ScoutReport – April 17, 2020
The ScoutReport is looking a little different this week, as we previously mentioned that our Founder and CEO Fred Wellman has traveled to New York City to serve as the Chief of Staff of the Ryan F. Larkin NewYork-Presbyterian Field Hospital. The field hospital is staffed by nearly 200 veterans from around the country serving in medical and support roles. Veterans who have high quality training that they received during military service have come together to use these in-demand skills to treat COVID-19 patients with mild to moderate symptoms. You can find out more about this incredible initiative here! We are proud to support Fred while he serves those in need during this time of crisis, as we continue serving our clients throughout these unprecedented times. – Kiersten
Veterans groups step up efforts to help with coronavirus financial challenges and isolation
In continuation of our coronavirus coverage and how the military-connected community is being impacted, we selected this article written by Leo Shane for this week’s primary analysis. Veterans service organizations have always been quick to do whatever they can to provide assistance to the population. During this time of crisis, they are doubling down on those efforts. Top priority is to perform outreach and connect veterans to needed services, despite illness-mandated isolation. For veterans in need of financial resources, organizations like PenFed Foundation, Wounded Warrior Project and Disabled American Veterans are offering cash grants to qualifying veterans to help with rent, groceries and utility bills. My family received a welcomed and completely unexpected care package the other week from Semper Fi Foundation, who is providing food baskets and gift cards to veterans living with disabilities. Direct financial aid from Semper Fi Foundation is also available to service members and veterans facing economic hardship at this time. For military-connected families who don’t need financial assistance, but are in the position to donate, many organizations are seeking donations. Some cities and states are offering emergency payments, as well. The article notes how important it is for service organizations to continue to provide assistance to veterans in navigating already existing benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Hopefully, a positive outcome we may see from this is a movement to streamline certain aspects of benefits processing, which is ripe with bureaucratic barriers and hurdles, paid at the expense of veterans and/or their caregivers and family members. According to the article, the VA has waived the need for ink signatures on documents and promised relaxed rules for submitting some paperwork. Hurrah! Let’s continue down this path of uncovering non-essential processes that the institution does indeed have the ability to change. –Kiersten Downs, PhD, Research Director at ScoutComms
The military has been averaging more than 100 new troops a day with COVID-19
As of Tuesday morning, 2,618 troops have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the average number of diagnoses a day in the military being between 100 and 200. Department of Defense civilians have been hit the hardest during the pandemic so far, with contractors being a close second. For both of these groups, ages of the people infected are spread out. DoD’s death rate at 0.3 percent continues to be lower than the general death rate in the United States, which is at 4 percent. However, that number is continuing to increase as more cases arise. Nearly 600 people aboard the Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier have tested positive, and the Navy continues to be the branch with the most positive cases of COVID-19, at 950 diagnoses. The Army is second with 602 cases, followed by the Air Force at 294 and the Marine Corps at 206. The National Guard has reported 522 cases. To note, the Navy’s large number of cases could be attributed to the widespread testing in the service compared to the other branches.
Man arrested, accused of trying to sell millions of nonexistent masks to the VA
39-year-old Christopher Parris from Atlanta, Georgia was arrested on Monday for allegedly trying to sell millions of nonexistent respiratory masks to the Department of Veterans Affairs, and asking for large amounts of money upfront in exchange. He was charged in federal court in Washington, D.C. with wire fraud. Parris allegedly promised that he could acquire millions of 3M masks from United States factories, and would have exchanged these for a total of over $750 million. The Department of Justice is taking cases of people exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic for money very seriously, and they are “committed to protecting the integrity of taxpayer funds and ensuring the delivery of medical necessary to provide quality healthcare to our nation’s veterans.” VA Inspector General Michael J. Missal stated that anyone exploiting the pandemic for their own personal gain will be dealt with swiftly.
Sailor From USS Theodore Roosevelt Dies From Covid-19
Earlier this week, a U.S. sailor from the USS Theodore Roosevelt died from complications of COVID-19. The crew member was reportedly diagnosed with the virus in late March and passed away on April 9 while in isolation at the U.S. naval base in Guam. Over 2,500 American service members have tested positive for the virus, and the Roosevelt was reportedly “stricken with the largest novel coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. military.” The Roosevelt has also been in the news recently as Capt. Brett Crozier “distributed a memo demanding more attention to the outbreak” on the aircraft carrier and was subsequently relieved of duty by then-Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, who later resigned amid widespread criticism over his decision to remove Capt. Crozier.
