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IAVA Daily News Brief – December 19, 2014

Today’s Top Stories

Odierno: Departing Colbert ‘part of our Army family’
Satirists can say things that would get others into the type of trouble they couldn’t begin to imagine. For example, when Gen. Ray Odierno, then the commander of Multi-National Force-Iraq, came on “The Colbert Report” during the show’s 2009 visit to Baghdad, the host began the interview by saying, “I gotta say I’m a little intimidated. Not because you’re a general, but because I feel like I’m interviewing Shrek.” | Army Times >>

Military veterans losing ground on jobs as disability enrollment increases, Stanford research shows
Research by Stanford economist Mark Duggan shows that the significant rise in disability coverage for veterans may be hurting them in making employment gains. He suggests possible reforms, such as time limits for applying, more frequent medical reviews and building job skills among veterans. | Stanford News >>

Former VA procurement chief talked the talk but ignored red flags, investigators say
Iris Cooper, a top government procurement officer, said she was a big fan of scouring would-be contractors’ past performance to see if they could do the job. But that’s not what happened at the Department of Veterans Affairs while she ran its office of acquisition operations, where investigators say she steered about $15 million to a company with no track record that employed two of her friends. | Washington Times >>

Afghanistan
An Afghan police officer was killed and three were wounded Thursday when a suspected suicide bomber they were pursuing detonated his explosives-laden vehicle, an official said. | Associated Press >>

Renee Montagne talks to John Sopko, special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction. He recently released a report highlighting significant waste, fraud and abuse in the U.S. funded program. | NPR >>

Raids, drone strikes and other military operations designed to capture or kill “high-value targets” in the Taliban have had little overall effect in part because of the militant group’s ability to replace leaders, according to a 2009 CIA analysis newly released by WikiLeaks. | Washington Post >>

Iraq

U.S. airstrikes have killed several top Islamic State leaders in Iraq in recent weeks, limiting the terrorist army’s ability to fight Iraqi and Kurdish forces, Pentagon officials said. | Fox News >>

Kurdish Peshmerga forces say they’ve recaptured territory near Sinjar Mountain in northern Iraq, where dramatic airdrops were made last summer to the Yazidis, one of Iraq’s smallest minorities. | CNN >>

American troops could spend another three years training Iraqi forces before they’re able to reconquer all the territory seized this year by the terrorists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a top U.S. general said Thursday. | Politico >>

Military Affairs

The Army changed its drawdown policy this week, notifying captains who were being forced to retire with sergeants’ benefits that they instead would retire at their current rank. | New York Times >>

An unmanned aerial vehicle has been operated from a U.S. National Security Cutter as part of a Coast Guard assessment for using drone aircraft. | UPI >>

The military calls it “Whiskey 470,” a roughly 200-rectangular-mile patch of airspace over the Gulf of Mexico about 30 miles northwest of Tampa. It’s a busy place where pilots learn how to fly one of the newest and most sophisticated fighters in the Air Force inventory. | Tampa Tribune >>

New Greatest Generation

Michael Theberge is working at becoming a HERO. If all goes well, at the end of a year’s internship, he’ll make a career of being a HERO. HERO — Human Exploitation Rescue Operative — Child Rescue Corps is a program of Homeland Security Investigations that trains wounded war veterans from the U.S. armed services to do complicated, sophisticated computer forensics work in child sexual exploitation investigations. | Associated Press >>

No one missed the absent reindeer as Santa Claus greeted visitors at a recent holiday barnyard open house. At Equest, horses perform the wonders. | Rowlett Lakeshore Times >>

Vincent Stoakley lived in countries including Japan, South Korea and Afghanistan during his 20 years of service in the U.S. Army. Little did he know at the time, as he traveled around the globe, he was inadvertently gaining the skills necessary to be a home inspector. After leaving the military, Stoakley became a Pillar To Post franchisee. Here’s how he has applied his military knowledge in the field of home inspection. | Entrepreneur >>

Inside Washington
There’s little question that the Department of Veterans Affairs had a bad year in 2014. Systemic leadership failures rippled through the entire enterprise, from administration of patient care to management and oversight of major technology programs. Those failures resulted in a campaign led by the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs to force a much-needed agencywide reorganization — the largest in VA’s 84-year history. | FedScoop >>

Renegar is referring to his treatment by the Department of Veteran Affairs. He’s one of thousands of veterans to receive a bombshell of a letter in 2009 – warning them that they may have been exposed to life-threatening infections as a result of misconfigured or unclean colonoscopy equipment. He’s also one of a smaller group to subsequently test positive for a serious infection – in his case, chronic hepatitis that will leave him at risk for life-threatening liver damage for the rest of his life. | MSNBC >>

A senior VA executive whose duties include overseeing the troubled national health enrollment office in Atlanta is leaving the agency in an abrupt announcement put out by his executive assistant on Thursday. | Atlanta Journal-Constitution >>

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