June 14, 2019
Well…it was a crazy week in Washington. The crazy starts with how we discovered that ICE “accidentally” ignored their own rules for evaluating veterans and deported possibly hundreds who shouldn’t have been. A heartbreaking story of a young sailor’s suicide made us think about toxic leadership’s impacts. The good news is that it’s the Army’s birthday so have a giant slice of cake and toast the greatest land force the world has ever known! Check out the survey link below for our client Cohen Veterans Network and help them extend Telehealth services to more veterans! Have a great weekend and make sure you call Dad on Sunday! – Fred
ICE deported veterans while ‘unaware’ it was required to carefully screen them, report says
Washington Post, Alex Horton (@AlexHortonTX)
This story is about veterans, but it is also about is our broken immigration and deportation system, which is rushing to push people out of the country before performing a full, detailed review of their circumstances to ensure that they are being treated fairly. There are two problems that Horton touches on. The first is that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel are often not aware of or don’t act appropriately in relation to rules governing the treatment of veterans in deportation proceedings, which results in veterans being deported before their rights under the law are fully reviewed by the appropriate authorities. This is a failing of ICE in enforcement, and ICE now needs to live up to its promise—as noted in the article—that it will follow the guidelines on screening for veterans and elevating their case files in the future. The second problem is that immigration policies relating to new military recruits have been severely tightened under the Trump Administration. New recruits now have to serve longer before they are eligible to apply for naturalization, and some of the most important resources available on military bases to help them with their paperwork have been removed, leaving the paperwork in the hands of their chain of command, which can make costly mistakes. The bottom line is that arbitrary and punitive shifts in immigration policy have serious consequences for veterans as well as new recruits, and the military community is being poorly served by these changes. -Brian Wagner, President of ScoutComms
His Suicide Note Was a Message to the Navy. The Way He Died Was the Exclamation Point
Military.com, Patricia Kime (@patriciakime)
Patricia Kime has carved out a niche focusing on veteran and military health issues and this piece pulls no punches in its stark reporting on the tragic, senseless and infuriating chain of events that ended with a horrifying suicide act by a young sailor based in Norfolk Naval Station last year. Brandon Caserta had entered the Navy with dreams and the opportunity to become a Navy SEAL but a broken leg during Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL School (BUD/S) left him involuntarily transferred into a job rating he had no interest in and lorded over by a cruel and toxic non-commissioned officer while he sought a transfer to an aircrewman position. After weeks of progress and a new assignment another injury meant he was stuck back in his old job and given the humiliating duty of selling snacks on the flight line while he was mocked and belittled by his lead petty officer with no support from his chain-of-command. He took his life and laid out his entire plan in a note that was stark and honest in its tale about the rating system that left him in a dead end career in a horrible command climate and, in the end, appears to have been utterly ignored by the Navy. His LPO was simply given additional training and sent on to continue his career while the remainder of the chain-of-command have carried on with little outward damage to their climb up the ladder. There is rarely a single factor that leads a service member to suicide but more and more research is showing that toxic leadership and bullying are key factors for many who take their lives and the issue seems to be rarely addressed. While Military.com took some heat for this story and it’s raw approach it is important that we don’t sugar coat this crisis. Too many service members and veterans are taking their lives and the factors must be unpacked and addressed if we have any hope of truly making a dent in it. Allowing toxic leadership to go unchecked does nothing to make this fight any better. -Fred Wellman, CEO & Founder of ScoutComms
Will Congress force gender integration at Marine Corps boot camp?
Marine Corps Times, Leo Shane III and Shawn Snow (@LeoShane and @SnowSox184)
A new plan to require full integration of male and female Marine recruits during boot camp passed the House Armed Services Committee this week. While advocates push for co-ed platoons, Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Robert Neller, firmly disapproves, saying, “Our drill instructors stay with their recruits 24 hours a day, seven days a week the entire time they are there. So I am not considering having men and women live together in an open squad bay.”
‘You should be ashamed of yourselves’: Watch Jon Stewart tear into Congress over 9/11 victim’s fund
The Washington Post, Marisa Iati (@marisa_iati)
Comedian Jon Stewart, who has been noticeably advocating for the Victim Compensation Fund since 2010, criticized the House Judiciary Committee for its low attendance at a hearing about the reauthorization of funding “for people with diseases linked to the 9/11 crash sites.” After Stewart’s statements, the House Judiciary Committee unanimously voted to extend the Victim Compensation Fund.
VA owes 53,000 veterans $189 million in home loan refunds- are you one of them?
Connecting Vets, Elizabeth Howe
Due to some documentation issues that have failed to be addressed, the Department of Veterans Affairs still owes $189 million in refunds to 53,000 veterans. It has been concluded in a report by the VA Office of the Inspector General that the VA does not have the systems in place to ensure that veterans are being funded correctly. The IG report provided multiple suggestions to remedy the situation.
Coaxing Veterans Into Treatment to Prevent Suicides
Pew Trusts, Christine Vestal (@christinevestal)
In a study by the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, results aim to shed light on how to coax reluctant veterans to seek professional help and address the statistic that retired and active military service members die by suicide at twice the rate of civilians. The study, led by Tracy Stecker, got a thousand veterans to participate who hadn’t received mental health services and indicated that they had considered or attempted suicide. This was done by asking, “Are you considering seeking help?” without mention of suicide or mental health in their ads.
Study: Here’s how the Army can better use social media for recruiting
Army Times, Kyle Rempfer (@Kyle_Rempfer)
An Army-sponsored study by Rand Corporation’s Arroyo Center looked at the Army’s social media accounts and recruiting website to see what content the different audiences respond best to. It was found that the website should focus on “outreach to areas with diverse populations,” the Twitter account should host content around service values and the Facebook page should hold content about having an Army career.
Please Take This Post-9/11 Telehealth Survey
The non-profit Cohen Veterans Network provides high-quality, accessible, and integrated mental health care to veterans and their families, including Telehealth services. If you are a post-9/11 veteran or family member, please take this 5-minute survey to help them gain knowledge on Telehealth services in order to reach more members of our community in need of mental health services. Click here to complete the survey.
‘A Black Eye’ for the Purple Heart, as Groups Feud Over Funding
The Wall Street Journal, Ben Kesling (@bkesling)
The Military Order of the Purple Heart and the Purple Heart Foundation are in an ongoing court battle regarding fundraising for the Order. The Foundation, which was created by the Order as a fundraising arm, had pledged to raise $533,000 a month, but court filings show it has “paid only $25,000 per three months so far this fiscal year.” If the Order wins the court case, receiving the Purple Heart trademark, leaders plan to do their own fundraising and continue working on behalf of Purple Heart recipients and all veterans. Doug Greenlaw, national commander of the Order, said, “I’ve had corporate sponsors tell me they’ll help me raise it from the ashes. The Purple Heart is one hell of a brand.”