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ScoutReport: Trump Forms Task Force to Prevent Veteran Suicide, Senators Propose Ending U.S. Presence in Afghanistan by 2020, and More …

SCOUTREPORT
March 8, 2019

Analysis

The new plan to prevent veteran suicides: new grants, better research, more community focus

Military Times, Leo Shane (@leoshane)

Leaders from ScoutComms clients Student Veterans of America and the Military Order of the Purple Heart joined fellow veterans service organization leaders on Tuesday at the White House as President Trump signed a new Executive Order launching a multi-agency effort to combat veterans suicide. The effort dubbed the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide, or PREVENTS, is designed to create systems similar to the ones that were instrumental in lowering veteran homelessness across multiple agencies with public and private organization partnerships. Recent studies have estimated that some 20 veterans commit suicide a day with a heavy number of those coming from older veterans and prominently among those who aren’t using VA services. Considering that less than half of veterans use any VA services at all, it means you are missing thousands of people with a single agency focus. This is truly an important step that will hopefully start moving the needle on this difficult issue and provide lessons for the general population to follow that will reduce what is also an epidemic among all Americans. Other tools that have helped veterans in cases like creating prosthetics and reducing homelessness have benefited civilians. This effort can have a similar positive impact on the country. –Fred Wellman, CEO and Founder of ScoutComms

Paul, Udall introduce bill to end Afghanistan War

The Hill, Ellen Mitchell (@EllenEMitchell)

Someday, in the future, the U.S. will depart Afghanistan. The country is not well-suited to be a permanent regional base of operations for the U.S. But the timing of that departure has never been pinned down, and the goalposts have continually shifted further and further to the right. When I arrived in Afghanistan in 2017, the new direction–after President Trump announced that the U.S. was staying and increasing its commitment again–was just becoming clear. Now we are back in a period of uncertainty again. Several senators want to change that though. They are tired of the blank check and the lack of a clear, achievable end state. So they are proposing–buoyed by recent discussions about downsizing the U.S. commitment–that the U.S. skip to the end of the process, declare victory, and withdraw all U.S. troops within one year. If the U.S. leaves, it is likely that NATO would pull out on a similar timeframe. I am hoping for a robust Congressional debate about this bill, because for too long the war effort has coasted on autopilot in Congress, besides a few dissenting voices. I believe that we need to see through this latest negotiating effort, but need to have a plan in place to ramp down our active presence sooner rather than later. We are treading water today, as attrition takes U.S. lives in small numbers and Afghan lives in much greater numbers. So I welcome this bill. But I have two problems with it. First, declaring victory undermines the realist approach the bill is taking. We won initially in Afghanistan after 9/11, but ever since then, we’ve been caught in a stalemate. Declaring victory is window dressing to try to make the decision more palatable. I also believe the bonus is completely unnecessary. With the government running massive deficits and rapidly adding to the total U.S. debt, there is no reason that leaving Afghanistan needs to be tied to giving money out to everyone who has served there. I certainly don’t want a “win bonus.” Ultimately there are no easy answers in Afghanistan, but we’ve been stuck in neutral for far too long. It’s time for a change, and Congress should be willing to engage in an open-ended debate around this bill. — Brian Wagner, COO of ScoutComms

News

As More Military Women Seek Health Care, VA Pursues Improvement

The Wall Street Journal, Ben Kesling (@BenKesling)

With a rising number of women veterans utilizing the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system, VA officials are prioritizing improving women’s health services. According to department representatives, priorities include: expanded training on gynecological matters, provision of on-site childcare services at healthcare facilities and “advanced care like mental-health treatment associated with military sexual trauma.”

House VA committee launches investigation of bots using fake news to target veterans, servicemembers

Stars and Stripes, Nikki Wentling (@nikkiwentling)

With a focus among Democrats in Congress to increase transparency, the House VA committee has launched an investigation on bots attempting to spread fake news to veterans and servicemembers through the impersonation of congressionally chartered veterans service organizations. The committee chairman, Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., said,“Congress has a responsibility to stamp out these anonymous individuals and protect our country from threats foreign and domestic.”

Veterans Receive Golden ‘Tickets’ Canceling Their Medical Debt

Military.com, Patricia Kime (@patriciakime)

Thousands of those in the military and veteran communities have received a golden envelope in the mail from RIP Medical Debt—erasing their healthcare debt. Over the past three years, $65 million has been provided as random acts of kindness to alleviate some of the medical debt of veterans, their families, National Guard and reserve members.

Client Spotlight

10 big Spring events offering free tickets to US military veterans

Task and Purpose, Veteran Tickets Foundation (@VetTix)

From the Super Bowl to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Veteran Tickets Foundation (Vet Tix) provides event tickets to all branches of currently-serving military and veterans, including immediate family of troops KIA. Take a look at this sampling of upcoming events, and go to VetTix.org to create a free account and see all available events.

We are excited to work alongside our new client, Freedom Learning Group, a leading full-service digital courseware developer and education consultancy supporting publishers, colleges and universities. FLG specializes in eLearning content creation, ADA/Section 508 accessibility solutions, online program management, and curriculum design and development. As a veteran-owned small business, FLG employs a global instructional design team of Military Spouses and Veterans with advanced subject matter expertise. 

People on the Move

ANDREA GOLDSTEIN (@AN_Goldstein)
Steps down from CEO of Service to School to join House VA Committee Staff to lead Women Veterans Task Force

TIM LAWSON (@TimothyJLawson)
Leaves Department of Veteran Affairs to join Arlington National Cemetery as Public Affairs Specialist

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