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IAVA Daily News Brief – March 18, 2016

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Conner Lamb carries Luna, a 1 1/2-year-old dog that fell off a fishing boat in February, after Luna arrived by a Navy commuter flight at Naval Base Coronado in California. Luna was found Tuesday on San Clemente Island, a Navy-owned training base 70 miles off San Diego. Hayne Palmour IV/The San Diego Union-Tribune via AP | Military Times >>

Today’s Top Stories

Combat vets can apply for VA health care by phone
Combat veterans waiting for the Veterans Affairs Department to approve their applications for VA health care can now call VA to complete the process. VA officials announced Wednesday the department is allowing veterans to apply for VA health benefits by phone instead of being required to fill out a paper application. | Military Times >>

Air Force pilot-turned-congresswoman in dogfight for WWII air women
Air Force fighter pilot-turned-congresswoman Martha McSally is in a dogfight for a generation of female aviators who paved the runway for her, but not even the president can help, according to a top Pentagon official. | Fox News >>

Veterans With PTSD Symptoms Respond Well To Treatment, Study Finds
There is hope for the many soldiers who deal with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), researchers examining how to effectively treat veterans reported. For this study, the researchers from the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) set out to uncover whether or not a psychotherapy regimen can help alleviate symptoms for veterans with sub-clinical PTSD. | Headline & Global News >>

Afghanistan

More than a dozen U.S. military personnel have been disciplined — but face no criminal charges — for mistakes that led to the bombing of a Doctors Without Borders hospital that killed 42 people in Afghanistan last year, U.S. defense officials say. | Fox News >>

The head of NATO on Wednesday predicted a difficult fight ahead for Afghanistan as the government continues to battle the Taliban and other militant factions trying to assert their presence in the war-ravaged country. | AP >>

The United Nations has set a low bar for success in Afghanistan this year: Survival. A fragile economy, intensifying insurgency, and fractious political elite are among the main challenges facing President Ashraf Ghani, Nicholas Haysom, the U.N.’s top envoy in Kabul, told the Security Council in New York. Pressure to win enough foreign aid and achieve sustainable peace are also on the list. | Chicago Times >>

Iraq

Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that ISIS has been committing genocide against religious minorities in the Middle East — just the second time the executive branch has used the term in relation to an ongoing conflict. | NBC News >>

An Iraqi Air Force plane crashed on Wednesday northwest of the oil city of Kirkuk and its two pilots and a third member of the crew are missing, an Iraqi military spokesman said. The single turbo-propeller plane was on a ‘reconnaissance and combat mission’ over territory held by Islamic State militants in northern Iraq, the spokesman, Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, told Reuters.An investigation is underway to determine whether the plane was shot down by militants or crashed because of a technical failure, he said. | Reuters >>

The US is boxing ISIS fighters in to their ‘thickest’ Iraq stronghold using aerial bombardment, an American military chief has claimed. Iraqi forces are also involved in a bid to isolate the terror group to a corridor between the cities of Mosul and Tal Afar. Colonel Steve Warren, chief spokesman for the coalition said US military intelligence has identified this zone as an area ‘where the enemy is thickest’. | Daily Mail >>


Military Affairs

It will take years — and billions of dollars — to restore readiness levels to what they were before half a decade of budget cuts, the leaders of the Army and Air Force told a congressional committee Wednesday. Short-term, temporary funding increases will not provide a quick fix , they said. | Air Force Times >>

These naval officers have been known as cryptologists, information dominators, spooks and cryppies. Their new official title: Cryptologic warfare officers. The name change distinguishes the cryptologists who surreptitiously collect and break adversaries’ communications with the intelligence officers and meteorologists and others who make up the wider information warfare branch. | Navy Times >>

The chief of the Army Reserve on Wednesday recommended that Regular Army soldiers be assigned to Reserve units to beef up the component’s full-time support and boost readiness. Lt. Gen. Jeffrey W. Talley, in his last appearance before the Senate Appropriations Committee before retiring, said the Army Reserve’s manning support is only about three-quarters of what it needs to be. | Military.com >>

#VetsRising

An Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran from South St. Louis County is warning fellow veterans to have their lungs checked by a doctor. His name is Tim Smith. He`s 37-years-old, and even though he says he has never been a smoker, doctors recently discovered he has lung cancer. Now he’s wondering if it might have been caused by a different kind of smoke. | Fox 2 Now >>

Columbia native Justen Garrity returned home in 2008 to a tough job market and few prospects. In 2010, he decided to take matters into his own hands, leasing a farm in Aberdeen and founding Veteran Compost, which collects organic material (mostly food scraps) from businesses and residential properties and then uses that material to produce compost, the rich soil additive prized by gardeners. | Baltimore Magazine >>

Baldwin, who is earning his Ph.D. in social work at Colorado State University, says his military service made him realize that his true calling is counseling. “In the Army, I was already counseling and didn’t know it,” he says. “I was helping soldiers through hard times. There is a lot that goes on psychologically in war.” | Colorado State University Source >>

Inside Washington

Problems within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) keep coming even amid efforts to reform the system, with allegations this week that Texas VA facilities engaged in record falsification similar to complaints that kicked off the scandal nearly two years ago. The ongoing issues within the system demonstrate the need for a deeper re-evaluation of the VA’s approach to care delivery, argues an opinion piece by VA Under Secretary of Health David Shulkin, M.D. | Fierce Healthcare >>

The Veterans Affairs Department is changing its tune on new accountability provisions that it wants Congress to include in a forthcoming comprehensive legislative package. New proposals from VA Secretary Bob McDonald would reclassify medical center and Veterans Integrated Service Network directors, as well as other health care executives, under Title 38. The secretary would have the authority to hire, set pay, appraise and discipline those senior executives. | Federal News Radio >>

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) inspector general (IG) just confirmed without a shadow of a doubt serious wait time manipulation at the VA medical center in Little Rock, Ark. | Daily Caller >>

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