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IAVA Daily News Brief – April 20, 2015

Today’s Top Stories

Michelle Obama, Jill Biden, NBC’s ‘Night Shift’ Talk Veterans Health
First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden teamed with NBC and Sony Pictures TV’s “The Night Shift” on Friday to discuss the media’s portrayal of veterans’ health and wellness for an upcoming episode of the show, set to air on May 4. | Variety >>

New VA scandals call into question agency’s ability to clean house
Nearly a year after a scandal rocked the Department of Veterans Affairs, revealing that the agency’s centers nationwide were manipulating records to hide dangerously long patient wait times, the bad news just keeps on coming — calling into question the agency’s promise to clean house. | Fox News >>

Senate VA leaders want answers on construction cost overruns
The leaders of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee are urging the VA’s internal watchdog to launch an investigation into the delays and cost overruns plaguing the agency’s major medical construction efforts. | The Hill >>

Afghanistan

Isis claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in the eastern city of Jalalabad on Saturday, which appears to be the first major attack in Afghanistan by insurgents aligning themselves with the group which has been wreaking havoc across Syria and Iraq. | The Guardian >>

In a report released Sunday, “Justice through the eyes of Afghan Women,” the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said more women are turning to non-judicial methods, such as local mediation councils, rather than the traditional court system. | Los Angeles Times >>

NATO says one of its soldiers was wounded while training Afghan soldiers in southern Afghanistan. The soldier “was struck in the ballistic plate resulting in a bruise during an advising and assisting operation in Logar” on Wednesday, says Chris Belcher, of NATO’s Resolute Support mission. | Associated Press >>

Iraq

Iraqi and U.S.-led coalition forces have successfully ousted ISIS from the nation’s largest oil refinery, the coalition said Sunday. Iraqi security forces regained full control of the Baiji refinery, the Combined Joint Task Force said. | CNN >>

Iraqi special forces maintained control of the provincial capital, Ramadi, in Iraq’s western Anbar province Friday, after Islamic State militants continued to pound the western city with bombings, causing fearful residents to flee their homes.  | Fox News >>

ISIS claimed responsibility for a suicide car bomb attack Friday near the U.S. Consulate in the Kurdish Iraqi city of Irbil, according to several Twitter accounts linked to the terror group. | CNN >>

Military Affairs

U.S. Navy leaders say the service is making progress developing new technologies to ensure the U.S. retains its technological edge in the undersea domain – as countries like China continue rapid military modernization and construction of new submarines. | Military.com >>

As Spc. Matthew Tattersall prepares to leave the Army, he wanted to make his last jump as a paratrooper a memorable one. So last weekend, he jumped with Willy MakeIt, his pet Siamese fighting fish. | Army Times >>

Airmen in the space community will see a big change in their work schedules due to one major issue: inexperience. | Air Force Times >>

#VetsRising

After four years of service in the U.S. Army that included two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Purple Heart and Commendation of Valor recipient Sgt. Marc Coviello returned to his hometown of Beekman looking for a way to continue his service and keep the spirit of the military’s brotherhood alive. | Poughkeepsie Journal >>

He retired from service and has been climbing since with The Heroes Project, a nonprofit organization that helps wounded veterans. Everest would be his highest and toughest mountain that he has attempted to climb. | Associated Press >>

Television and radio host Montel Williams is throwing his weight into the campaign to free a fellow Marine veteran from a prison in Iran. Iranian authorities have held Amir Hekmati, who served as an infantry rifleman and deployed to Iraq, in captivity since arresting him during a trip to visit relatives more than three years ago. | Marine Corps Times >>

Inside Washington

A revolutionary war officer may have been the first lobbyist. William Hull first gained prominence during the Revolutionary War, when he served as an officer. But it was the work he did after the war that made him part of the history books. | Associations Now >>

Mayor Bill de Blasio this week is still absorbing sharp criticism over some of his appointments to the Veterans Advisory Board. Established in 1987, the VAB and advises the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs on issues and acts as a liaison between the city and the local veterans’ community. | The Forum News Group >>

A bipartisan bill introduced this week would facilitate the transition process for military combat medics to become emergency medical technicians upon returning to the civilian workforce. | The Hill >>

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