ScoutReport – August 16, 2019
It’s been another crazy week in Washington! It’s so bad our company president, Brian Wagner, actually fled the country, although he claims it was a “long scheduled vacation.” Sure…Tucker. Sure. In the meantime the rest of us have been working on some great clients efforts, including our newest client Soldiers’ Angels, who are providing some really cool programs for service members and veterans. It’s especially exciting for me as a Soldiers’ Angels member adopted me to send care packages when I was in Iraq for my second tour and my wife had to manage four kids all alone. The debate on gun violence continued and I appeared on the ‘Two Broads Talking Politics’ podcast with my fellow veterans from the Left of Bang Gun Violence Working Group. We’ve got stories on our old friends at Wounded Warrior Project and some rare bipartisanship in D.C., as well as some great media hits for our clients at Brady, Vets4Warriors and the Human Resources Certification Institute. Check it out…share it with your friends…print it and drop it in leaflets in your neighborhood! Hopefully Brian survives the mountains of Peru and is back next week! – Fred
After Public Crisis and Fall from Grace, Wounded Warrior Project Quietly Regains Ground
We had the privilege of working with Wounded Warrior Project for two years as they navigated a major crisis in leadership and reputation and set out on a new path under CEO, and fellow 101st Airborne Iraq veteran, Mike Linnington. Many had counted WWP out, often with a truly strange glee, as they dealt with a series of stories and accusations surrounding spending and leadership that in the end proved to be not entirely accurate, but left them with a huge loss in donations. Throughout it all, WWP and its staff managed to continue growing the number of wounded veterans and families they served and finding partners to invest in programs that meet their needs. Linnington has quietly moved forward without re-fighting the accusations against his predecessors and keeping the staff focused on making an impact. They have done just that and have established themselves again as a critical member of the veteran service community through direct impact and funding important efforts, like our friends at the Elizabeth Dole Foundation for Military Caregivers and others. We shouldn’t celebrate any VSO in the sector suffering because in the end it hurts the entire community and, most importantly, our veterans and their families. -Fred Wellman, CEO & Founder of ScoutComms
Investigators find $53 million in improper medical bills for veterans
One thing that can bring both parties in Congress together is screwing veterans still. That spirit of cooperation and bipartisanship was on full display this week when 35 House and Senate members sent a letter to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs demanding answers into a recent report that found more than $53 million in emergency room costs for veterans improperly rejected by department officials. It appears that more than 17,000 veterans were left dealing with unpaid medical bills, many facing collections and credit report hits from the mistaken processing. The number of veterans affected is a subset of some $716 million in improperly processed payments from 2017, found by the VA’s own Inspector General. Most were resolved, but 7% were not and left patients to deal with the mistakes. VA for its part says they have implemented a host of changes to make sure these now 2-year old mistakes are not made again and new claims are processed appropriately. There is more concern than ever as the Choice Act goes into effect and more veterans will be seeking care outside of the VA system that will need to be processed and paid. But, for now, a rare moment of bi-partisanship is occurring…so that’s something. -Fred Wellman, CEO & Founder of ScoutComms
Air Force Chief grapples with suicide scourge: ‘I don’t have a solution’
David Goldfein, the Air Force’s top officer, has been faced with the number of suicides that occur in the military many times over the course of his career. The earliest incident being an airman who killed himself under his command in the 1990s. Due to the severity of the topic, Goldfein has spoken out against suicide at conferences, and has pointed to programs that specialize in helping those who may be suffering from suicidal thoughts. He has ordered airmen to visit the Air Force basic training graduation ceremonies, hoping that the sight of the hope on the young airmen’s faces would remind them why they are here. However, this approach has not worked, and Goldfein has stated that he does not know what can be done to prevent suicide in the military. Though the answer is not clear, Goldfein stated that it is up to the leaders to do everything they can to prevent further suicides from happening.
