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ScoutReport: VA Deals with Veteran Suicides at Medical Centers, Service Women Face Challenges Working with Special Forces, and More…

SCOUTREPORT
February 8, 2019

The parking lot suicides

Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, (@emily_wax) Washington Post

Emily brings us a powerful story with photos from Jenn Ackerman about the 19 suicides that have occurred on Department of Veterans Affairs campuses from October 2017 to November 2018. Seven of them were in the parking lots right outside medical facilities. She goes in depth on the heartbreaking stories of several veterans who were released from inpatient mental health treatment and took their lives immediately. Investigations found a host of mistakes made by the local administrators and highlights how Dr. Keita Franklin and her team at VA are trying to introduce new processes and training to ensure veterans aren’t falling through the cracks of a system that is short mental health professionals and struggles with quality issues at numerous facilities. In the end the decision to take one’s own life is the culmination of a host of issues from genetics, trauma, health and availability of means but each one damages our community and devastates a family. There are a number of programs out there that are trying to reach our veterans and help them in times of despair and challenges. ScoutComms clients, Give an Hour and Vets4Warriors, are making efforts to give veterans care and support in their lives so the horrible decision to end one’s life isn’t reached. The VA has prioritized reducing suicide among veterans as one of its top clinical objectives in 2019 and we hope that the effort is real, funded and executed after years of mismanagement and mistakes. Suicide is a plague and lowering the stigma of seeking help is the first step in helping our veterans but these cases clearly show that ensuring proper care is administered once the veteran is getting help matters too. — Fred Wellman, CEO and Founder of ScoutComms

Analysis

As a Woman Serving Alongside Green Berets, I Had No Problem Keeping Up. It Wasn’t Enough
Jackie Munn | New York Times At War

Army veteran Jackie Munn’s narrative illustrates a fundamental point about women serving at the frontlines in our military: problems don’t arise due to their inability to do the job, problems arise because others are unwilling to accept that they are equal partners. Her story of serving as a Cultural Support Team advisor to Green Berets in Afghanistan offers an excellent case study of how the same person doing the same job can succeed when accepted and fail when ostracized. Under one team that accepted her as part of their family, she was a trusted and valued contributor, helping the team navigate and bridge the gender divides in Afghanistan that complicated the mission. When a second team came in that did not understand nor appreciate her contributions, she was sidelined and mocked, simply because the second team didn’t feel comfortable with her gender. To be blunt, that’s bullshit. Military professionals don’t get to pick who they work with because they don’t like their gender, race or sexuality. If men serving in the Special Forces community can’t accept the presence and contributions of capable women who have gone out of their way to prove that they are mentally and physically tough enough to survive and thrive on the frontlines of war, they should look for another job. — Brian Wagner, COO of ScoutComms

News

Embattled VA Health Care System May Merge With Pentagon’s

Robert Levinson and Megan Howard, Bloomberg Government

The Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs are considering merging aspects of their individual health care programs to allow facilities of both agencies to serve the two populations. Pat Murray, Deputy Director of the National Legislative Service for Veterans of Foreign Wars, said of the merger, “The idea in itself makes sense. But it’s going to be a lot harder than I think they understand.”

Senators skeptical over long-term VA health records overhaul

Leo Shane III (@LeoShane), Military Times

Representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs reassured skeptical lawmakers on Tuesday that the plan to transition the department’s health records to an electronic system is steadily progressing. While their skepticism originates from previous costly failures, to the tune of $1.1 billion, the department remains optimistic that the $16 billion, 10-year strategy will prove successful.

‘Time Away’ Remains Top Troop, Military Family Worry: Survey

Amy Bushatz, (@amybushatz) Military.com

Blue Star Families and Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families’ annual survey found the main concern among active-duty troops and their families is being absent from their homes. This is the second year in a row that ongoing worry about time away has been at the top of the list of concerns.

‘The American dream is real’: Once a desperate refugee, now a US Army general

Nancy Montgomery, Stars and Stripes

Brig. Gen. Lapthe Flora arrived in America in 1980 after fleeing Vietnam and has since lived out what he refers to as “the American dream.” When speaking with Stars and Stripes, Flora said, “After what I went through practically death, and then somebody gives you that opportunity to live again, I can only say from my own perspective that I’m very grateful for what this country has done for me.”

Client Highlight

Vet Tix – Veteran Tickets Foundation
Ryan Guina (@ryanguina), The Military Wallet

Veteran Tickets Foundation distributes free event tickets to veterans, active duty service members, including Guard and Reserve, as well as family members of those killed in action, military families and VetTixer caregivers. The foundation provides a wide variety of events, but the tickets go fast, so it’s important to stay up to date with all their latest offerings at vettix.org.

ScoutComms in the News

Catch this episode on Connecting Vets where Fred Wellman talks about Google’s job search tool for transitioning vets. Companies such as Home Depot, Hilton Hotels, and BP are more interested in leadership skills than an MOS.

Scout Insight

 

Help us better understand the motivations of veterans and military family members currently enrolled in college. Take this quick survey now.

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