May 31, 2019
Well, it’s been another crazy week in Washington…and Japan. In happy news we are thrilled to announce the promotion of Brian Wagner from COO to President of ScoutComms after five years of hard labor putting up with his difficult boss. We’ve been out in force supporting the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans Annual Conference for the 7th year. In the crazy world much of America discovered it’s really hard to hide a ship and how the military chain-of-command works all at the same time in the last 24 hours. More importantly though we look at the quiet physical effects of military service being addressed and the challenges faced by an important memorial in Arlington National Cemetery. We hope you had a good Memorial Day and remembered those you may have lost in service and their families. As always we appreciate you being a loyal reader and sharing our newsletter with your friends and colleagues. – Fred
Arthritis is prevalent in the military. This Army veteran wants to help
USA Today, Kirk Bado (@Kirk_Bado)
Using veteran Celena Adams-Locke’s Army service and post-service life as a focal point, USA Today highlights on one of the less enduring challenges of modern military service: how the rigors of the lifestyle can have small but increasingly degradative effects on the human body. While we talk urgently about the suicide epidemic, traumatic brain injuries, and other high-profile physical and mental health injuries, arthritis and other incremental conditions borne of repetitive stress gradually impact a large population of service members and veterans. According to the CDC, 1 in 3 veterans suffer from arthritis—a notably higher rate than non-veterans—and it is second only to combat-related injuries as a cause of honorable discharges. The wear-and-tear of the military lifestyle is clearly the culprit, and while it is impossible to avoid physically challenging activities while serving, there needs to be a much greater focus on rest and recovery, which is not just smart in prolonging the ability of people to serve, but also will reduce future healthcare costs for the government. We also need to teach service members to look after themselves and encourage preservative activities, whether that be stretching, yoga, physical therapy, or simply taking off a day between workouts in the gym. I’m unfortunately quite familiar with this phenomenon; while deployed to Afghanistan, I significantly overdid my weightlifting workouts as my primary form of both recreation and stress relief. Those activities, combined with traveling around the country in body armor with a rucksack often slung unbalanced on one shoulder, resulted in a spine injury that has been impacting my physical health for nearly a year now. Our CEO Fred has had both his knees replaced as a result of the rigors of military service. The military has an obligation not to push service members to their breaking point, and service members need to be equally encouraged and incentivized to look after and listen to their bodies so that arthritis and other gradually crippling physical conditions are not a hallmark result of service. – Brian Wagner, President of ScoutComms
Female Veterans, and a Memorial to Them, Struggle to Honor Women Who Served
New York Times, Jennifer Steinhauer (@jestei)
It’s hard to miss the Women in Military Service for America Memorial when you visit Arlington National Cemetery. The Memorial occupies a prime location having replaced a grand entrance to the cemetery that had fallen into disrepair over the decades. Eventually, famed Air Force Brigadier General Wilma Vaught hatched the idea to turn it into a memorial for the many women who have served in uniform and the organization behind the memorial was born in 1985, leading to the renovated and updated facility opening in 1997. The Memorial has faced an uphill climb since its inception to find the funds to expand, maintain and showcase the important achievements of women. As the story mentions, BG Vaught even auctioned off a million dollar house, rumors have it being her own, with Lynda Carter of TV’s ‘Wonder Woman’ pulling the winning ticket. Now, D.C. faces a line of new military memorials in varying stages of production including ones for the Gulf War and the Global War on Terror that compete for attention, donors and support. One thing we are hearing more and more of these days is that a shifting of attention in the nation is leaving many nonprofits wanting for funds as much of large charitable giving is focused on ‘impact’ vs. honoring service. Companies and donors that were easy to count on in earlier days now face the competing demands of an almost 18 year war and other growing social issues demanding attention in a very tough time in American history for their limited charitable dollars. In the end great organizations with important missions can suffer and WIMSA is one of them. They report that they are finding firmer ground and the facility has a great theater and gallery for events that makes it more than just a place of memory. We are in a time when women are the fastest growing demographic in that veterans community and their service deserves to be honored. We recommend you pay it a visit and learn more about the beautiful memorial at their website. – Frederick P. Wellman, CEO & Founder of ScoutComms
We have exciting news as we’re proud to announce that Brian Wagner, who joined the company in 2014 and previously served as VP and COO, will become the company’s first President, taking over responsibility for all business operations and overseeing day-to-day operations of our 8-year-old public relations, marketing and research firm. Click here to read the full press release.
White House Wanted USS John McCain ‘Out of Sight’ During Trump Japan Visit
Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Ballhaus and Gordon Lubold (@rebeccaballhaus @glubold)
It appears that White House officials directed Navy leaders in Japan to move or obscure the USS John S. McCain prior to the visit by President Trump to avoid him seeing the ship. Pictures emerged of the ship currently being repaired after a collision last year with tarps covering its name on Friday that were reportedly removed when senior Navy officials intervened and countermanded the orders to hide the ship. Trump denies any knowledge of the situation but defended his staff as “well meaning” in their efforts.
Seth Moulton discloses PTSD, unveils military mental health proposal
Politico, Alex Thompson (@AlxThomp)
Presidential candidate Rep. Seth Moulton opened up about receiving mental health treatment relating to his experiences from his combat deployments as a Marine. As a Presidential hopeful, Moulton’s disclosure about his mental health is a first in the current era of those in running.
Falling enrollment in VA’s caregiver program raises concerns
Military Times, Leo Shane III (@LeoShane)
There is concern that VA’s caregiver program is not being properly administered, and it is causing enrollment rates to decline. VA officials state that they are actively searching for a solution, in light of upcoming expansion plans for caregiver stipends. Veterans Health Administration Acting Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health Steven Lieberman states that if they fail to meet their obligations to veterans and caregivers, they will halt their plans to expand.
Nonprofits Struggle to Reach At-Risk Veterans Who Shun VA Services
Military Times, Richard Sisk (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Due to a fractured system of care in which veterans choose not to go the Department of Veteran Affairs for support or feel alienated by the over 40,000 related support groups registered as nonprofits, the VA has been taking steps to address the estimated 20 veterans who die by suicide daily through the employment of “suicide prevention coordinators” and community support through nonprofits to fill in the gaps. In response to the “Parking Lot” suicides happening outside of the VA, Congress has called for legislation for additional funding for more research on suicides, and have further spurned the need of the community to be involved in a “community-focused public health model to prevent veteran suicide.”
PEOPLE ON THE MOVE
President Trump has announced plans to nominate Jim Hutton to be the Department of Veterans Affairs’ new Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs. Hutton, currently serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the VA, previously served as VA’s Executive Director of Public Affairs and Director of Media Relations. He is a retired Army Colonel and also worked with our former client TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) as director of communications before joining the VA.
Vets4Warriors Director Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Mark Graham on Mornings with Joe Catenacci
Mornings with Joe Catenacci (@JoeCats19)
Vets4Warriors (V4W) Director Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Mark Graham was interviewed on Mornings with Joe Catenacci, discussing the need to address challenges before they become a crisis. V4W is an accessible community of peers who specifically want to help those in need through listening, support and encouragement. For 24/7 confidential peer support, call 855-838-8255 or visit Vets4Warriors.com.
Scaling Up Best Practices Across the VA
Healthcare Innovation, @DavidRaths
Executive Director of the VHA Innovation Ecosystem in the Office of Discovery, Education and Affiliate Networks, Ryan Vega, M.D., spoke with Healthcare Innovation for a featured Q&A about the Veterans Health Administration Innovation Ecosystem’s mission and how they are creating both a network of innovators and a diffusion of innovation across VA medical centers to deliver better care for veterans.