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IAVA Daily News Brief – December 21, 2015

Army Pfc. Richard Schmidt, a veterinary technician at Public Health Command District-Japan’s Okinawa branch, prepares to administer a shot to Ayila, an 18th Security Forces Squadron military working dog, while 18th SFS MWD handlers comfort her during an annual dental examination. | Military Times >>

Army Pfc. Richard Schmidt, a veterinary technician at Public Health Command District-Japan’s Okinawa branch, prepares to administer a shot to Ayila, an 18th Security Forces Squadron military working dog, while 18th SFS MWD handlers comfort her during an annual dental examination. | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

Zadroga Act reauthorization finally passes through Congress; health care program extended 75 years for 9/11 first responders
The chronically ill heroes of 9/11 and their families received a long-overdue lifetime of health benefits Friday after a contentious congressional fight. The House and Senate both voted to extend the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act — giving coverage to those afflicted with Ground Zero-related health woes for the next 75 years. | NY Daily News >>

Veterans Say ‘Burn Pits’ Created Toxic Clouds That Made Them Sick
A few years later, Torres was diagnosed with a rare disease called constrictive bronchiolitis. Scars in his lungs block the flow of air. He’s among a growing number of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan who believe their respiratory ailments are linked to burn pits. These were acres-wide mounds of waste near bases that contained everything from batteries to vehicle scraps to amputated body parts. The refuse was usually ignited with jet fuel. | NPR >>

Veterans’ PTSD may recur down the line
Soldiers deployed to Afghanistan had a spike in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in the months immediately after their return, but also five years later, according to a Dutch study. The results suggest that screening for PTSD symptoms should continue for more than just a year or two after soldiers return home because new or recurrent PTSD cases could emerge, the authors say. | Reuters >>

Afghanistan

A deputy governor in Afghanistan has made a public plea to the president on Facebook for help in fighting the Taliban. Mohammad Jan Rasoulyar wrote the message to Ashraf Ghani on the social network to say 90 soldiers had been killed in the past two days in Helmand. | BBC >>

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter warned Friday of the threat of deteriorating security in Afghanistan from a resurgent Taliban and a growing number of Islamic State fighters. | LA Times >>

ISIS is transmitting hours of extremist propaganda into homes deep in one of Afghanistan’s biggest cities for the first time, according to officials and local residents. | NBC News >>

Iraq

Turkey announced Saturday it would move its troops from Iraq after weeks of tensions over its military presence near the city of Mosul, according to a statement from the country’s Foreign Ministry. | CNN >>

The Defense Department is trying to downplay a massive Islamic State group offensive that lasted from Thursday afternoon through Friday morning, involving hundreds of extremist fighters in a coordinated and sophisticated effort that broke through lines of U.S.-backed local forces in both the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq and around the key city of Ramadi. | U.S. News & World Report >>

An airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition this past week killed 10 Iraqi troops, the Iraqi government said Saturday, in an apparent friendly fire incident in which the U.S. defense secretary says both sides shared responsibility. | Washington Post >>

Military Affairs

The service is expected to welcome a new Army secretary in 2016. Eric Fanning, formerly one of Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s closest advisers, has been nominated for the job. His nomination must be confirmed by the Senate. | Army Times >>

The Army’s top civilian and its top general both said in January that a report from Training and Doctrine Command regarding new ways to measure soldier fitness would be on their desks in 2015. The year came and went with no fitness-test changes. Next year could be different. | Army Times >>

A government watchdog agency has recommended that Congress delay funding the littoral combat ship project until the Navy completes testing on how well the ships endure after being attacked. With six ships already delivered and 20 more under construction, the “actual lethality and survivability performance of LCS is still largely unproven through realistic testing,” concluded the Government Accountability Office in a report released Friday. | Stars and Stripes >>

#VetsRising

Quinton, a veteran of two tours on active duty in Iraq, was disabled with PTSD and worked as a long distance truck driver. He had no family and spent weeks at a time alone on the road. He was seeking a German Shepherd to join him, as both a companion and a therapy dog. When Quinton read Dudley’s story, and then saw his video, he immediately felt a bond to the dog that was also alone in the world. The next week, Quinton met Dudley, and the chemistry between them was instant. | The Examiner >>

Veterans have always been involved in the brewing industry, going back to the early days of the republic. These days, though, they’re more visible than ever, thanks to veteran-owned breweries with names such as Service, Honor and Young Veterans, and as liquor stores and bars across the country stock beers called Freedom Isn’t Free IPA, Devil Dog Stout or Boot Camp Brown Ale. | Washington Post >>

After serving this country, a Jeffersontown Army veteran decided to pursue his dream by opening a motorcycle shop that rebuilds Harley Davidsons. He’s serving his community in a different way by building his business around those who have also served in the armed forces. | WDRB >>

Inside Washington

Congress on Friday passed a bill requiring the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to study the long-term effects of combat on the mental health of veterans — a dynamic that remains poorly understood despite concerns by lawmakers and the public over elevated veteran suicide rates in recent years. | New York Times >>

The Department of Veterans Affairs says it will take at least a year to formulate regulations enabling Camp Lejeune veterans to receive automatic benefits for any of eight diseases linked to contaminated drinking water at the base. | Tampa Bay Times >>

Intrusion attempts and malware targeting Veterans Affairs Department systems increased in November compared to the prior month, according to the VA’s information security monthly activity report (pdf) to Congress. In November, VA blocked 178,901,774 intrusion attempts on its networks — a more than 4 percent increase from last month’s report. | Fierce Markets >>

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