IAVA Daily News Brief – January 22, 2018

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Today’s Top Stories 

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin had arguably the most successful year of anyone in President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, with frequent praise from lawmakers, veterans groups and the West Wing. So it was a jarring moment this week at a routine Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing when a Republican senator called him a habitual liar. | Military Times >>

Thousands of federal employees began their weekends gripped with doubt, uncertain of when they’ll be able to return to work and how long they’ll have to go without being paid after a bitter political dispute in Washington triggered a government shutdown. But, of course, the government hasn’t completely shut down. | Stars and Stripes >>

Proponents for research into using medical marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain were dealt another blow this week, after comments from Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin made it clear the agency will not explore how the drug could help veterans. | Task and Purpose >>

Iraq and Afghanistan 

More than 150 people were rescued or managed to escape the attack at Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel. Eleven of the 14 foreigners killed were employees of KamAir, a private Afghan airline. Two were identified as Venezuelan pilots. Six Ukrainians and a citizen from Kazakhstan were among the dead. | ABC News >>

It’s more than a month since Iraq’s prime minister declared victory in his country’s fight against the militants of Islamic State. But in reality the battle is far from over, with attacks on Iraqi soldiers taking place on a daily basis. Much of the fighting occurs on the porous border with Syria, where IS fighters are able to take refuge. | BBC News >>

“This is a concept that got accelerated for Afghanistan, and it has been quite a process,” a senior military official said of the plan to send the U.S. Army’s first-ever Security Force Assistance Brigade to Afghanistan early this spring. “It has been a roller coaster.” The official, who is involved in the troop planning, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss military planning. | The Washington Post >>

Military Affairs

An Army AH64 Apache helicopter crashed about 1 a.m. Saturday during pre-deployment training operations at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, killing two soldiers aboard, an Army spokeswoman said Saturday night. Both soldiers were assigned to the 4th Infantry Division in Colorado. Fort Irwin is in San Bernardino County outside Barstow. | Task and Purpose >>

During the past year, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. and their staffs have done fewer official press briefings, reduced the number of traveling media embeds and curtailed press access to information. This reduction of public access is diminishing the American people’s ability to fully participate in the democratic process. If this trend continues, it could be problematic for America, especially during an election year. | The Washington Post >>

“Government rules and regulations can often prevent it from doing what is best for our military,” Fisher said. “A perfect example of this occurred during the 2013 government shutdown when the (Department of Defense) could not pay the benefits earned by servicemembers through their ultimate sacrifice.” In 2013, the Fisher House provided $750,000 in grants to 30 families during the 16-day shutdown. | Stars and Stripes >>


Gillums Jr. with American Veterans said his injuries from the service have him first in line for what’s now known as a Mongo Chair, something that would simply change his life. “Anything that will stand you up, that will give you the dignity of looking somebody in the eyes like you were before you were injured means a lot, means the world,” he added. | KPNX >>

Just before 9 a.m., Jason Maddy drives up to a nondescript park for his latest mission. He’s meeting his team for yet another trek to the mountains. The Iraq War veteran seems thinner than he was just several months ago. The long days have weighed on him. He’s foregone sleep. He looks tired. But he has a purpose. | NBC News >>

At a program called The Veterans Project, the belief is that movement offers peace and purpose, especially for service members. “After the military, I felt really dejected,” said Air Force Veteran Shannon Corbeil. “I lost a lot of my confidence and my self-esteem. This program physically forced me to push myself past physical boundaries that I had set for myself, and I realized that I could do the things that I didn’t think that I could.” | ABC 7 >>

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