Army Doctors in El Paso Surged to Care for Victims of Mass Shooting
The Army medical community who worked to treat victims of the recent mass shooting in El Paso, Texas said the emergency room scene was like a war zone, except that none of the wounded had been protected by body armor. Army Lt. Col. Justin Orr, the orthopedic trauma surgeon on call at Del Sol Medical Center, along with many others, came together to treat victims who suffered from high-velocity gunshot wounds that had grave effects on the un-armored civilians. They worked in organized chaos, triaging patients and operating quickly to limit long-term damage. Though the injuries weren’t atypical for the residents, they relied on their training and experience to account for the atypical volume. Capt. Josh Tadlock, a third-year orthopedic resident said, “To be able to be part of the group of people who took care of the people in the city … it’s a unique experience that I hope I never have to do again, but I am very grateful and humbled to have been part of it.”
Panthers, Soldiers’ Angels Team Up to Provide Lunch for Veterans
The Florida Panthers joined forces with Soldiers’ Angels to serve veterans of West Palm Beach VA Medical Center for Purple Heart Day. Last November, Soldiers’ Angels was awarded a Florida Panthers Foundation grant that helped fund hygiene kits and blankets to VA Hospitals in the community. “We’re very honored to be here today at the West Palm Beach VA with the Florida Panthers,” said Soldiers’ Angels Vice President of Development Jennifer Cernoch. “We received a grant, one of your community grants. This is a way for us to give back and work with all of you from the Panthers, to volunteer. We’re so excited that they’re here and allow us to serve these veterans.”
Transitioning Troops, Student Veterans Can Bolster Civilian Careers with Certifications
Veteran service organization Student Veterans of America (SVA) and career institution HR Certification Institute (HRCI) display their commitment to serving transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses by assisting in their career goals. HRCI created a program tailored to bridge the gap between military and civilian HR by waiving application fees for Professional in Human Resources certifications. SVA partnered with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families’ Onward to Opportunity program focused on providing professional certifications without cost, including multiple HRCI certifications. Thanks to both HRCI and SVA’s efforts, these career-oriented service members can stand out from the competition.
Why women veterans are 250% more likely than civilian women to commit suicide
The efforts that women veterans make in order to blend in with their male counterparts often lead them to feel ostracized when transitioning back to civilian life. Spaces created for the benefit of veterans are often not welcoming to women veterans and offer them limited services and care systems. This leads to compounded challenges for women who also report feeling a lack of social support and increased social alienation comparative to their male counterparts. With more than 2 million women veterans in the U.S., it is necessary to be on the lookout for women veterans, offer support through welcoming them into veteran spaces and encourage institutions and organizations to prioritize the often invisible challenges that women veterans face.
Answering the Call
Vets4Warriors is a confidential, 24/7 peer support network for the military and veteran communities. The network is staffed fully by former members of the military, all working to connect callers with a nonjudgmental ear to listen and resources they need to improve their lives. Vets4Warriors is not intended to be a crisis hotline, but instead works to prevent a crisis from happening. Members of the military and veteran communities can call Vets4Warriors for any questions they may have, or if they just need somebody to talk to. From feelings of anxiety, depression or isolation to needing help dealing with relationships or finances – a Vets4Warriors peer is ready to answer the call and provide you with the resources you need. You can connect with Vets4Warriors by calling 855-838-8255 or by visiting www.vets4warriors.com.
SCOUTCOMMS IN THE NEWS
Episode 269: Left of Bang
During episode 269 of the popular podcast “Two Broads Talking Politics,” Kelly hosts a group of five veterans who have formed a gun violence prevention group called Left of Bang. Veterans Travis Akers, Kristin Beck, Naveed Jamali, Naveed Shah and Fred Wellman created Left of Bang with the shared mindset that preventing gun violence will not be successful if we are waiting to hear a shot, and that the issue needs to be handled before tragedies take place. The group discusses practical ways to secure your weapon, and as gun owners themselves, they express the sentiment that there is no reason to have a weapon on your person at all times.