Military Families and Veterans Issues and Analysis
Monday, October 17, 2016
There is playoff baseball… hockey is back… Peter Sagan is cycling’s road racing world champion for the second year in a row… what a time to be alive! Please let me continue to live in this alternate reality.
This week’s Scout Report tackles a number of interesting issues we don’t get to talk about much including trends in charitable giving, the federal hiring preference for veterans, and work-life balance in the military. Perhaps with so much of the news cycle focused elsewhere, we’re getting to finally read about all the wonkiest subjects closest to our hearts. If so, I vote for stories about veterans in international development next.
Okay, friends. We can do this. Just 22 days and it’s over. Keep your cat videos close at hand for when things get out of hand. –LJ
The week ahead:
Tradeshows and Conferences:
None this week.
No hearings this week.
Think Tanks & Other Events:
None this week.
Veterans and Military Issues:
To Retain More Parents, The Military Offers A Better Work-Life Balance
Tom Bowman (@TBowmanNPR), National Public Radio
The military is known to be an especially difficult place to find the perfect balance between work and life, but through the Career Intermission Program, service members can take off one to three years while still receiving benefits and a small percentage of their monthly pay. Through programs like this, military personnel are taking time off to travel, study and in most cases, raise children, but many feel that commanders discourage participation. This intermission program put in place by the Pentagon is just one of the many efforts to help families and retain more women in the combat.–DD
Bottom line: The military has a clear reason for creating initiatives like the Career Intermission Program, which seek to reduce the brain drain that occurs when high-performing service members leave the military prematurely due to life circumstances that historically presented hurdles because there was no opportunity for a strategic pause in a military career. As the all-volunteer military has evolved, it has become clear to leaders that not everyone needs to serve 20-plus uninterrupted years, and that there is value in seeking to retain some service members who want or need to take a break from service. At the same time, commanders are inherently selfish. They have a mission to achieve and expectations to meet, and every service member counts. They don’t want anyone to take a break and leave them in the lurch, or perhaps they simply don’t understand the logic behind the Intermission Program. Either way, top-down policies won’t be fully felt until commanders are educated and encouraged to take the short term hit to help the military retain talent for the long term. The same problems have occurred in the past in getting commanders to let soon-to-depart service members attend transition assistance courses. Ultimately, the military strongly believes that flexibility and adaptability in personnel management is the future, but it needs to better educate commanders on the nature of programs like the CIP and also the value of such programs to the military’s strategic and operational objectives. –BW
Navy Federal to pay $23 million to misled customers; cute dog ads don’t compensate
Joe Davidson (@JoeDavidsonWP), The Washington Post
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently found the Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) guilty of deceiving hundreds of thousands of their consumers and ordered them to pay $23 million in compensation. NFCU was found to have frozen accounts, blocked debit cards and threatened to contact the military superiors of consumers with overdue debts. While the CFPB does not conduct their own criminal investigations, they are able to refer these cases to law officials. –AB
Bottom line: While Wells Fargo has made headlines recently for creating millions of fake accounts in customer’s names without their knowledge or consent. For our community, news that the bank had illegally repossessed more than 400 cars from service members further tarnished the bank’s name. Now, with recent revelations about Navy Federal, surely service members are going to have to really research and consider the options available to them when it comes to banking. For the CPFB, this is another victory for the financial well-being of service members and veterans. The agency, with Holly Petraeus leading its veteran and military family focused initiatives, has been a leader in drawing attention to predatory lenders, colleges, and now financial institutions. It hasn’t been going after the low hanging fruit, either. We hate to see instances of bad actors, particularly ones so embedded within military culture and life, turn out to be predators, and we want to see CPFB and others empowered to stand up for service members and veterans.–LJ
A new federal court ruling has huge significant for military reservists
Andrew Tilghman (@andrewtilghman), Military Times
Kevin Ziober, a Navy reservist, lost a lawsuit last week that may prove damaging to the rights of military reservists. At the beginning of a career at BLB Resources, Ziober signed a contract including an arbitration agreement that would prevent him from filing future lawsuits against the employer. This meant that when the company fired him just before deploying to Afghanistan, Ziober was unable to sue the employer and win his case against them. –MC
Bottom line: At first glance, Ziober’s case seems both outrageous and troubling, with the potential to undermine long-accepted assumptions about the protective power of USERRA. And for some, this ruling may create troubling consequences. Yet in my experience, arbitration agreements like the one signed by Ziober are the exception, not the rule, in many employment arenas. This ruling may have minimal impact on most reservists. But if this case stands, it not only should serve as encouragement for Congress to reexamine and strengthen USERRA to fill this loophole, but it also should warn reservists to avoid signing contracts that eliminate their ability to appeal employment decisions in court. It will be interesting to see if this advances any further in the courts, and also whether Congress—which has been relatively dysfunctional in the last few years—can come to any common agreement on resolving this issue in future military-related legislation. –BW
Veterans preference in federal hiring: Is it too strong?
Joe Davidson (@JoeDavidsonWP), The Washington Post
New allegations against the Justice Department have refocused discussions on whether or not the veterans preference in federal hiring is too strong. In the most recent case, the Justice Department was unable to hire a highly qualified non-veteran candidate due to the veteran preference and closed the application process as a result, only to reopen the application later with language that excluded veterans from the position. The question now is whether the Justice Department’s actions were unfair to the veteran competing for the job, or whether the preference was unnecessarily forcing them to bypass a more qualified non-veteran candidate. –MC
Bottom line: Veteran preference in federal hiring may become a bellwether for the future of veteran benefits as a whole. Just as we’ve seen with some military benefits, there has been an attempt to chip away at the benefits to which service members, their families, and veterans have become accustomed. As with other benefit reductions, this one causes reasonable people to disagree. A compelling case can be made for giving federal hiring managers more leeway to hire the best people for jobs whether they are a veteran or not. As taxpayers, don’t we want the most effective, efficient person working for us? Yet, where do the cuts end—that’s the question advocates will be asking. The federal hiring preference has allowed thousands of veterans to reenter public service as civil servants and bring valuable military experience to civilian workplaces. It’s a tough benefit to balance, particularly with such a large constituency of veterans who benefit from it or hope to. We looking forward to seeing advocates put up a good, but fair, fight on this. –LJ
Military-connected charities are popular during CFC but still see decline in contributions
Karen Jowers (@KarenJowers), Military Times
The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), an annual giving campaign for federal employees, has seen an decline in overall donations in recent years. Although military and veteran charities are some of the most popular throughout the campaign, the overall decline proposes issues for nonprofits that rely on funding. Seven new military and veteran serving nonprofits will be included in the 2016 campaign, which is expected to see no overall increase in donations. –MC
Bottom line: CFC is the biggest charitable push in the federal government. For decades it was the easy way for government employees and service members to give to nonprofits that had been vetted and approved by the government. The dip in giving is significant in the last few years and it can’t just be tied to there being less service members or the economy. It’s now easier than ever to find nonprofits that appeal to the individual giver and a host of nonprofits that are appealing to veterans, government employees and service members like never before. While the new approaches might help the military focused nonprofits it would be interesting to see what the correlation is between CFC giving and overall charitable giving in the same sectors. One of the unique things about CFC is that many of the nonprofits are often small and relatively unknown organizations while the veterans sector has grown dramatically in the last ten years. Many of those small organizations are going to struggle to get attention normally but could rely on CFC to help keep them afloat. Now it appears that outlet is drying up as well. Change is coming in the military and veteran nonprofit sector and it’s not going to be easy. –FPW
Behind closed doors, the U.S. military scrutinizes modern cases of valor for new Medals of Honor
Dan Lamothe (@DanLamothe), The Washington Post
Defense Secretary Ash Carter has directed a new strategy to ensure that war heroes are appropriately recognized for acts of valor, in which groups of senior officials closely review cases of service members who may potentially be eligible for the Medal of Honor. Officials are optimistic that new service members will be recognized, including some from the Air Force, which has smaller groups of troops. –MC
Bottom line: This is long overdue. There are simply not enough acts of bravery being recognized by the nation’s highest award for valor and the number from Operation Iraqi Freedom are staggeringly low. The Army has been especially reluctant in awarding the MoH so it’s time they look closely at the medals that were given and gather the information needed to process them to our nation’s highest award. It is impossible to believe that a war that went on for nine years has a fraction of the acts of valor that have been recognized. We hope that this review allows some much deserving service members to be honored and for their fellow veterans that served at their sides to be recognized for their sacrifices as well. –FPW
Transition from Military Service Powered by the Nonprofit Success Pack and Heroku
Over the next few years, more than a million service members will transition from military life to civilian life, and this transition isn’t an easy one to make. However, with the help of organizations like RP/6, these men and women have access to the support they need to succeed after the military. RP/6, in partnership with Salesforce, gives transitioning service members access to their fully responsive mobile app with their individual Action Plans backed up with useful resources. See what these resources mean to RP/6 and their clients in this video. –AB
Service Women’s Action Network creates survey to help shape first planning summit
The Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) recently initiated a survey for servicewomen and female veterans to help shape their upcoming planning summit. Answer the questions and let them know which pressing issues you would like to see represented at the November event. –KB
MYnd Analytics, Inc. announces ticker symbol change to “MYAN”
Client MYnd Analytics, which uses machine learning coupled with a brain scan to better predict psychoactive medication response, announced this past week that they are changing their trading symbol from “CNSO” to “MYAN.” This change will strengthen the MYND brand, as well as increase visibility of the company to potential investors. –KB
