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IAVA Daily News Brief – April 7, 2016

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A member of the Navy Seals Leapfrog team carrying an American flag lands on the field during pregame festivities on Opening Day before a baseball game between the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Park in San Diego. Denis Poroy/Getty Images | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

The Mental Health Care Bill For Vets That No One Is Talking About
Since WWII, Congress has made it harder for vets with less-than-honorable discharges to receive basic services. A new bill is trying to change that. Today, most of us know that veterans with general discharges lose access to the Post-9/11 GI Bill — and full disclosure, I’m one of those guys. But, who determines who is a veteran and what benefits they receive has changed. | Task & Purpose >>

Pentagon: More US fire bases could open in Iraq
Additional U.S. bases might be opened in Iraq as U.S. troops help Iraqi Security Forces advance toward Mosul, the Pentagon said Wednesday. About 200 Marines are providing fire support out of a new base, formerly known as Fire Base Bell, that the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Task Force Spartan, opened last month just outside the training facility at Makhmour, Iraq. | Stars and Stripes >>

Veterans omnibus moves ahead, despite brewing fight
The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee chairman says he’s confident Congress can still pass a veterans omnibus bill by Memorial Day, despite a brewing fight over new accountability measures for VA employees. | Military Times >>

Afghanistan

U.S. and NATO efforts to bolster Afghanistan’s nascent military forces is well behind schedule due to increased violence in the country by a resurgent Taliban, according to a top American commander. | Washington Times >>

At least 29 Daesh insurgents were killed and 15 others injured in an ongoing military operation in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province. A spokesman for the Provincial Police Chief, Hazrat Hussain Mashriqiwal said the operation was launched in Kot district of the province yesterday and is ongoing to clear all Daesh insurgents, reports the Tolo news. | Business Standard >>

Fighting has broken out between Afghan government forces and Taliban militants in an area in the north where battles destroyed power lines early this year, officials said on Wednesday. The insurgents destroyed power lines in the area in Baghlan province in January, causing nearly a month of power cuts in the capital and adding to concern over Taliban gains in various places since most foreign troops withdrew in late 2014. | Reuters >>

Iraq

The United States and its allies conducted 23 strikes against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq on Tuesday, the coalition leading the operations said. In a statement released on Wednesday, the Combined Joint Task Force said four strikes near four cities in Syria hit tactical units and destroyed a mortar system, a fighting position and two vehicles. | Reuters >>

The fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) risks turning into another Vietnam War if the administration only gradually increases troops levels and other capabilities, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) warned Tuesday. | The Hill >>

The U.S. Defense Department’s relatively new Cyber Command has received its “first wartime assignment” in the fight against the Islamic State, the Pentagon’s top civilian said. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter made the statement during a question-and-answer session after a speech Tuesday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a defense think tank in Washington, D.C. | Military.com >>

Military Affairs

Like its sister services, the Air Force is getting in line to update its tattoo policy in the next few months. “The Air Force has recently formed a working group to review the tattoo policy,” Air Force spokeswoman Capt. Brooke Brzozowske told Air Force Times on Tuesday. “Depending on the working group’s findings, we anticipate any policy change proposals to be ready for Air Force leadership consideration in the fall of 2016.” | Air Force Times >>

The Navy’s Recruit Training Command at Great Lakes Illinois marked another milestone in efforts to make uniforms more gender-specific Monday when female recruits received their first enlisted white hats, informally known as Dixie cups. | Military.com >>

Top Marine leaders are recommending that 1,000 new fitness instructors be trained across the fleet in an effort to professionalize the Corps’ approach to fitness. The new force fitness instructor position could become a military occupation specialty, according to a 28-page proposal obtained by Marine Corps Times. | Marine Corps Times >>

#VetsRising

Before Sean Stoddard’s life as a Mesa cop, he was in the Army spending years of his life deployed in far away places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba and Germany. After returning home, he saw how many of his fellow veterans were having difficulty making the transition to civilian life. | ABC 15 >>

Ninety percent of the world’s opium originates in Afghanistan. In Chicago, three war veterans are hoping to give farmers there a viable alternative to growing poppy for opium. Learn how their business, Rumi Spice, is connecting the world’s most expensive spice to the rebuilding of a war-torn country. | WTTW >>

An Army veteran is looking to do something that he says has never been done before and Tuesday he made his way through Bay County, Florida. Former Army Delta Force Officer Josh Collins is in the middle of his journey to set the Guinness World Record for “longest journey by stand up paddleboard.” | WNDU 16 >>

Inside Washington

An Army veteran from Yelm has a warning for other veterans about security breaches on the eBenefits website maintained by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense. The website is a universal portal for managing retirement, healthcare and disability described as “a secure environment where you can safely access your personal information and perform self-service tasks.” | KING 5 >>

The Veterans Affairs Department’s advisory committee on education wants the agency to improve how it oversees the Principles of Excellence program rolled out by President Barack Obama in 2012. | Politico >>

Veterans interested in selling IT services to federal agencies should get ready to compete for a spot on the $5 billion VETS 2, the second generation of the General Services Administration’s governmentwide acquisition vehicle exclusively made up of service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses. | Federal Times >>

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