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IAVA Daily News Brief – December 15, 2015

Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Josef Dawson discusses first-aid procedures to LCpl. Joseph Lampoi on Saturday before a Long Range Amphibious Raid onboard the amphibious assault ship Boxer. | Military Times >>

Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Josef Dawson discusses first-aid procedures to LCpl. Joseph Lampoi on Saturday before a Long Range Amphibious Raid onboard the amphibious assault ship Boxer. | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

900,000 wreaths placed on veterans’ graves
As families put up Christmas trees and hang festive wreaths outside their homes, one movement is remembering fallen soldiers by organizing communities to lay more than 900,000 wreaths on military graves across the country. | USA Today >>

Ending Veteran Homelessness
What do Virginia, New Orleans and Houston all have in common? They are among the growing list of localities that have ended Veteran homelessness and are proof that, community by community, it’s possible to make sure every Veteran has a place to call home. | Huffington Post >>

When PTSD Is Contagious
Exposed each day to the distress of others, our second-line responders to tragedy—humanitarian workers, therapists, social workers, lawyers, and journalists—can develop traumatic-stress disorders that mimic the PTSD of their clients, patients, and sources, down to the images of violence that can haunt a traumatized mind. | The Atlantic >>

Afghanistan

During a trip to Kabul, the top United Nations political official pledged continued support to the Government and people of Afghanistan as they face several challenges, especially in the economy and in security. | UN News Centre >>

Alarmed that large stretches of Helmand Province are falling to the Taliban, American Special Operations forces have secretly taken a more central role in the fighting to save crucial areas of the province, as more air power and ground troops have been committed to the battle, according to Western and Afghan officials. | New York Times >>

Doctors Without Borders is raising the death toll from the October bombing of its hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, by the U.S. military. The medical charity, also known by its French acronym, MSF, now says at least 42 died. | The Hill >>

Iraq

Turkey on Monday pulled a small military convoy out of a training base in northern Iraq that has become a new flash point as regional powers exert their influence, but refused to buckle to increasing pressure from Baghdad and Moscow to remove all its troops. | Wall Street Journal >>

President Barack Obama on Monday said the U.S.-led coalition is making progress against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria as he delivered an update on the campaign aimed at reassuring Americans worried about the spread of extremism-fueled terrorism. | Chicago Tribune >>

For Iraq’s armed forces, and the Americans who are training and backing them, this is a particularly important fight. Here, the country’s Shiite militias are not taking part, and that gives the regular Iraqi military a chance to repair its image. The fall of Ramadi seven months ago struck a blow to the already tattered reputation of the security forces, and it highlighted flaws in the U.S. approach to supporting them. | Washington Post >>

Military Affairs

Last week, the Army finally granted now Captain Singh, 27, a religious accommodation that allows him to grow his beard and wrap his hair in a turban. “It is wonderful. I had been living a double life, wearing a turban only at home,” he said. “My two worlds have finally come back together.” | New York Times >>

“Sergeant’s time” is making a comeback. For old-timers, this would be a welcome return to NCOs leading their units, while officers take a backseat. For new soldiers, this would be a time to say: “Sarge, what the hell is sergeant’s time?” | Army Times >>
During the bloody battle for Fallujah in 2004, Marines took heavy casualties clearing the Iraqi city house by house, room by room, never knowing where a deadly ambush might be waiting. Now there’s a small robot capable of reducing that risk. The key advance is durability: It can be tossed from behind cover, around corners, through windows and up onto balconies and still send real-time images. | Stars and Stripes >>

#VetsRising

We articulate those days differently. Some talk. Others never will. Some write novels and memoirs. Others Tweet and Tumblr. But Iraq veteran Maximillian Uriarte — creator of the Marine Corps famous “Terminal Lance” comic strips — turned his forgotten days and his war into a 250-page graphic novel and called it “The White Donkey.” | Washington Post >>

The power of photography is no mystery to 25-year-old Mike MacDonald, a veteran who served in the military from 2009-13, including a year in Iraq. He’s trained to use lethal weapons, but he’s also learning how to capture honest moments with a camera. These works are part of an ongoing project, called A Warrior’s Reintegration, detailing the struggles of those who serve return home to. | City Pages >>

A decade after surviving three brain-rattling explosions and a close encounter with a mortar round that failed to detonate, Iraq war veteran Gabrielle Holcomb is still serving her country – this time by protecting Sandia National Laboratories from counterfeit products ranging from cellphone chargers to weapons parts. | Albuquerque Journal >>

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