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IAVA Daily News Brief – February 2, 2015

Today’s Top Stories

Solutions to VA problems are stories yet to be told
Veterans, their families and anyone interested in the well-being of former servicemen and -women breathed a sigh of relief last August when President Barack Obama signed the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 into law. | The Arizona Republic >>

MCRMC Recommendations: Change GI Bill and Other Education Benefits
The Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission recently recommended making major changes to the various education assistance programs offered by the VA. The recommendations included measures to cut bureaucracy, trim costs, and combat aggressive schools that prey on service members and veterans. | Military.com >>

Suicide in America: An awful hole
Military veterans are especially prone to suicide. Data from 48 states suggest that 30 out of 100,000 veterans kill themselves each year—a rate far higher than among civilians. Many find it hard to overcome the trauma of combat, or to adjust to civilian life. A survey by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, an advocacy group, found that 31% of veterans had considered taking their own lives. | The Economist >>

Afghanistan

A North Carolina-based firm employed three Defense Department contractors who were shot to death earlier this week in Afghanistan, according to a company news release. | Associated Press >>

Gunfire erupted on Saturday at a demonstration in Kabul where several hundred people had gathered to protest the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in the satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo, witnesses said. | New York Times >>

Hundreds of Taliban fighters have joined ISIS’ new branch in Pakistan, according to three militant commanders in the country. | NBC News >>

Iraq

Kurdish peshmerga forces retook a small crude oil station near the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk which Islamic State insurgents seized earlier on Saturday, but the fate of 15 employees remained unclear. | Reuters >>

The United Nations mission to Iraq said Sunday that violence in the country amid the war against the extremist Islamic State group killed at least 1,375 people in January. | Associated Press >>

Outgoing Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said Friday that the U.S. might need to send non-combat ground troops to Iraq to help push back Islamic State forces. | Washington Times >>

Military Affairs

IJReview talked with Johnny Walker, who was an Iraqi Muslim interpreter for many Navy SEALS, including Chris Kyle, about the claim that his dear friend was a racist. What he told us might just debunk those accusations. | IJ Review >>

There’s a new Air Force One on the way, and it’s about time. The beat-up pair of modified 747s that have been hauling the world’s most powerful passenger for 25 years are reaching the end of their useful lifespans, and are set to be replaced. | The Atlantic >>

The Navy is taking a new approach to its recruiting commercials: Appealing to people who are already in uniform, have long since left the military and those who never will join. | Associated Press >>

New Greatest Generation

Matt Gallagher writes an op-ed for The Daily Beast: “Contrary to what the Internet would have you believe there are ways of thinking about Chris Kyle other than war criminal or hero.” | The Daily Beast >>

Doctors from the Department of Veterans Affairs say that the benefits of service dogs working with the physically disabled are well-documented. However, there is no scientific literature that supports the theory that they are equally beneficial to those with mental scars. | Stars and Stripes >>

Andrew Biggio leaned heavily on local interpreters during his time in Afghanistan — and now the Marine veteran wants to repay those who resettle in his home state of Massachusetts. | Marine Corps Times >>

Inside Washington

The Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission is urging President Barack Obama to endorse and Congress to enact sweeping changes to military health insurance and retirement options to “empower” service members to make choices that would drive down compensation costs. | The Gazette >>

The editorial board for the New York Times writes an editorial: “Isn’t serving veterans the main — the only — purpose of the V.A.? Why did it have to be sued to do its job?” | New York Times >>

First lady Michelle Obama offered praise for Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” on Friday while speaking at an event to promote accurate portrayals of veterans in entertainment. | Washington Times >>

 

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