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IAVA Daily News Brief – February 10, 2015

Today’s Top Stories

Obama to hold public ceremony for veterans suicide prevention bill
President Obama on Thursday will sign legislation meant to help prevent suicides among veterans during a public ceremony. The president will sign the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act into law in a ceremony from the East Room of the White House, said a spokeswoman for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. | The Hill >>

VA Secretary Attempts to Change Culture, Combat Critics
Six months after taking over as Secretary of Veteran Affairs, Robert A. McDonald has proven himself capable in the eyes of many of leading the scandal-ridden agency. But experts agree that the Department of Veterans Affairs still has much work to do – especially regarding transparency and restoring the trust of military veterans. | U.S. News & World Report >>

Texas woman who fought to improve veterans’ care after son’s suicide will attend White House bill signing
Susan Selke, whose Marine Corps son Clay Hunt committed suicide after deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, says her son became frustrated with bureaucratic fumbling and inertia as he sought treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. | New Orleans Times-Picayune >>

Afghanistan

When Mullah Mujahid, a Taliban commander in Kunduz Province, was arrested last month, there was little reason to think it would have much consequence, either for him or for the government of Afghanistan. | New York Times >>

A former Taliban commander aligned with Islamic State was killed on Monday in an apparent airstrike in southwestern Afghanistan, Afghan officials said, marking the first apparent time the U.S. and its allies have successfully targeted a high-level leader of the movement in the region. | Wall Street Journal >>

Among the machinery of war at the world’s busiest airbase, Clark found a beautiful series of paintings by an Afghan artist that inspired his latest photobook. | The Guardian >>

Iraq

Abdullah is one of a few dozen peshmerga stationed on Mount Zartak, overlooking Mosul from the east. The city is still firmly under the control of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, but the peshmerga are in buoyant mood, having first stemmed and then partially reversed territorial gains made by ISIS last summer. | CNN >>

The U.S.-led coalition helping Iraq push back Islamic State group militants is not doing enough to match the scale of the threat, a senior Iraqi official said Monday as he called for increased firepower to defeat the extremists. | Associated Press >>

Attacks in Baghdad killed at least 22 people and wounded dozens on Monday, just days after the government lifted a nighttime curfew that had been in place in the Iraqi capital for over a decade. | Associated Press >>

Military Affairs

The Army is reorganizing 20 brigade combat teams and inactivating six others this year as it pushes to complete a sweeping — and accelerated — reorganization. | Army Times >>

The top officer of one of three services projected to spend tens of billions of dollars on stealthy new F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, now says “stealth may be overrated.” | Navy Times >>

The trial of the man accused of killing Chris Kyle opens this week with a legal question wrapped in Hollywood irony. Will post-traumatic stress syndrome become the legal defense for murdering the “American Sniper” — a man who helped other veterans battle the same affliction? | NBC News >>

New Greatest Generation

Local Army veteran and singer Lisa Marie Williams said she’s started a large scale project that will pay trib­ute to soldiers and veterans throughout the years. | Desert Dispatch >>

When you’re on the battlefield, veterans will tell you that bond with your team is inseparable. But when you come home, it can be a struggle to fit in the slower pace of real life. Even more so if you’ve suffered a traumatic brain injury. Some local soldiers want to honor one of the men they came to respect serving in Iraq. | WOWT >>

Like father, like son: Burleigh spent his adult life in the military — and in service to military veterans. Burleigh, 66, soon will step down as CEO of Operation Stand Down Tennessee, which helps veterans with job placement, housing, mental health and other areas that help them transition from active duty to civilian life. | The Tennessean >>

Inside Washington

The Government Accountability Office’s High-Risk List, which calls Congress’ attention to problematic, risky or troubled programs, is about to receive two high-profile additions. Multiple Capitol Hill sources with knowledge of the list confirmed to Nextgov that IT acquisition and operations and veteran health care are being included on the watchdog’s list. | NextGov >>

A bipartisan pair of House lawmakers recently warned their colleagues about the negative toll sequester will have on the U.S. Army’s readiness unless lawmakers reverse the looming budget cuts. | The Hill >>

The Phoenix VA is under fire once again for a mistake that sent 12 vets’ prescriptions to the wrong person. Army veteran Jerry Bliss reached out to CBS 5 News Sunday night and said he returned home to find a box with his VA prescriptions. However, the box also contained prescriptions for 12 other veterans. | KPHO CBS 5 >>

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