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IAVA Daily News Brief – April 10, 2015

Today’s Top Stories

Worst VA Health Care Wait Times Are in the South
The chronic delays plaguing the Veterans Affairs health system are concentrated in a fraction of its hospitals and clinics — many of them in the South — that have done far worse than others in delivering prompt care, according to government data reviewed by The Associated Press. | Associated Press >>

GOP chairman: VA faces ‘enormous challenges’ one year after scandal
House Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) says the VA is still not doing enough to hold employees accountable one year after the biggest scandal in the agency’s history. “I think Sec. [Robert] McDonald is doing his best to correct VA’s course, but enormous challenges remain,” said Miller in a statement Thursday. | The Hill >>

Agency Says VA Whistleblower Cases on Track to Double This Fiscal Year
A federal agency tasked with protecting the rights of government workers said Thursday it is on track this fiscal year to double its caseload of claims from Department of Veterans Affairs whistleblowers. | Wall Street Journal >>

Afghanistan

Assailants armed with heavy weapons and suicide vests stormed the provincial prosecutor’s office Thursday in one of the most peaceful cities in northern Afghanistan, battling security forces for more than six hours and leaving at least 10 people dead and dozens wounded. | New York Times >>

On Kabul’s streets, you can easily find the uneasy legacy of America’s longest war. Outside one mosque — mixing with other men desperate for a day’s worth of casual manual labor — are five men who months ago had one valuable skill NATO depended upon: they speak English. | CNN >>

At least 10 people, including two Afghan police officers, were killed and more than 20 civilians were injured in Mazar-e-Sharif on Thursday, when at least three gunmen stormed a judicial office in the city (Pajhwok). | Foreign Policy >>

Iraq

Looted and shuttered after American troops seized Baghdad a dozen years ago, the National Museum of Iraq has officially reopened its doors — a response to Islamic State thugs’ taking jackhammers to ancient treasures in Mosul. | New York Times >>

Ask anyone in Baghdad’s Sunni Muslim neighborhood of Aadhamiye about life under Iraq’s Shiite majority, and you’re likely to get a puzzled reply: “What Shiite majority?” | Wall Street Journal >>

More than 200 elderly and ailing Yazidis were freed Wednesday by ISIS militants who had been holding them captive since overrunning their villages in northwestern Iraq last summer. | NBC News >>

Military Affairs

The U.S. Army has expanded a program that encourages immigrants with certain language and medical skills to enlist by offering them a fast track to U.S. citizenship. The Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest, known as Mavni, will double to 3,000 enlistments in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, and to 5,000 in fiscal 2016. The program is currently capped at 1,500 recruits. | Wall Street Journal >>

Russia is so close that the F-16 fighter pilots can see it on the horizon as they swoop down over a training range in Estonia in the biggest ever show of U.S. air power in the Baltic countries. | Associated Press >>

The U.S. Marine Corps has launched a major drive to pump up the readiness of its aircraft after calculating that 158 of its helicopters, fighter jets and other planes – assets valued at $8.4 billion – are not ready for military use. | Reuters >>

#VetsRising

Like the “Ice Bucket Challenge” for ALS that flooded social media last year, Nate Koehn is hoping to make a splash for another serious cause. Koehn, who served in the U.S. Army for 12 years, has launched the 22 Veterans Daily Challenge. | WXMI St. Louis >>

Area veterans attended the first StandDown event in the Brainerd area Wednesday, where services ranging from legal help to haircuts were provided. Bob Nelson, Crow Wing County veterans service officer, said the event helps bring awareness to all of the services available to veterans, as well as opportunities to volunteer. | Brainerd Dispatch >>

Being a veteran means many different things. It means putting on a uniform and fighting for the country. It means that while we are at home celebrating the Fourth of July, there are men and women in the field training or deployed in a combat zone. | Vidette Online >>

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