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IAVA Daily News Brief – April 17, 2017

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Today’s Top Stories 

One San Antonio veteran, Anthony Pottebaum, said he went through a similar program in 2016. The former transportation soldier said he had both chronic pain and a mental health diagnosis, which together can lead to a downward spiral. “I had a lot of depression,” said Pottenbaum, 45. “I can’t support my wife. I’m not going to be in the military due to my injuries. I knew I couldn’t drive a truck any more for a civilian job because of the narcotics I was on.” Many veterans, wracked by pain and depression, stop exercising, which leads to weight gain and additional pain. Some veterans, like Pottenbaum, see their relationships deteriorate. | San Antonio Star Telegram >>

According to Dr. David Shulkin, recently confirmed as Secretary of Veteran Affairs, the best way to improve service at VA hospitals is to expose them to public pressure for change. To that end, he announced the creation of a new website that will eventually compare every VA hospital’s performance with that of nearby public hospitals, and also provide reports on how long it takes to get service. | The Post and Courier >>

Veterans Affairs secretary David Shulkin said Thursday that he would initiate a top-down review of the VA medical center in the nation’s capital after an urgent watchdog report warned that patients were being put at risk due to bad inventory practices from potentially dirty syringes to medical supply shortages. | Fox News >>

Iraq and Afghanistan 

But the greater problem in Afghanistan is the strengthening of the Taliban. In an interview with the Afghan television channel ToloNews, General McMaster said, “What is necessary at this point is to consolidate gains and to deal with what is a big security problem now.” He did not comment on whether the United States would add more troops, saying it was for “President Trump to decide, really, what is the best course of action to begin to accelerate progress in the war.” | The New York Times >>

The spokesman for the Joint Operation Command in Iraq says the Islamic State group has attacked government troops with some type of gas in western Mosul – the second such attack in as many days. Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool tells The Associated Press that six soldiers suffered breathing problems from the attack on Sunday and were treated in a nearby field clinic. | The Star Tribune >>

The U.S. military’s decision to drop its largest conventional weapon Thursday on positions held by the Islamic State group (ISIS) in Afghanistan came as a surprise to many who noted that the jihadists had only managed to instigate a low-level insurgency in the Central Asian nation. While the huge, costly blast may have sent a message about President Donald Trump’s willingness to use extreme measures against his opponents, one of America’s biggest bombs may have missed the true target. | Task and Purpose >>

Military Affairs

Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker said in a statement that its nearly 200 T-45C aircraft will resume flights as early as Monday after being grounded for more than a week. Its pilots had become increasingly concerned late last month after seeing a spike in incidents in which some personnel weren’t getting enough oxygen. The concerned pilots had declined to fly on more than 90 flights.  | Navy Times >>

Gov. Jerry Brown granted 72 pardons on Saturday, including three for veterans who have since been deported. Former Marines Erasmo Apodaca Mendizabal and Marco Antonio Chavez, as well as former soldier Hector Barajas Varela, were honorably discharged from the military, but after their time in uniform were convicted of crimes and deported. | The San Diego Union-Tribune >>

“Gen. Neller has asked the program office to … take the Marine combat boot that is in the seabag now and make that a better boot,” said Todd Towles, the program officer for the clothing team at Marine Corps Systems Command. Marines have complained that the ­current combat boot, first fielded in 2002, is too heavy.  | Marine Corps Times >>

#VetsRising

Kern County resident and U.S. Army veteran, Jim Schneiter, has dealt with debilitating back pain after the Humvee he was in hit an improvised explosive device in Iraq. Schneiter said the VA put him on pain medications and one day he decided he wanted another option. | Bakersfield Now >>

Behind him was the source of those t-shirts, Noah Cass, of Somers, Connecticut, a Marine who served two tours of duty with Ryan, and is planning a 140-mile run from Somers to Lake George to raise money for Ryan’s care. Cass, who took to running ultra-marathon races to deal with his own PTSD issues, said the drive from Somers was two-and-a-half hours. The run will take two-and-a-half days, and he hopes to raise more than $5,000 for Ryan and his family.  | The Post Star >>

After enlisting in the military when he was about 19, Marsh made the decision to study at the university, eventually becoming an educator. His desire to be in the military was fueled because of his interest in academic study and because his father was a Korean and Vietnam War veteran. “I kind of washed up on shore here a long time ago, never really left,” said Marsh. “I think I started school here in ’78 or something. My first degree was in psychology. I decided to pursue what I loved, which is the English language and writing. I teach 101, 102 and World Lit. I have taught library science and children’s lit.” | Lion’s Roar News >>

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