ScoutReport – September 13, 2019
It’s been a long week in D.C., but at least Alabama hasn’t been hit by any hurricanes … yet. On a positive note, I get the rare privilege of congratulating a good friend and year group classmate of the Naval Academy, Jim Byrne, on his Senate confirmation as the new Deputy Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Jim is truly one of the good ones, and we are thrilled to see him serving his fellow veterans in this important role. There are a lot of great stories to read in this week’s ScoutReport, including new research on the Post-9/11 veteran experience and a huge monetary award to a Marine family dealing with toxic mold in their military housing. Check it out. Share it with your friends. Print it out, fold it up, mail it to your Aunt Sharon and tell her to stop procrastinating and sign up herself at the ScoutComms website today! – Fred
The American Veteran Experience and the Post-9/11 Generation
The Pew Research Center continues to release a steady stream of valuable data and insights on the veteran community. Their latest report focuses on the unique characteristics and experiences of the post-9/11 generation, including finding that this generation—which I belong to—is more likely to have deployed and served in a combat zone than previous generations. As a result of that experience, Pew found that nearly half of this generation has suffered “emotionally traumatic or distressing experiences,” and a “third say they sought professional help to deal with those experiences. In addition, 36% say that – regardless of whether they have sought help – they think they have suffered from post-traumatic stress.” Perhaps because of these different experiences, this generation is notably less likely than previous generations to say they felt proud of their military service after leaving. On another note, this generation gives high marks to the military for the job it does preparing them to serve, but is less complimentary of how the military prepares this generation’s members for the transition to civilian life. Pew found that post-9/11 veterans were “much more likely than those who served before them to say their readjustment to civilian life was difficult.” But nothing is simple when it comes to the veteran experience, so it is important to also note that more than 60% of post-9/11 veterans said that their military service helped them a lot or a little in their search for their first post-military job. As is true for any Pew or RAND report, there is a lot of data and insight to unpack, so I highly recommend reading the full report to see what they learned from their survey of the post-9/11 veteran community. – Brian Wagner, President of ScoutComms
Jury awards Marine Corps family more than $2 million for mold, health issues in privatized housing
In a landmark and staggering decision, a jury in San Diego awarded a Marine and his family over $2 million for the negative health impacts and expenses of living in a mold-infested home in privatized military housing. The housing was run by Lincoln Military Property Management in partnership with San Diego Family Housing, which denied that the house was dangerous. SDFH cited the family’s acceptance of the home when they moved in and noted only a single report of mold shortly before they moved out a year later. The Charvat family claimed that they and their two young children suffered a host of health issues including congestion, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, itchy skin, tightness in chest, dizziness, excessive headaches and wheezing. They said they found their home had visible microbial growth and contamination, water damage, elevated levels of moisture inside the home, deteriorated and crumbling drywall, defective appliances, and a “horrible, musty odor throughout the interior living spaces.” This case is notable for being the largest award among several lawsuits against privatized housing managers across the country. This issue has taken off lately as military families break their silence and demand better base housing than what many are forced to accept due to high living costs off base or lack of housing in the area. In response, Congress is setting up a number of investigations and laws, while housing companies have formed a political action committee to fight back against proposed regulations and changes to rules surrounding payments for subpar housing. In the meantime, Lincoln says they will appeal the decision. While privatized housing has provided many bases with new construction, it’s becoming clear that the older homes are absolutely falling apart and the companies’ ability to make a profit off of our military families is not balanced with the need to give them safe housing. –Fred Wellman, CEO & Founder of ScoutComms
High-Quality Mental Health Care for Veterans
High-quality mental health care–which is characterized by being effective, safe, timely, patient-centered, efficient and equitable–is important for the well-being of veterans and their loved ones. It’s a cost-effective path toward recovery that helps mitigate the consequences of mental health conditions, but is underused by veterans due in part to eligibility issues, a lack of insurance coverage and a shortage of providers. The VA has enacted measures to address these challenges, including the creation of outreach programs to “help veterans overcome logistical obstacles,” and funding from other sources has established community-based programs that work to connect veterans with mental health care. While the private sector’s efforts to provide veterans with high-quality care are useful, providers in VA settings are more likely to have training compliant with the VA’s mental health care delivery standards and are more likely to have experience delivering mental health care to members of the veteran community.
Her Own Toy Story: How A 6-Year-Old Girl’s Letter Launched ‘Plastic Army Women’
A six-year-old girl from Arkansas, named Vivian Lord, wrote a heartfelt letter to BMC Toys, expressing her desire to see the creation of toy girl Army figurines. Jeff Imel, President of BMC Toys, had been considering this idea for many years, but hadn’t moved forward previously due to budget constraints. Vivian’s letter arrived at a time when Imel was beginning to plan the upcoming production process, and the arrival of her letter gave him the final push. Green Army Women figurines will be available in the four classic Army figurine poses by Christmas 2020.
‘Maybe this is how Vietnam vets felt’: Americans who fought in Afghanistan wait to see how their war ends
Former Marines Ryan Clay and Anthony “Rocco” DePrimo share their experiences as Marines who served together in the largest single battle of the Afghan war, in which thousands of troops fought to take control of the Taliban stronghold of Marja nine years ago. Since returning home, former members of the platoon have struggled while others have flourished. DePrimo and Clay don’t know what to make of the seemingly never ending war, but are ultimately proud of what they’ve accomplished and hope for change.
Veteran Tech Entrepreneurial Systems
Veterans transitioning to entrepreneurship from military service have different considerations than other businesspeople when it comes to establishing tech startups. Veteran entrepreneurs must recognize the intersections between their physical location and industry ecosystems that can support their ventures; whereas many civilian entrepreneurs orbit Silicon Valley, a case study of the corridor from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore demonstrates that veterans’ businesses can thrive in ecosystems outside the quintessential startup hub. Additionally, experienced veteran entrepreneurs are developing resources to help their younger counterparts “launch a new generation of veteran-founded companies.”
Court rules VA must pay for veterans’ emergency room care, a decision that may be worth billions
The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims ruled Monday that the Department of Veterans Affairs must reimburse veterans for emergency medical care received at non-VA facilities. Bart Stichman, executive director of the National Veterans Legal Services Program, said, “The Court’s decision rights a terrible injustice and its order ensures that veterans who were unjustly denied reimbursement for critical emergency treatment at non-VA facilities will finally be reimbursed.” The VA could be looking at anywhere from $1.8 billion to $6.5 billion in reimbursements, according to the plaintiffs’ lawyers.
Younger Vets Are on a Mission to Change the American Legion from Within
Post-9/11 veterans are working to change the image of the American Legion, bringing it back to a focus on community service and family-oriented programs. Derric Grimes, an Army veteran and a member of the post in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, said, “At some point in time, the American Legion … and other legacy service organizations, switched from being a community-centered focal point to being an exclusive social club. And that is switching back.”