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The Scout Report 230th Edition

Military Families and Veterans Issues and Analysis

Monday, August 24, 2015

This week’s Scout Report is all about miniature horses as service animals. Really.

Last week, ScoutComms took advantage of the August lull and appeared in nearly any type of media you might consume. Also really.

Continue reading and prove me right.

I’ll even forgo mentioning the baby panda twins so you can read the rest of the Scout Report in peace. –LJ

The week ahead:

Tradeshows and Conferences:

No major tradeshows or conferences this week.

For a full list of upcoming events check out our Events page.



Field Hearing: Exploring the Veterans Choice Program’s Problems in Alaska
When: 5:30 PM, Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Where: AFC Church, 16620 Brooks Loop, Eagle River, Alaska
Who: Mr. Verdie Bowen, Director of the Office of Veterans Affairs of the State of Alaska, Mr.David Joslin, Alaska Veteran, Mr. Carlton Lewis, Alaska Veteran, Ms. Susan Williams, Alaska Veteran, Dr Davic J. Shulkin, Under Secretary for Health, Dr.Andrea Buck, Associate Director, Medical Consultation and Review, Office of Healthcare Inspections, Office of Inspector General, Dept. of Veterans Affairs, Mr. David McIntyre, President and Chief Executive Officer, TriWest Healthcare


Children’s Institute, Inc: 3rd Annual Working with Military-Connected Families Conference
When: 8:00AM-4:30PM, Friday, August 28th
Where: Bob Hope Patriotic Hall, Los Angeles, CA

Major themes and issues from last week:

Scout Comms in the News:

Survey: Most Americans think government is failing vets
Leo Shane (@LeoShane), Military Times
On Tuesday we released the findings of the first Ipsos-ScoutComms Veterans Issues Poll. With our partners at global research leader, Ipsos, we’re surveying Americans about their understanding of the veteran and military communities and asking their opinions about the organizations seeking to impact those communities. In this first poll, we found Americans have an unfavorable or uninformed view of not just government efforts for veterans but corporate and non-profits as well despite of massive efforts on their behalf that have truly moved the needle for the community. Today, unemployment is nearly equal or better than civilian America and veteran homelessness is nearly eliminated and yet many Americans know little about these successes. We will be conducting more polls in coming months and we’d love you to join the conversation with #ScoutOpinion. –MC

Other coverage:

Exclusive – poll finds government, corporations not doing enough to support veterans
Jeremy Herb (@jeremyherb), Politico 

Poll: Americans don’t think the government is doing a good job supporting veterans
Jonah Bennett (@BennettJonah), The Daily Caller 

Never give a woman a combat job
Brian Wagner (@BrianBWagner), for BuzzFeed 
Vice President Brian Wagner takes on the topic of the military opening combat positions to female service members in a humorous BuzzFeed community article. He compares this debate to other achievements and rights earned by American women throughout modern history. Be sure to check it out! –MC

Ben Bernanke: being in the military won’t actually help you in the real world
John Hudson (@John_Hudson), Foreign Policy
Ben Bernanke, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, said last weel that military experience won’t lead to success in civilian life. Our CEO Fred Wellman has a very different opinion on the matter and voices it loud and clear in a Foreign Policy article. –MC

Vets bring DIY attitude to business startups
Heath Druzin (@Druzin_Stripes), Stars and Stripes
Heath Druzin wrote a great piece last week about the varying journeys of veteran entrepreneurs. Being the serial entrepreneur that he is, Fred discussed his experiences and the idea of risk when deciding to open a business. Fred is not only our CEO, but also co-owns two Ladyburg stores with his wife, Crystal. –MC

Veterans and Military Issues:

An Army Ranger School milestone, but obstacles remain for women in military
W.J. Hennigan (@wjhenn), Los Angeles Times
Capt. Kristen Griest and Lt. Shaye Haver became the first ever women to graduate from Army Ranger School last Friday, although they will not be allowed to serve in the 75th Ranger Regiment. On social media, their success brought on many doubters, but one of the cadre at Ranger School put those rumors to rest with a pointed Facebook post about how exactly the women passed. The debate about women in combat is expected to continue, as the services discuss contraception in combat zones and how the Marines are lagging behind in bringing women into their ranks. –MC
Bottom line: They made it and by all reports they did so by meeting the incredibly difficult standards that all Ranger candidates must meet to earn the coveted black and gold strip of cloth. There are have been grumblings in social media and rumors of special favors from both inside the Ranger community and outside it but everything we’ve heard proves that given a fair chance, strong leaders like Griest and Haver can meet the challenges placed before them regardless of what chromosome sets they are packing. We enthusiastically congratulate these officers for breaking the glass ceiling regardless of what lays ahead for the huge decisions the military services must make in the coming weeks on opening more jobs to women. The fact is that not all men can meet the challenges of elite schools and infantry missions and neither can all women. But that shouldn’t stop us from keeping the standards high and welcoming those who can. We will know soon what the next step looks like but with so few even capable of joining today’s military we simply can’t keep qualified patriots from serving in a job because we are worried about 10,000 years of societal rules. This is the 21st Century. Let’s get on with it. –FPW

