Russian Online Disinformation Targeting Veterans Has No Proven Effect

This sounds like much to do about nothing:

Russian trolls and others aligned with the Kremlin are injecting disinformation into streams of online content flowing to American military personnel and veterans on Twitter and Facebook, according to an Oxford University study released Monday.

The researchers found fake or slanted news from Russian-controlled accounts are mixing with a wide range of legitimate content consumed by veterans and active-duty personnel in their Facebook and Twitter news feeds. These groups were found to be reading and sharing articles on conservative political thought, articles on right-wing politics in Europe and writing touting various conspiracy theories.  [Washington Post]

Sounds scary right that the US military is being influenced by Russian misinformation?  Here is what the study really found out:

The kind of information shared by and with veterans and active-duty personnel span a wide range, with liberal political content also common, though not as common as conservative political content. The online military community, the researchers found, also shared links about sustainable agriculture, mental health issues such as addiction, and conspiracy theories.

No one subject dominated the online content flowing among these communities, but the largest individual categories dealt with military or veteran matters. Russian disinformation was a smaller but significant and persistent part of the overall information flow.

So basically the Russian disinformation was irrelevant.  This article could not even cite one piece of disinformation that had any effect on veterans.  The Washington Post even headlines this story with “Russian operatives used Twitter and Facebook to target veterans and military personnel, study says”.  The Washington Post could have more accurately titled this article “Study Finds Veterans Follow Military and Veterans Matters Online; Russian Disinformation Has No Proven Effect”.

The bottom line is that the Internet is filled with disinformation and people need to use critical thinking to sift through what is real and what is not.

Leftist Newsletter Advocates for Removal of US Military Veterans from College Campuses

It sounds like someone decided to publish something outrageous to get it to go viral to bring attention to their newsletter.  If that was the plan it worked:

A newsletter posted on the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) campus is starting to make the rounds on social media and it states veterans should be banned from four-year universities. Several viewers asked 11 News to look into the origin of the newsletter.

The letter states military veterans should be banned from classes and compares the military culture to white supremacist groups.

The newsletter is titled “Social Justice Collective Weekly” and says it is the first issue. A spokesperson for UCCS said the newsletter has nothing to do with the school and does not represent the institution’s views. However, it was approved by the university and posted on a bulletin board. The school says anyone is allowed to post items on the board.

The university explained while this group is not affiliated with the college, they say it is free speech and the group can post what they want.

The article says veterans should be banned from UCCS and other four-year colleges. It also generalizes veterans and says they are unsympathetic to the LGBTQ community. The article says all veterans have far right-wing ideologies.  [KKTV]

You can read more at the link, but I think the real story with this is if the university would have allowed a racist hate group to distribute such a newsletter around campus?

Also of note is that I got to learn from this newsletter what a LGBTQQIP2SAA is.

Why Do Veterans Have A High Attrition Rate In the US Government Work Force?

It would be interesting to see what the leading causes for veterans leaving government jobs is since the article does not really provide one.  I think it could be the difference in culture where in the military you have a team and can do attitude that maybe is not replicated in the government sector.  Does anyone else have any theories on the high attrition rate?:

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The share of federal jobs going to veterans is at its highest level in five years, new data shows, with former servicemembers comprising almost half of full-time hires in the last fiscal year.

One in three people in government is now a veteran, proof that the White House’s six-year push to give those who served in the military a leg up in the long hiring queue for federal jobs is working.

The bad news is that once veterans get into government, they don’t stay long. They’re more likely to leave their jobs within two years than non-veterans, the Office of Personnel Management reports, even if they’ve transferred from other federal agencies.

The Small Business Administration had the most trouble keeping veterans in fiscal 2014, with just 62 percent staying two years or more, compared to 88 percent of non-veterans. Former service members left the Commerce Department at similar rates, with 68 percent staying two years or more compared to 82 percent for non-veterans.

Even the Department of Veterans Affairs, traditionally a draw for former troops, lost a little more than a quarter of its veterans within two years, compared to 20 percent of its non-veterans.

The only agencies that kept more veterans than non-veterans on board were the Defense and State Departments, the report released last month shows.

The growing presence in government of men and women with military backgrounds is the most visible federal effort to reward military service since the draft ended in the 1970s. President Barack Obama pushed agencies to increase hiring of veterans starting in 2009, in response to the bleak employment prospects many service members faced after coming home from Afghanistan and Iraq.

The initiative has fueled tensions in federal offices, though, as longtime civil servants and former troops on the other side of the cubicle question each other’s competence and qualifications.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

Will Hollywood Ever Change Its Stereotypical Views Of Veterans ?

I don’t see Hollywood changing their stereotype of military veterans any time soon even with this film festival:

My stepbrother is in the military, and he always wishes that the movies would be a better advocate for the American soldier,” actor Ethan Hawke said during an interview to promote “Good Kill,” a new drama about drone warfare. “Hollywood has a bad habit of either being so nationalistic and flag-waving that it kind of dehumanizes everybody and makes it a recruitment tool, or being so left-wing with conspiracy theories that project all of this negativity. Of course, the truth is somewhere in the middle.”

The GI Film Festival opens in Washington this week in its ninth year as a corrective to the one-dimensional portrayals that many observers fear have influenced how the public sees the military. The festival runs May 18 through May 24 and features 60 movies, including shorts, documentaries, comedies and dramas. All are either made by veterans or feature military characters.

At a time when only 0.5 percent of the population is on active duty, many in the military community argue that even the cinema offerings that attempt to give a sympathetic portrayal of soldiers and veterans — such as the acclaimed “American Sniper” — end up breeding harmful stereotypes.

Recent films have also portrayed vets as murderers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (“In the Valley of Elah,” “Redacted”); as deserters suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (“Stop-Loss”); and as mavericks so addicted to combat that they can’t reintegrate into American society (“The Hurt Locker”).

“People believe what they see in the movies,” said Laura Law-Millett, a veteran who founded the GI Film Festival with her civilian husband, Brandon Millett. “If someone had seen some of these films who had never met anyone in the military, prior to about 2007, they would say, ‘Oh, so everyone who joins the Army becomes a drug dealer or a rapist or a murderer?'”  [Washington Post]

You can read more at the link, but with Bush out of office the amount of movies and documentaries depicting troops as murderers and rapists seems to have decreased.  It seems now they focus more on veterans being heroic or broken from PTSD. 

Is This A Sign of US Military Veteran Entitlement?

This sounds more like the spouse thinking she wears the rank of the servicemember their married to:

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My wife and I own a couple of smoothie/food shops. As small-business entrepreneurs, we take a lot of pride in providing 55 jobs while making payroll every week, all self-financed as saved- and scrimped-for investment capital. As owners, we choose to offer a 10 percent discount to first-responders and active-duty/reserve military and guardsmen. Which is where I get to my rub.

Recently, I had a military spouse grow irate with my cashier because we didn’t offer a discount to military family members. Unfortunately, this is not the first time this has happened. I guess I could stop offering any discount at all to the military, but would rather not. In this particular case, my cashier was on the receiving end of a very long tirade about how obviously unappreciative ownership must be of the sacrifices of the military family. The woman ended by stating “it would be in the owner’s best interest” to offer discounts to families as well. I wish I was there to find out exactly what she meant beyond her vague threat.

Her response, I believe, had nothing to do with my veteran-owned business being unappreciative of military families (we know firsthand about the hardships endured on the home front), and everything to do with the growing sense in our active and retired military community that as a group its members should be catered to because of their service. This is terribly misplaced and hurts civil-military relations, as well as sullies our service to this great nation.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link,but no business should be expected to give military discounts like this woman wanted.

Stolen Sword Returned to Korean War Veteran Decades Later

Here is a pretty cool story involving a Korean War veteran:

Early last month, Chip Herrington was headed back to Alabama, where he lives, from Mississippi, where he happened to be working that day. As he drove, Herrington, an attorney, saw some antique and pawn shops along the roadway and decided to stop and take a look around.

That’s when Herrington spotted it — an old military sword, resting in a butter churn next to the bat and gun barrel at the Mississippi shop.

“I saw what I knew to be an old Navy officer’s sword,” Herrington told The Post in a phone interview this week. “I love that kind of stuff, and it was a good price, I thought. So I bought it for $40.”

The sword was listed as a Civil War-era piece of equipment, even though it wasn’t. And the scabbard wasn’t in great shape — the leather peeling away — but Herrington said he understood what he had was once valuable to someone.

“I knew exactly what it was when I saw it,” Herrington said.

When Herrington got home and took a closer look at the sword, he noticed that it was inscribed with a name — ROY M. JOHNSEN, written in all caps, just like that.  [Washington Post]

You can read the rest at the link, but Herrington was able to track down Roy M. Johnsen and found out that he was a 88 year old Korean War veteran who had the sword stolen decades ago.

Fall Update from the 2nd Infantry Division Association

Here is an update I received from the 2nd Infantry Division Association on upcoming events for those interested:

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Dear Veterans, Active Duty Soldiers, Family Members, and Friends of the
2nd Infantry Division:

Here is an update on 2ID Association Activities.

1.  National Reunions.  The next three reunions will be held at:

– San Antonio, TX from September 22-26, 2015.

– Springfield, MO in September 2016.

– Washington, DC in the fall of 2017 to commemorate the 100th birthday
of the Warrior Division.

2.  New Association Officers.

– Aves Thompson (23rd Infantry, Korea-DMZ),  President

– John Batty-Sylvan (23rd Infantry, Korea-DMZ), 1st Vice

– Barry Napp, (17th Field Artillery, Korea-DMZ), 2nd Vice President

3.  Active Division.  The 2nd Infantry Division Artillery (DIVARTY) was
reactivated at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington on September 25,
2014.  DIVARTY assumed training and development responsibility for the
artillery battalions assigned to both 2nd Brigade-2ID and 3rd
Brigade-2ID.  It also has responsibilities on the Korean Peninsula. Its
headquarters would be with some of the first called for combat missions
if the current Armistice ended and war returned between North and South
Korea (Source: News article in the JBLM  Northwest Guardian newspaper).

4.  Merchandise.  Show your pride in your service as a member of the
famous 2nd Infantry Division.  The holidays
are coming up and you can now order something online for your favorite
Warrior at:

Second to None!

Membership/Public Relations Committee
The Second Indianhead Division Association, Inc.

Congress Looks To Act On The Unemployment Rate of Young Veterans

Here we go again with the unemployment rate of young veterans in the United States:

Democrats and Republicans rarely agree on anything in the nation’s capital, but there’s a growing bipartisan sense on Capitol Hill that the private sector will have to do much more to help Congress ease chronically high unemployment among veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
In August, President Barack Obama called on the nation’s businesses to hire or train 100,000 unemployed veterans by the end of 2013, a challenge that Microsoft answered with a pledge to train 10,000 of them.
Now, as part of his $447 billion jobs package, Obama wants Congress to approve a plan that would provide businesses a tax credit of $2,400 to $9,600 for each veteran they hire, depending on whether they’re disabled and how long they’ve been unemployed.
One million veterans already are unemployed and more than a million are expected to leave the military by 2016. Julius Clemente, a 33-year-old Iraq veteran from Kirkland, Wash., told a congressional panel Thursday that there will be “systematic chaos” if more of them can’t find jobs or get help going to college. [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link, but I find it amazing when a veteran says they need help going to college. The Army has so many programs in place most notably the very generous GI Bill that help veterans do just that.
I have said this before, employers have to hire people that meet the skill set that they need and veterans need to make themselves competitive with other applicants before getting out of the military. That is why I have always advocated for Soldiers to take college classes while serving. The Army has gone to great length to make college classes available to its Soldiers. Even in Iraq and Afghanistan you can see Soldiers attending classes. So if someone exits the service without at least an Associates Degree, that is their own fault. Additionally if they don’t use their GI Bill benefits after they get out to get a degree in something employable than that is there own fault as well. I have seen this to often as well that someone gets a degree in liberal arts or underwater basketweaving and they can’t understand why they can’t find a job.
The second issue I see with Soldiers exiting the service is that they often go back to their home towns even though that may not be the best place for them to find a job. Many of the skill sets learned by Soldiers are more in demand in areas around military bases. Military bases hire many contractors with the vast majority of the contractors being prior service military. Depending on one’s education level and time in service a government position working for the military may even be possible. Then you add in the fact that many private defense contractors like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon also have offices located around military bases that also hire many prior service military members. Soldiers going back to their hometown after completing military service cuts off these job opportunities for them. At the same time while in the military servicemembers need to network with people that can help them land one of these jobs. Who you know can be just as important as what you know.
In my opinion veterans should not feel entitled to a high paying job after they leave the service, they need to make themselves competitive applicants which military service should be something to enhance their resume over other applicants and not be the only thing on it.