonable concerns with the JASTA law that does indeed open U.S. military members up to being dragged into legal cases surrounding their efforts serving the country but the way to fix that law isn’t an undercover operation that manipulates the public and Congress with veterans. This comes after we found out that the crowdfunding effort for homeless veterans Johnny Bobbit was an elaborate fraud as well using the sympathy of American’s for financial gain. These activities all just chip away at the trust American’s have in our veterans and undermine legitimate efforts at a time when funding for nonprofits its getting tighter. -FPW

Quick Hits:

Tom Hanks thinks Hollywood isn’t best suited to tell stories of Iraq, Afghanistan wars

Nikki Wentling (@nikkiwentling), Stars and Stripes
Despite starring in a blockbuster film and mini-series about World War II, actor Tom Hanks believes one of the best ways to tell the story of the Iraq or Afghanistan wars is through a documentary and not a Hollywood movie. Hanks said the wars are “difficult to portray in movies confined by plot lines with clear chronologies, protagonists and antagonists” because many soldiers have faced multiple deployments. –MW

Here’s the VA’s long, slow fix to the GI Bill cash crunch
Natalie Gross (@ByNatalieGross), Military Times
The Department of Veterans Affairs’ announcement of a new implementation plan for sections of the Forever GI Bill has caused much confusion. However, amidst the chaos is a bright side: student veterans using the education benefit for the spring term “should get their money on time” and a check will go out to students covering the difference of a higher payment due to an increase in the cost-of-living. Among the controversy of the announcement is a new implementation deadline of Dec. 1, 2019, but VA Sec. Robert Wilkie said in a statement, “Redesigning the way (the Veterans Benefits Administration) calculates Post-9/11 GI Bill housing rates during a busy academic season was like flying a plane while building it, and that was unfair and frustrating to veterans and taxpayers. That’s why we are resetting our implementation of the law for the next year to ensure we get the technology and formula right to put veterans first.” –LB

U.S. Army’s only all-female, African American WWII unit honored with monument
Kaylah Jackson (@kaylahchanel), Connecting Vets
In 1945, as the military faced increasing pressure to utilize African American Women’s Army Corps (WAC) units overseas, a request for the women of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion – the Army’s only all-female and all-African American unit during the war – was approved for service to the European theater. When they arrived, they faced a vermin-infested warehouse and six months of backlogged mail, which they began processing at a rate of approximately 65,000 pieces per shift. The women were recognized on Friday by a new monument honoring their service in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas – of the 800 women in the unit, five were in attendance for the ceremony. – KG

Trial: Losses from Iranian bombs echo in the lives of wounded troops, Gold Star families a decade later
Todd South (@tsouthjourno), Military Times
Ten years after attacks against the U.S. in Iraq, more than 200 plaintiffs are in a lawsuit against the Islamic Republic Iran “for their arming, training, funding and directing of a host of terrorist groups” that was responsible for the deadly attacks. With no jury and no attorneys present from Iran, plaintiffs could be provided with funds set up for victims of state-sponsored terrorism. –SM


Client Hits:

How’s your mental health? Ending the suicide epidemic begins by caring for ourselves.
Barbara Van Dahlen (@bvandahlen) and Talinda Bennington (@TalindaB), USA Today
Barbara Van Dahlen, founder and president of Give an Hour, along with Talinda Bennington, co-founder of 320 Changes Direction, contributed to USA Today on how to solve the mental health crisis, which they believe begins with us. Those suffering from mental health conditions and substance use disorders can be helped, and “it’s time to normalize the need to care for our mental health.” –SM

Easy Errands? New Crowdsourcing App Adds Convenience to Military Life
Amy Bushatz (@amybushatz), Military.com
A crowdsourcing app, JoyRun, is making its way to military bases nationwide, offering a friendlier way to get what you need. JoyRun Founder & CEO, Manish Rathi, explained, “It was built for communities, neighbors and colleagues in an office to help each other out and get rewarded in the process of doing so. It works for food, diapers, dish detergent. And it’s done not be a delivery driver; it’s done by members of the community.” The app is simple to use: “Runners” can post when they are running errands and accepting requests and people who want or need something can also post requests to be picked up by a runner. JoyRun is currently at five military bases and is continuing to expand. –LB

Pearl Harbor memorial event: sweat and pain for rucksack warriors
Bo Emerson (@BoEmerson) The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
This weekend, as the country remembers the tragedy of the Pearl Harbor attacks, GORUCK will host a number of events memorializing the fallen of that infamous day. The company leads approximately 1,000 rucking-based endurance events annually, and many of them, like the Pearl Harbor events this weekend, honor historically significant events. Participants in this weekend’s Atlanta GORUCK Light challenge, like U.S. Army veteran John Tackett, will endure a number of physical endurance tests across 4-6 hours and ruck approximately 7-10 miles.  – KG

GORUCK’s latest is inspired by Vietnam. So that’s where they went to test it.
Eric Dehm (@EricDehm), Connecting Vets
Jason McCarthy, founder of GORUCK, talked with Eric Dehm about the story behind the MACV-1, a Vietnam-era-inspired “Jungle Boot” with modern function. When talking about the creation of the boot, McCarthy said, “We went back to Vietnam with a guy named Richard Rice who was in MACV-SOG, a very elite Special Forces unit in Vietnam. Went back and retraced his steps in Vietnam all over and went through his time and his stories there… it was one of the great honors of my life.” To learn more about the story behind the MACV-1 and their return to Vietnam, go to the GORUCK website. –LB

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