Congresswoman, Navy vet calls for cheaper prescriptions for military families, retirees
Congresswoman and Navy veteran Elaine Luria (D-VA) is leading a group of lawmakers in urging the federal government to “temporarily eliminate copays on mail-order prescriptions” for Tricare beneficiaries during the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to “ease this unexpected financial burden on veterans and their families.” As obstacles including social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders prevent many from accessing installation pharmacies, mail-order services are filling the vacuum though users must still pay copays for their medication. Rep. Luria said in a recent press release, “By temporarily eliminating the copay on mail-order prescriptions, we can ensure that Tricare beneficiaries can access their medicine without endangering themselves or others.”
Trump’s war against the Postal Service could have another casualty: tens of thousands of military veterans with disabilities
The economic issues facing the United States Postal Service put its veteran employees, who number in the tens of thousands, at risk. Recently the USPS acknowledged that “it would continue to lose $2 billion every month that it remains operational during the pandemic” due to a “lack of mail volume and the increase in operating costs.” Another significant issue is a law passed in 2006 requiring the USPS to “prefund its own cost of future benefits for retirees,” which no other government agency or private corporation is required to pay. The USPS employs about 100,000 veterans–and reportedly estimated that over 60% of its veteran employees are disabled–but the agency is expected to run out of funding by September. Paul Barner, the assistant secretary-treasurer to the National Association of Letter Carriers union, commented, “I think that the biggest part of the impact to veterans, should something happen to the Postal Service, is that by being a large civilian employer, that opportunity would be gone. And not only does it affect veterans, but particularly disabled veterans…that have preferential eligibility.”
Facebook, VA will give away video-calling devices to connect veterans
The Department of Veterans Affairs and Facebook are giving 7,400 Portals, Facebook’s video-calling device, to help veterans keep in touch with loved ones. Portals require a Facebook account and allows the user to call their Facebook friends or a WhatsApp account. Veterans must be enrolled in a VA caregiver support program or a geriatrics and extended care program. “Our goal is for veterans to feel less isolated through more communication. We believe this technology will help veterans who might otherwise be unreachable,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said.
Organizations supporting veterans, troops making changes in response to coronavirus
Organizations that support veterans and deployed troops are having to make some changes due to the spread of the coronavirus. In order to continue their support, ScoutComms’ client Soldier’s Angels has shifted their focus to making masks and having care packages delivered to deployed troops. Currently, the organization is struggling with a shortage of hand sanitizer, which they would normally include in their care packages. USO is offering digital support by providing online games, streaming concerts and even setting up devices so that deployed service members can keep in contact with their loved ones at home. Both organizations have opportunities for digital and virtual volunteering, along with donation options on their websites.
ScoutComms Intern Perspectives: Working From Home
As we all continue to face the challenges coming from COVID-19, each one of the incredible ScoutComms interns shared their perspectives about working from home! Check out their blog posts to learn about their experience transitioning to a remote internship, and discover some tips and challenges they’ve overcome while working remotely.
April ScoutInsight Monthly Spotlight: A Glimpse into the History of the American Beer Industry
ScoutInsight is continuing our exploration of the world of craft brewing, this time with a look into the history of the American beer industry and how we got where we are today. From the invention of beer to prohibition – read on for an overview on the basics of beer in the U.S. and stick around for some insight from a brewery owner!
The Veterans Research Network
ScoutInsight, the market research division of ScoutComms, is building a unique online research community of veterans, service members, military family members and caregivers. Through the Veterans Research Network, you will be able to share your opinions and knowledge with decision-makers running the organizations that impact your lives. We would be honored if you would register to be part of this standing panel for future surveys, polls and focus groups on issues that matter and help shape impactful programs for our community. It’s secure and we will never share your personal data with anyone. Learn more here at VeteransResearchNetwork.com and share it with your eligible friends and family!
Military Times and ScoutComms Partner on Annual ‘Best for Vets’ Ranking Surveys
We are thrilled to announce the partnership between ScoutComms and Military Times on the annual ‘Best for Vets’ Employers and Colleges rankings. ScoutInsight, our data analytics and market research team, will provide the research and survey analysis behind the annual surveys in a multi-year effort. The Best for Vets: Employers 2020 Survey is open now! We’re urging every company, nonprofit and government agency to take the survey, learn from it and find out where they stand as a supporter of this important community. Learn more here.
The material in this issue of the ScoutReport may contain difficult discussions about mental health and suicide. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of harming themselves or someone else, please contact:
Veterans Crisis Line: 1‑800‑273‑8255 x1
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
If you or someone you know is struggling with challenges in life and need a fellow veteran and military community member to talk to, we recommend our client Vets4Warriors – a free, 24/7 peer-to-peer support network: