Thursday Three Is Here!

September 18, 2020

Happy Thursday! It’s been an action-packed week here at MFAN.
On Tuesday, the Military Family Financial Readiness Coalition (MFFRC) held its quarterly meeting. The goal of this coalition and these roundtable meetings is to build collaboration and open lines of communication among those who work to support military family financial readiness.
Yesterday, MFAN Executive Director Shannon Razsadin discussed suicide prevention initiatives as part of Cerner Corporation’s Government Services webinar.
And tomorrow, our Advisory Board holds its monthly meeting. Through a diverse advisory board, representing modern military families at home and overseas, our advisors share their stories so that MFAN can lead data-driven solutions to the challenges you encounter as military families.
In case you missed it, MFAN Advisory Board member Emily Starbuck Gerson spoke with The Spouse Angle about obstacles to mental health care in Episode 44 of the podcast.
And we talked with Express Scripts about what steps they’re taking to ensure military families receive their prescriptions in as timely a manner as possible.

Here’s what we’re hearing about this week:

Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Suzanna Lapi 

Diversity is necessary to complete the mission.

There has been some progress made in building a more gender-inclusive Marine Corps. In 2019, there was a 60% increase in women in previously all-male Marine Corps combat units. And the process has begun to bring the Corps up-to-speed with the rest of the services in terms of having a fully gender-integrated basic training (mandated by Congress in the 2020 NDAA).
But there’s been only a 4% increase in females overall in the Corps in the past decade. In the top ranks, women represent only 10% of Marines. And women and minorities are also more likely to leave the service earlier than their white male peers.
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger, the Marine Corps’ top general, says we need to change that. He emphasizes the need to get beyond going through the motions to inherently understanding why diversity is important.
Gen. Berger said, “We’re much more powerful when we have different people looking at the same issue from different perspectives.”
It’s not enough to have more women serving at all ranks and in all MOS’s in the Corps. Retention needs to be a priority as well. Berger said he sees too many women leave when they feel forced to choose between service and family. He believes the 12 weeks of allotted maternity leave after the birth of a child is inadequate and is hoping to see that extended to a full year. (He’ll be up against both DoD and federal policies when the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act goes into effect on October 1st and caps leave at 12 weeks.)
Gen. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost knows a lot about the challenges that women and minorities have faced in being accepted and fully integrated into the forces. When she graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1988, women weren’t allowed to fly in combat and that didn’t change until 1993.
In the time since, her service has ranged from test pilot to vice director to the Joint Staff. Now the only female four-star at the Pentagon, she’s the fifth in Air Force history. Ovost says, “When people think about [a problem] in different ways, you want a bunch of diverse people around the table contributing to that solution.”
As for being highly relatable? She talks about imposter syndrome and more here.
Photo by Jefferson Santos,

Another data hack

The Department of Veterans Affairs said that approximately 46,000 veterans have had their personal information (including social security numbers) compromised by a data breach.
Unauthorized users accessed the system to redirect VA payments intended for outside medical providers. System access has been disabled pending resolution of the problem. Impacted individuals will have free access to credit monitoring services provided.
If you have not received notification that you have been affected – your data was not compromised.
But this is not an isolated incident. Both 2006 and 2015 saw millions of veteran and military personnel records compromised in events that likely affected many readers of this newsletter.
Reach out to VA’s Financial Services Center if you have further questions regarding this data breach.

Man’s (and Woman’s) New Best Friend

The Ghost Robotics Vision 60 robot doesn’t demand treats with puppy-dog eyes – but the four-legged robot dog is being tested for use gathering information and patrolling small battle spaces as part of the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS).
While it’s the Air Force that’s testing these puppies out (see what we did there?), the technology has application for the other services and American allies as well. The Australian Army is already testing it out. And the DARPA Subterranean Challenge that highlights the use of robotics for underground military operations, saw the robot in action too! (Check out the cool video by the Australian Army here.)
Better than the fact that these canine robots won’t pull their leashes or beg for dinner scraps, they also can’t be injured or killed. And rumor has it the Airmen testing them out call them dogs!