Big data and the prescription mix (PDF)
Jeff Staffer, The American Legion Magazine
Last week MYnd Analytics was featured in the American Legion magazine with CEO George Carpenter speaking on the effects of the right and the wrong psychoactive medications on patients. With the use of MYnd’s PEER technology, which utilizes an algorithm to compare an individual’s EEG results against a database of other results, physicians can better prescribe medications suited to the individual. This technology has the capacity to eliminate trial-and-error prescribing, which is only effective about a third of the time. –KB
Veteran Business Owners Pitch Ideas to Create Peace Through Entrepreneurship
When veterans leave the military, they bring with them the skills to adapt and overcome obstacles; all things needed to be a successful business owner. On October 25, VetImpact will be hosting its inaugural “Pitch for Peace Creation” in Alexandria, Va., where several veteran entrepreneurs will have an opportunity to pitch their ideas for conducting business in post-conflict and emerging markets to a panel of judges. VetImpact is a nonprofit consulting firm that advises veteran entrepreneurs to transform their ventures into profitable and sustainable international businesses. “Pitch for Peace Creation” participants include itabo, Strategic Resilience Group, ASSETT, Inc., and judges Steven Koltai and David Harmon. –DD
Veterans, Spouses Learn About Running Small Businesses
WWNY TV (@7NewsFox28), Military Matters
Last week, veterans and military spouses were in attendance at the Boots to Business Reboot program in Watertown, New York where they learned the fundamentals of starting and growing a small business. Offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration, participants completed a two-day entrepreneurship bootcamp at Jefferson Community College (JCC) and are now eligible to register for an eight-week, online course, “Foundations of Entrepreneurship”, led by instructors from the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University. Boots to Business Reboot offers training courses year-round across the nation. –DD
Advocates for female troops see Trump allegations as disturbing, disqualifying
Leo Shane III (@LeoShane), Military Times
Kate Germano, COO of the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN), was one of many women speaking out on behalf of female service members and veterans this past week, saying that allegations of sexual assault and harassment against Republican nominee Donald Trump raised issues about his readiness to be Commander in Chief. Germano, who along with her SWAN colleagues has been a vocal proponent of the military’s recent move towards gender integration in combat units, says that the election of Trump could mean a reversal of this policy and a step backwards for women’s rights in the military. –KB
Duty and Honor: How brands acknowledge and support active and retired members of the military, and what other brands can do to get involved
Chuck Kapelke, Association of National Advertisers
ANA Magazine recently highlighted The Home Depot Foundation’s best practices in support of our nation’s military and veterans. The Home Depot Foundation conducts an annual campaign, “Celebration of Service,” to rebuild and complete projects on veterans’ homes with teams of Home Depot employee volunteers. The Foundation also recently announced a $250 million commitment in support of veteran related causes. Most recently,The Home Depot Foundation committed $500,000 to Hurricane Matthew recovery efforts through Team Rubicon, Operation Blessing, Convoy of Hope, and the American Red Cross. –MC
Midland native Davidson nominated for trucking award
Midland Daily News
Hiring Our Heroes and its partner organizations in the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence Award have nominated three final contestants. The finalists, rookies in the trucking industry who recently transitioned from the military, are competing in an online voting contest to win a 2016 fully loaded Kenworth T680. Voting is open through November 11. –JG
Moves in the sector:
Meet Carl Prine, new U-T military and national security reporter
Carl Prine (@CarlPrineTweets), The San Diego Union-Tribune
Carl Prine, a Marine Corps and Army National Guard veteran and former reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, has moved to the San Diego Union-Tribune to serve as the paper’s military and national security reporter. To learn more about Carl and his journey from the military to journalism, we highly recommend checking out his Q&A in the Tribune. Congratulations on the new position, Carl! –MC
History-making Air Force General isn’t about ‘Firsts’
Oriana Pawlyk (@Oriana0214), Military.com
Lt. Gen Stayce Harris is the first female African-American to earn the rank of Air Force Lieutenant General. In 1976, she was among the first women to join the pilot training program as military personnel and later became a mobilization assistant to the commander at U.S. Africa Command. In a recent interview with Military.com, she said she is happy to bring diversity to military leadership and wants to do everything she can to prove it’s possible and encourage others to follow in her footsteps. –JG
Gen. Mark Milley, other soldiers provide aid after deadly Metrobus crash in D.C.
Lolita Baldor (@LBaldor), Associated Press
Gen. Mark Milley, Chief of Staff of the Army, was involved in responding to a DC Metrobus crash last Wednesday, while traveling in a convoy from Joint Base Andrews to Fort Meyer. Milley and two additional soldiers sprung into action, helping pull passengers out of burning cars, and providing medical assistance until ambulances arrived on-site. An official said that the other soldiers would like to stay anonymous, and were simply “using their military training to help others” because it was the right thing to do. –JG
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