VA investigating wrongly discarded claims forms
Leo Shane (@LeoShane), Military Times 
Earlier this year, paperwork for nine veterans’ disability claims wound up in a Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Regional Office shredding bin. The VA is now conducting surprise inspections at regional offices across the country to find out if this incident was the result of a broader issue, or was an isolated incident. Tens of thousands of VA employees are also in trouble for using social media networks for internal conversations, such as Yammer, which violates VA security protocol. –MC
Bottom line: In the spirit of baby panda twins (I know, I lied), I’m feeling generous and wish to look at this story as good news. It’s perhaps indicative of some reforms taking hold at VA wherein the inspector general is taking concrete steps to ferret out whether problems are systemic or regional or just local staff training. In the past, the VA IG has been criticized for not uncovering systemic issues, but rather reporting on them piecemeal. In this case, the IG is taking steps to address not only VA issues but its own internal ones, as well. We can hope for further reforms both external and internal to the IG’s office once a new permanent IG is nominated—the post has been vacant for more than 19 months. –LJ

Academic accommodations can aid troubled veterans
Heath Druzin (@Druzin_Stripes), Stars and Stripes 
Dr. Katherine Mitchell, a VA whistleblower who helped uncover issues at the Phoenix VA hospital, has been researching accommodations that veterans with post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, and other mental health challenges can benefit from in a college setting. These accommodations include additional time for tests, note-taking assistance and breaks during lectures. –MC
Bottom line: We owe multiple debts of gratitude to Dr. Mitchell, who not only stood by her principles as a whistleblower at the Phoenix VA, but who then used her abundant free time to research and draw attention to an issue that is of importance and value to disabled veterans and civilians alike. We like to believe that colleges are fair institutions that always have the best interest of the students at heart, but due to design or ignorance, rules for accommodation of students’ needs are not always met. Empowering disabled student veterans, particularly when their wounds are not visible, so that they know their rights is a positive effort that has our full backing. Especially if that support requires seeing-eye miniature horses, which is a program we just discovered (not The Onion!) and now love unconditionally. –BW

Completely Betrayed: The family of a general killed in an insider attack doesn’t accept the Army’s investigation
Ian Shapira (@ianshapira), The Washington Post
The family of Maj. Gen. Harold J. Green, killed in an insider attack in Afghanistan, is calling attention to incomplete investigations that are common in these battlefield deaths. The military’s investigation simply reported that the shooting could not have been prevented and that there was no negligence. Green’s family members are not the only ones who feel that these types of investigations are incomplete. Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene was the highest-ranking American officer to have been killed in combat since Vietnam. –MC
Bottom line: The loss of MG Greene was shocking. The loss of a general officer to an Afghan soldier was shocking and it only became more shocking as it was discovered that not only was the shooter allowed to get within feet of the visiting delegation at the military academy but had actually been hiding in a building with U.S. security troops on the roof that had been declared clear of threats. What is most shocking is that the investigation couldn’t find fault with anyone. Not American or Afghan. How that is possible is really the focus of the anger from the general’s family and supporters. The Army is suffering from a decidedly confused sense of what is negligence in its leaders. Officers are constantly under fire or relieved for sexual misconduct or moral failures but almost never is one fired for incompetence in battle. To say that a Taliban sympathizer was able to smuggle a weapon and kill a two-star general while soldiers sat on the roof above his head and it’s no one’s fault defies logic and common sense. At some point failures on the battlefield should take precedence over Ashley Madison memberships if we are going to fight and win our nation’s wars. –FPW

What happens when the largest city in the U.S. decides to end veteran homelessness?
Bryce Covert (@brycecovert), ThinkProgress 
New York City is working to end veteran homelessness but faces unique challenges due to its size and crowdedness. A recent ThinkProgress article examines these challenges, techniques to address them, and progress to date as the city works to reach “functional zero”. –MC
Bottom line: It’s hard to categorize this article. It’s not really passing judgment on NYC’s progress in ending veteran homelessness; instead, it is a snapshot of the process and the people who make the system tick. It’s uplifting at times, and it also is troubling when it makes you consider the challenges NYC faces in not just reaching functional zero, but also maintaining that level of resources in one of the nation’s most expensive housing markets. Don’t stop before you have read the full article, and take a moment to give silent thanks for the men and women whose daily work is to help the homeless take advantage of the city’s resources. At the same time, with veterans news in NYC dominated in recent months by spats between the mayor’s office and vocal veterans advocates about budgeting and representation, this story adds some much needed perspective about one area where the city’s heart is in the right place. –BW

ScoutComms’ Client News:

‘Boots to Business’ introduces veterans and active-duty troops to starting a business
Heath Druzin, (@Druzin_Stripes), Stars and Stripes
Boots to Business is a program offered on 165 military installations that trains service members in entrepreneurship. The program is offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University and is now open to all troops at any time in their military career. Heath Druzin attended a recent class at Quantico and spoke with several students in the program about their experience. –MC

