ScoutReport – September 27, 2019
We won’t be impeaching anyone in this week’s ScoutReport but it still managed to be a busy week in the veterans and military family space despite all of the political happenings in town. Duke’s Fuqua School of Business released a study about the employer perception of veterans’ “people skills,” and our friends at Connecting Vets published a deep dive into the issues surrounding burn pits and the illnesses attributed to them. A lot of other issues in our community are being talked about, from suicide to caregivers, so make sure to check it all out. And keep an eye on your email, as we’ll soon be announcing an exciting opportunity for our friends to make a difference in the veterans community. – Fred
Research Shows Military Service Can Hurt Some Job Seekers’ Prospects
Veteran unemployment hovers below the national average. Most major corporations have dedicated veteran hiring programs. It’s a great time to be a veteran in the workforce, right? Not necessarily, according to new research out of Duke University’s business school, which has found that potential employers perceive veterans in specific ways that could narrow their workforce opportunities. Through a series of studies involving 3,000 people, researchers found that veterans are typecast as being unemotional order followers, “and are likely to be overlooked for jobs that leverage emotional intelligence and interpersonal and leadership skills.” The notion that military service does not teach leadership skills is absurd, but when you think of popular culture representations of military service—marching, charging hills on command, working through a strict chain of command—it is easier to see how ignorance could lead to lazy stereotypes. To counter these assumptions, the researchers recommend that veterans focus not only on describing what they have done in their lives, but to use their resumes and interviews to show that they have been in roles that are assumed to require emotional intelligence and leadership skills. The article notes that there is “little research on employers’ perceptions of military veterans, and how they may factor into the types of jobs veterans land when leaving the service.” This sounds like an important area of need to address in greater depth, to ensure not only that everyone wants to hire veterans, but that they are capable of hiring them for the jobs they are qualified for, not just the jobs that they are incorrectly perceived to be qualified for. – Brian Wagner, President of ScoutComms
Toxic exposure could soon kill more service members and veterans than suicide, advocates say
Abbie has authored a detailed series on a topic we’ve discussed a few times surrounding toxic exposure to service members from open burn pits overseas. The news is not getting any better with startling stories of healthy men and women succumbing to rare forms of cancer and dying impossibly young. Representatives of our friends at Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) are estimating that by next year deaths from toxic exposure related illnesses will outnumber those by suicide as they have counted some 10,000 illness related deaths since 2007. The issue only seems to be accelerating in importance and impact with each passing year. This is far from the slow burn of Agent Orange related illnesses so the pressure is on Congress, DoD and VA to address the dramatic sicknesses and exploding number of veterans and active duty service members falling ill. Most shocking is that the use of open burn pits continues to this day in deployed locations in spite of the growing consensus that the pits are the source of deadly sicknesses for those around them. Check out the whole series at the link above. -Fred Wellman, CEO & Founder of ScoutComms
Program to Prevent Suicide by Veterans Earns Bipartisan Support
One of the major goals of the Trump administration has been to significantly decrease suicide rates in the veteran community, and the administration’s Be Connected program is a unique instance of bipartisan collaboration on a policy favored by the president. The program “focuses on reaching veterans at risk for suicide” through outreach by members of veterans’ communities instead of by the federal government. Through Be Connected, veterans can access services like “health care or a pet sitter” that are often obstacles to treatment. Wanda Wright, director of the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services, said of the program, “It’s not just about health issues. It’s about all the determinants in your life that are barriers to services.” VA officials hope Be Connected will encourage veterans to take advantage of department services.
AMVETS plans massive Memorial Day motorcycle rally to replace Rolling Thunder’s ride
After more than 30 years, organizers of the annual Rolling Thunder Memorial Day ride announced last spring that they would no longer run it due to cost. However, AMVETS officials plan to sponsor a motorcycle-themed rally, “Rolling to Remember” to replace the ride. “(The goal) is to remember those who have yet to come home, to remember those who are in harm’s way, and to remember those who came home but are still struggling, to remember we as a country are still a long way to fulfilling our promises to those who served,” announced AMVETS National Commander Jan Brown.
The Army, Navy, and Air Force are banning all vaping products from the exchange
“Until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health departments to collect information on e-cigarette and vape products is complete, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service is removing these products from its assortment, effective close of business Sept. 30,” said Chris Ward, a spokesman for AAFES. The Navy is also removing products, while the Marines have yet to make to make a decision on whether or not they’ll participate in the ban.
VA under pressure to ease medical marijuana rules
Veterans organizations including the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars are collaborating to lobby for research into medical applications of cannabis, specifically to address chronic pain as well as high veteran suicide rates. Federal drug laws are major roadblocks to this effort, however, and while veterans groups point to the VA as a major barrier to cannabis access, the department has shifted responsibility to the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Justice Department. Pending legislation in the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee aim to resolve the issue of veterans finding themselves caught between federal and state drug laws, and several proposed bills have strong bipartisan backing.
Deported Army veteran returns to US in bid to become citizen
Miguel Perez Jr., an Army veteran with a green card as a permanent resident, recently arrived back in the U.S. for an immigration hearing after being deported to Mexico in 2018. Perez is one of several deported service members who have been pardoned by state governors, and his story has gained him nationwide support. Dr. David Ansell, who treated Perez for post-traumatic stress while in ICE custody, noted that treatment options for veterans are severely hindered by immigration services, saying, “People need treatment, not deportation.”
Expansion of veteran caregiver program delayed until at least next summer
Department of Veterans Affairs officials announced Wednesday they are delaying caregiver eligibility for those who care for a veteran who served pre-9/11 until June 2020. Currently, only families of veterans injured post-9/11 can be enrolled in the VA caregiver program. “We must provide our pre-9/11 caregivers the benefits and support they deserve. We plan to hold the VA accountable as they target this new deadline. Pre-9/11 caregivers have been waiting long enough for the benefits they need,” wrote Steve Schwab, CEO of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, in a statement.
Q&A: How the VHA’s Innovator’s Network Is Transforming Veteran Care
Dr. Ryan Vega, Executive Director at the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Innovation Ecosystem, shared about the work VHA’s Innovator’s Network (iNET) is doing to transform veteran care. “I believe VA and innovation have been synonymous for quite some time. VA has produced some of the most impactful healthcare innovations during the past few decades, such as barcode medication administration,” Vega explained. “VA medical centers across the country have been doing fantastic work long before we came along. What lacked was a coordinated network that brought these sites together and helped provide a framework to guide innovation activities.”
SCOUTCOMMS IN THE NEWS
VA Sets Up Innovation Center to Improve Health IT Infrastructure
The National Center for Collaborative Healthcare Innovation (NCCHI), a new center focused on innovation health IT, improving healthcare communication and collaboration, has been created by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). “The NCCHI is an important part of our strategy to be leaders in healthcare innovation and quality,” explained VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “The center is particularly exciting because it is uniquely designed as a catalyst to combine strengths from non-healthcare fields.” ScoutComms is one of Atlas’s partners supporting the VA’s effort to transform veteran care.