April 5, 2019
It’s been an exciting week in Washington as thousands have descended on the nation’s capital to gather and fight…for the perfect cherry blossom photos. This has caused much chagrin as denizens of the city fill Twitter with tales of people standing on the left side of the Metro escalator like it’s just made for standing. Amidst this annual anguish another kind occurred as the legendary National Director of Caregiver Support at the VA, Meg Kabat, departs this week for the private sector. Meg has been instrumental in building a support network within VA for our caregivers and a willing partner with outside groups like the Elizabeth Dole Foundation which hosted a farewell for her on Tuesday evening. Meg won’t be going far as she joins our partners at Atlas Research and we wish her the very best. I once called Meg the hardest-working federal official and I stand by that description today. – Fred
USMC move to integrate boot camp more ends; future unclear
Associated Press, Lolita Baldor (@lbaldor)
Our friend, Marine Corps veteran Kate Germano, lost her job as battalion commander of the female recruit training battalion at Parris Island because she demanded that male and female recruits in the Marine Corps be treated equally and trained together. Critics of full combat integration for women in the military decried the Marine Corps for stubbornly refusing to accept that men and women should always train and serve together. Remember, this was a big deal in 2017-2018. So now we learn that due to logistical reasons, the Marine Corps essentially desegregated Parris Island, SC during its winter training season, bringing male and female recruits together, and it went well. No problems. Everyone is happy. So they are going to drop their objections and start behaving like every other service, right? Absolutely not, or so it seems, and this is why advocates for eliminating all barriers for qualified women in the military don’t trust the Marine Corps’ intentions. Like a men-only country club, they stubbornly go out of their way to protect their historical nature as a bastion of masculine behavior and culture. This opposition needs to end. They have no data or facts to back up their objections. Cost is a minor issue. It’s time to drop the barriers, bring men and women together in training, and follow the lead of every other service that recognizes that women bring a lot to the table in every role the military recruits for. – Brian Wagner, COO of ScoutComms
If You Like Socialism, You’ll Love the VA
Wall Street Journal, Karl Zinsmeister
We almost never analyze opinion pieces for the ScoutReport because as the old saying goes about them “everyone’s got one.” But every now and then one comes along that is so monumentally deceiving and wrong headed about our community that it has to be addressed. Former Bush Administration official, embedded journalist and current VP at the Philanthropy Roundtable, Karl Zinsmeister, took it upon himself to use the Department of Veterans Affairs as the basis for a politically motivated attack on ‘socialism’ even though he is not a veteran or has ever been in the care of the VA. The second paragraph of the piece sets up the entire logic and fact-free attack by stating that even if you serve briefly in the military you and your family are entitled to lifetime free healthcare. That’s not even close to true and families never get treatment from the VA. From that error Zinsmeister goes on to regurgitate political attack points unbound by experience, facts or the needs of our veterans. Our problem with this is a simple one; the VA is often criticized for very tangible things as the second-largest healthcare provider in the U.S. and the second largest federal agency. It doesn’t need to be smeared as some sort of failed socialist dream that undermines the faith that veterans have in their healthcare and is only aimed to destroy a system taking care of almost half of all living veterans. As former Senator, and Navy veteran, Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said: “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” Zinsmeister hasn’t bothered to actually gather any facts to transmit an ill-informed opinion that only hurts veterans for his own ends. That is unfair and unacceptable. -Fred Wellman, Founder and CEO of ScoutComms
Vets in Congress Introduce Bill to Protect Gold Star Spouse Benefits
Military.com, Patricia Kime (@patriciakime)
A proposed bill in the House of Representatives, named the Sgt. First Class Brian Woods Gold Star and Military Survivors Act, aims to allow military widows and widowers to carry on receiving survivor benefit payments after remarrying. Among other additions, the bill would extend child care assistance and give continued access to base facilities. Rep. Don Bacon, a co-sponsor of the bill, is committed to passing this legislation, saying, “Our Gold Star and surviving family members deserve a commitment for life.”
The Dismal Career Opportunities for Military Spouses
The Atlantic, Julie Bogen (@JaBogen)
A 2017 Department of Defense survey reveals that military spouses are combating an unemployment rate of 25 percent – approximately six times the national average. Additionally, a White House report cites that military spouses are not only struggling to find employment, they are also often underemployed, earning an average of 26.8 percent less than their nonmilitary peers. Hiring initiatives from corporations like Starbucks, Hilton and Microsoft aim to reduce military spouse unemployment – but others, like multi-level marketing corporations, seek to prey on their vulnerability. Among military families surveyed, 37 percent cite “stress due to their current financial situation,” undoubtedly impacting troop readiness and retention.
For a million U.S. men, failing to register for the draft has serious, long-term consequences
USA TODAY, Gregory Korte (@gregorykorte)
According to Selective Service statistics, more than one million men over the age of 26 have been denied government benefits due to failure to register for the draft, resulting in loss of benefits like student aid, government jobs or in some cases, U.S. citizenship. Some states have additional consequences for those who refuse to register for the draft. Those over the age of 26, who are denied these benefits are able to appeal the decision if they have proof that their “failure to register was not ‘knowing or willful.'”
PEOPLE ON THE MOVE
Congratulations to Abbie Bennett (@AbbieRBennett), the newest senior reporter at Connecting Vets, who will be covering the Hill, VA, and Pentagon.
Vet groups say this rule makes troops vulnerable to ‘predatory schools.’ Here’s why.
Military Times, Joshua Axelrod (@jaxel222)
The 90-10 rule requires that for-profit colleges “receive no more than 90 percent of their revenue from federal student aid,” but that does not include the Post-9/11 GI Bill or Defense Department-sponsored tuition assistance. This loophole has led to predatory targeting of veterans and active-duty service members by for-profit colleges, and veteran advocates are speaking out against it. At a press conference advocating for Congress to change the rule, Student Veterans of America’s vice president of government affairs, Lauren Augustine, stated, “The 90-10 loophole has been abused long enough, and this important change is a major check on the quality of institutions.”
Understand, Engage and Activate: Every organization—whether public or private, for-profit or non-profit—has at least one of these three needs when working with veterans and military families. Read more here.