A new life for battlefield translators
Jeanette Steele (@jensteeley), The San Diego Union-Tribune 
No One Left Behind is an organization assisting Iraqi and Afghan interpreters as they move to America after serving alongside U.S. troops overseas. Many move to the states to escape threats and protect their families, but when they arrive they find little assistance in starting their new lives. The San Diego Union-Tribune profiles the arrival in San Diego last week of a young former interpreter who goes by the name of Jack and his adjustment to America. –MC

CNS Response Presents PEER Findings at Military research conference
CNS Response briefed senior leaders on PEER and clinical results at the annual Military Health System Research Symposium last week. PEER is a data registry that helps reduce trial and error in prescribing medication. The clinical results showed that with the help of PEER, patients had to visit the doctor fewer times to find a medication that worked for them. –MC

Women vets meet to talk business
Marie Szaniszlo (@MarieSzaniszlo), Boston Herald
About 200 women veterans and military spouses attended the Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship conference in Boston this past weekend. The three-day program is an entrepreneurship crash course from the Institute for Veterans and Military Families and teaches women about starting and maintaining successful business ventures. Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James was the keynote speaker. –MC

Moves in the Sector:

JP Morgan’s Dimon Hires Ex-General Odierno to advise on security
Sonali Basak (@sonalibasak) and Hugh Son (@Hugh_Son), Bloomberg 
Former Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno is heading over to JP Morgan Chase & Co. where he will serve as an advisor to CEO Jamie Dimon. Odierno will focus on international risks, cyber security, and providing counsel to the board. He joins his son, Tony, who also works at JPMorgan Chase in its Office of Military and Veterans Affairs.
In other veteran community news, Chris Marvin is departing Got Your 6, an organization working to change media portrayals of veterans and close the civil-military divide. Marvin founded the group and saw it through many successful moments. We wish him the best in his next endeavors.

Quick Hits:

Military kids may be more apt to smoke, drink and carry guns
Lisa Rapaport, Reuters
A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics showed that military children were at higher risk than civilian children to carry weapons, drink, smoke, and engage in other risky behaviors. The study was based on a survey of California public school children. –MC (Ed. Note: Our resident Army brat Margaret will have an extended response to this article. Be on the lookout for it on social media.)

USO to stop using Purple Heart image
Karen Jowers, Military Times 
The USO has been using images of the Purple Heart medal in fundraising mailings return address labels, but will discontinue this practice after learning that the Defense Department requires special permission to reproduce these images. –MC

For-profit colleges are using the GI Bill to make money off veterans
Chris Kirkham (c_kirkham) and Alan Zarembo (@AlanZarembo), Los Angeles Times
For-profit colleges have been collecting millions of dollars in GI Bill funding to teach military veterans. These colleges have been under scrutiny for potentially preying on veterans, high tuition costs, and questionable job placement rates. –MC

VA hospital at fault in Marine veteran’s death
Patricia Kime (@PatriciaKime), Military Times 
Jason Simcakoski, a Marine Corps veteran, died on August 30, 2014, at the VA Medical Center in Tomah, Wisconsin. A recent investigation found that the center’s staff didn’t properly prescribe medication, and failed to initiate lifesaving techniques when they found him unresponsive. The same hospital has been under fire since January due to potential over-prescribing of oxycodone pills.–MC

Members of U.S. military stop Islamist attacker on train in Belgium
Ralph Ellis (RalphEllisATL), Jessica King (@jessCNN), Archith Seshadri (@archithseshadri), and Peter Dailey, CNN 
On Friday, two U.S. service members and a friend, all on vacation, acted quickly and stopped attack on a high-speed train headed toward Paris. The individual who attempted the attack was reportedly known among European counterterrorism agencies for radical jihadist views. –MC

Agency: Military retirees harmed by pension scam
Karen Jowers, Military Times 
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is suing two companies that have lied to customers about pension advance loan risk. Military retirees are known to have been among those deceived. –MC

VA amends access rules for service dogs at facilities
Patricia Kime (@PatriciaKime), Military Times 
The Department of Veterans Affairs adjusted its rules to ensure service dogs can be brought to VA facilities. The new regulation will allow any trained service dog in VA facilities as long as it is under control by its handler. The rule will not extend to miniature horses. –MC

The Scout Report is a weekly analysis of news and events in the veterans and military family communities produced by the staff of ScoutComms, Inc. and is emailed each Monday morning except on holidays. Follow us on Twitter at @ScoutComms to get up to the minute news on defense and veterans issues all week. Did you get this as a forward?  Subscribe yourself for free here right now!

About Us: ScoutComms, Inc. is an award winning social enterprise communications, corporate social responsibility, and philanthropic strategy firm supporting veterans, military families and organizations committed to their well-being. Our mission is to empower veterans and military families through communications grounded initiatives and collaborative alliances that lead to greater awareness of veterans’ needs and expanded access to economic and social resource opportunities. We are one of the first Benefit Corporations, B-Corps, focused on veterans and military family issues in the nation. We accomplish our mission by supporting companies, non-profits and foundations who are providing programs and charitable giving efforts in support of veterans and military families. To learn more about what we can do for your organization visit our website at

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