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IAVA Daily News Brief – April 6, 2016

Gunnery sergeant Christopher Willingham with retired US Marine Corps working dog Lucca, after she received the PDSA Dickin Medal, awarded for animal bravery, equivalent of the Victoria Cross, at Wellington Barracks in London. Frank Augstein/AP

Gunnery sergeant Christopher Willingham with retired US Marine Corps working dog Lucca, after she received the PDSA Dickin Medal, awarded for animal bravery, equivalent of the Victoria Cross, at Wellington Barracks in London. Frank Augstein/AP | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

Reserve suicides up 23 percent — active-duty count remains steady
The number of active-duty personnel who died by suicide in 2015 declined slightly from 2014, but the reserve component, including the National Guard, saw a 23 percent increase, according to Pentagon data released Friday. The Defense Department’s fourth-quarter suicide report for 2015 said 266 active-duty service members committed suicide in 2015, down from 273 in 2014. | Military Times >>

Veteran Suicide Documentary on PBS
Called “the catalyst for a movement that will define a generation”, by Danny Farrar (SoldierFit/Platoon 22), PROJECT 22 is a crowd-funded, community-driven feature documentary, co-directed by two combat-wounded Veterans. Daniel J. Egbert and Doc King’s documentary follows the very personal story of a Marine Infantryman and a Combat Medic on a search for hope that expands into an awareness campaign spanning 6,500 miles on motorcycles. | Huffington Post >>

VA formally proposes new limits on appeals rights for its executives
Senior executives at the Department of Veterans Affairs overseeing health care programs could appeal disciplinary actions against them only through internal department channels, under a formal proposal the department has sent to Congress. | Washington Post >>

Afghanistan

A suicide bomber on a motorbike detonated his explosives near a busy bazaar in Afghanistan’s northern Parwan province on Tuesday morning, killing at least six people, officials said. | Associated Press >>

A notorious Afghan warlord who lives in hiding has dropped a key condition for ending his war of more than 40 years with Kabul, an associate said Tuesday. According to Amin Karim, an official of the Hezb-i-Islami Party, the party’s leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, is no longer demanding that all foreign troops leave Afghanistan. | Associated Press >>

Intense fighting and unprecedented casualties suffered by Afghan forces in 2015 have put U.S. and NATO efforts to train a self-sufficient force behind schedule, the new commanding general in Afghanistan told Reuters on Monday. | Reuters >>

Iraq

Just as the Iraqi government announced the beginning of the operations to liberate Mosul, the country’s second largest city, Iraq’s internal political turmoil threatens to reverse what has been achieved against ISIS. | The Fiscal Times >>

When US Massachusetts Representative Seth Moulton visited Iraq last week, he encountered a familiar sight. A veteran who served four tours in Iraq, Moulton joined in the US military effort to stomp out radical insurgents. Last week, the Salem Democrat stopped by Iraq to talk to current US armed forces. Their mission was the same — to free Iraqis from terrorism, this time against the Islamic State group. | Boston Globe >>

Heavy resistance has slowed Iraqi forces Tuesday as they pushed toward the center of a town held by Islamic State militants in western Anbar province, commanders at the scene said. Hundreds of roadside bombs, car bombs and heavy mortar fire slowed advancing Iraqi troops to a near halt Tuesday after entering the small town of Hit the previous day. | Associated Press >>

Military Affairs

Calling all female soldiers interested in going infantry or armor. For the first time, the Army has issued a new menu of reclassification options for active Army enlisted women whose careers are stalled in overstrength military occupational specialties to make the switch to infantry, armor and several other combat arms MOSs that until just recently were closed to women. | Army Times >>

Five Navy warships, two Coast Guard cutters and a Marine expeditionary unit are converging on the Big Apple in May for Fleet Week. The festivities from May 25-31 will feature as many 4,500 sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, as well as Royal Canadian sailors and Naval Academy midshipmen. Ship tours are available most days at the ships. Check for info on Fleet Week’s official website. The parade of ships that kicks off the festivities is set for May 25. | Navy Times >>

About two dozen F-15 fighter jets will be busy during scheduled rotations across Europe, some participating in exercises all the way through September. Twelve F-15E Strike Eagles and approximately 260 airmen from the 48th Fighter Wing, RAF Lakenheath, England, are participating in Exercise INIOHOS at Andravida Air Base, Greece, alongside Hellenic and Israeli air forces. | Air Force Times >>

#VetsRising

Many of our military men and women come home from serving our country injured. But now wounded veterans are being given another chance to serve their country in a competition created just for them. 7’s Craig Stevens has one vet’s story in our special report, “Hero Games.” | WSVN >>

Stretching 7 feet tall and 12 feet wide, Mike Wattle’s painting titled “Student – Veteran – Identity,” hangs just outside the center on the UMSL campus. It depicts a campus scene featuring characters in a variety of military uniforms, plus a couple of students jogging in athletic gear, with the Millennium Student Center in the background. Wattle, a Navy veteran, is set to graduate this spring with a degree in art education. | St. Louis Public Radio >>

The Idaho Veterans Garden in Caldwell is an open, wind-swept place. It sits in a modest part of town, tucked next to a grassy slope leading to the freeway. A chain-link fence surrounds the garden’s collection of raised beds and profusion of American flags, snapping in a brisk breeze. | The Idaho Statesman >>

Inside Washington

Eric Greitens’s bid for governor of Missouri hinges on his experience as a Navy SEALs member, which he has chronicled in three books and promotes on his campaign web site, where he is pictured wearing his combat uniform, holding a rifle. Now Mr. Greitens, seeking the Republican nomination, finds himself in a battle with some former comrades, who charged in a slickly produced YouTube video that he exaggerated his record and was unduly benefiting from his time in the SEALs. | New York Times >>

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter wants to clarify the role of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, see service chiefs have a greater hand in acquisition, and winnow the number of four-star billets, all part of a major reform effort to the rules that govern the Pentagon. | Defense News >>

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs agreed to develop and implement a pilot project over the next 30 days at the Fargo VA Medical Center to address bureaucratic delays and confusion that veterans have experienced in North Dakota when trying to schedule appointments, Sen. John Hoeven announced Tuesday. | Bismarck Tribune >>

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