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IAVA Daily News Brief – April 30, 2015

Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Marcus Jones, from Anderson, S.C., directs a helicopter during flight operations aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Laboon (DDG 58). | Military Times >>

Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Marcus Jones, from Anderson, S.C., directs a helicopter during flight operations aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Laboon (DDG 58). | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

House Dems bolster Obama veto threat
Addressing the Democrats at a closed-door caucus meeting in the Capitol Wednesday, VA Secretary Robert McDonald warned the lawmakers that the GOP’s $77 billion bill funding the department and military construction projects in fiscal 2016 falls short of the resources needed to provide health and other services to the nation’s veterans. | The Hill >>

Bill called ‘breakthrough’ in punishing retaliators against VA whistleblowers
The Veterans Affairs Retaliation Prevention Act provides penalties for supervisors who take revenge against whistleblowers. Retaliators would be suspended for at least 14 days for the first offense and fired for the second. | Washington Post >>

VA mess in Aurora likely to affect other projects nationwide
Top Veterans Affairs leaders are asking Congress to approve a plan that would delay spending on dozens of construction projects nationwide — from the Bronx, N.Y., to Honolulu — to help pay for massive cost overruns at an unfinished hospital in Aurora, which is expected to cost $1.73 billion to build. | The Denver Post >>

Afghanistan

Months after President Obama formally declared that the United States’ long war against the Taliban was over in Afghanistan, the American military is regularly conducting airstrikes against low-level insurgent forces and sending Special Operations troops directly into harm’s way under the guise of “training and advising.” | New York Times >>

This latest report features the usual litany of failed attempts at reconstruction. Most notable are the revelations that the US has no idea how many soldiers are in the Afghan National Army (ANA), and that American efforts to jumpstart Afghan mining are liking going to fail spectacularly. | VICE News >>

Starved and beaten by his stepmother, the little boy with big brown eyes was already withdrawn and unhappy by the time his father banished him from the family home and sent him to an orphanage in the Afghan capital, Kabul. | Associated Press >>

Iraq

A British man has admitted his fingerprints were on two bombs allegedly made along with a device that killed a US soldier in Iraq. Anis Abid Sardar’s lawyer told a court he “accepts the finger marks are his”. | BBC News >>

Iraq’s interior minister summoned dozens of journalists Wednesday to partially blame them for security force setbacks amid the war against the Islamic State group, laying bare the Baghdad’s Shiite-led government sensitivity to criticism. | Associated Press >> 

Iraqi forces are on a westward push to retake Anbar, a sprawling Sunni-dominated desert province captured by the Islamic State group in their offensive last year. But as the battles for Tikrit and Ramadi have shown, it will be a hard slog for a much-diminished Iraqi army — especially given Baghdad’s reticence to arm Sunni tribesmen and local fears of the Shiite militias backing government forces. | Associated Press >>

Military Affairs

The Pentagon announced Wednesday the U.S. Army will reduce its aviation forces in Germany by about 1,900. To make up for the reduction, the Army will rotate soldiers and equipment through on a continuous basis. | The Hill >>

To the almost 2,700 sailors and Marines from three countries, it’s time to say fair winds and following seas after week in New Orleans. Seven days after a flotilla of warships pulled into the Port of New Orleans, NOLA Navy Week 2015 ends on Wednesday (April 28) when those ships depart. | The Times-Picayune >>

People come from around the world to join the ranks of the U.S. Marine Corps. For one Marine in particular, earning the title meant the biggest opportunity of his life. Being born in Colon, Panama, Marine Cpl. Osmar S. Gorish couldn’t imagine that one day he would be in charge of a $2 million piece of equipment for the Corps. | Military.com >>

#VetsRising

A Navy veteran who lost his leg in Iraq – and went on to try out for several Major League teams — threw out the first pitch in Tuesday’s San Diego Padres game. | NBC San Diego >>

A year ago, Patrick Welsh, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, tried to kill himself. Now, he’s trying to use an old Volkswagen Beetle to raise awareness for the disease that affects so many veterans like him. | York Dispatch >>

When Joe Bragg caught a live well full of big crappies recently, it represented one more step on his road to recovery. Just two months ago, the Army veteran couldn’t imagine such moments would ever be enjoyed again. | The Ledger-Enquirer >>

Inside Washington

Congress is considering changing, for the first time in decades, the way service members get retirement pay. Military retirement now carries an all-or-nothing pension plan that requires a minimum of 20 years of service. The new plan would cut those pensions to 40 percent of pay from 50 percent, and create a matched 401(k)-style plan open to all service members. | The State >>

A new program aimed at helping veterans who live far from a Veterans Affairs medical center isn’t getting much use in Vermont. The Choice Program allows veterans to switch to private-sector doctors if they live more than 40 miles from a full-service VA hospital or can’t get an appointment at the VA within 30 days. | Associated Press >>

President Barack Obama would veto a U.S. House of Representatives bill that appropriates funds for military construction and the Department of Veterans Affairs, the White House said on Tuesday. The bill does not adequately fund veterans’ medical care or construction for the military and the VA, the White House said in a statement. | Reuters >>

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