IAVA Daily News Brief – February 2, 2016

Marines with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force — Crisis Response — Central Command provide security as part of a Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel exercise at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia. | Military Times >>

Marines with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force — Crisis Response — Central Command provide security as part of a Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel exercise at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia. | Military Times >>


Today’s Top Stories

Obama unlikely to pull troops from Afghanistan before leaving office
Amid growing concern in Congress about President Obama’s plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, the prospects are fading for his goal of wrapping up U.S. military involvement by the time he leaves office. | Washington Times >>

What Is A VA Ratings Reconsideration And How Does It Work?
This question pops up in my Veterans Mail Call inbox a lot. It also frequently appears on a few social media groups and pages I frequent, and the answer to it is vital. “The VA issued a ratings decision in my case. Before I appeal, I want to request reconsideration of the decision. Should I do this? If so, how do I do it?” | Task & Purpose >>

Phone system glitch persists for suicide calls to VA Medical Center
More than 10 months have passed since Michael Grubler alerted Veterans Affairs officials to a glitch in the phone system when veterans contemplating suicide call the VA Medical Center in North Las Vegas. Callers to the VA hospital, like other VA health care facilities in the nation, are told by a recorded message to hang up and call a different number “if you’re having thoughts of hurting yourself or want to talk to a mental health professional.” | Las Vegas Review-Journal >>


The United States has carried out at least a dozen operations — including commando raids and airstrikes — in the past three weeks against militants in Afghanistan aligned with the Islamic State, expanding the Obama administration’s military campaign against the terrorist group beyond Iraq and Syria. | New York Times >>

A Taliban suicide bomber detonated at a police base in central Kabul on Monday, killing at least nine people, BBC News quoted Afghanistan’s Deputy Interior Minister Ayoub Salangi as saying. | Newsweek >>

The stories were all based on a report issued by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) concerning the construction of a compressed natural gas (CNG) station in Afghanistan as part of project to promote business opportunities in the war-torn nation. The report made a number of assertions, such as the fact that the $43 million cost appeared to be 140 times the amount needed to build a similar facility in neighboring Pakistan. It certainly sounds like a monumental waste of taxpayer money. But new information has emerged to call into question SIGAR’s claims. Let’s take a look. | Washington Post >>


The U.S.-led coalition against ISIS has tightened the noose around the extremists in the last few months. Supply lines and revenue sources have been cut off. The U.S. military says all this is weakening the group militarily. But it’s also affecting civilians in the areas ISIS controls. | NPR >>

Human Rights Watch said Sunday that powerful Iraqi Shiite militias were behind revenge attacks against Sunnis earlier this month that erupted after the Islamic State group bombed a cafe frequented by militiamen. | New York Daily News >>

Tim and Sarah Buxton landed with their young family in Iraqi Kurdistan the day before Islamic State overran nearby Mosul. Today they remain there, building communities – not camps – for people fleeing extremist violence. | The Guardian >>

Military Affairs

The new menu of re-up bonuses announced by the Army in early January are now in effect for Regular Army enlisted soldiers who are in the fiscal 2016 re-enlistment window. The Jan. 27 changes to the Tiered Selective Retention Bonus program include lump-sum cash incentives in more than 200 specialty, skill and career management field combinations. | Army Times >>

One of the biggest questions facing the future of US Navy carrier-based aviation is what will be the primary mission of its new unmanned jet. Some believe the aircraft – to be produced by the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program – should be a stealthy strike jet able to penetrate an enemy’s defenses without risking a pilot. Others want a spy plane, able to launch from a carrier and produce high-quality, real-time intelligence. | Defense News >>

Later this year, nine enlisted sailors will head out for prestigious year-long internships with Fortune 500 companies. It is the first time enlisted will be participating in the Navy’s new Tours with Industry program, where participants will work a year-long stint at an esteemed company while earning their Navy pay and benefits. | Navy Times >>


Roshara Sanders’ commitment to inspire a generation is rooted in her desire to inspire others through not just her example but also her food. She feeds 6,000 people daily as the Executive Sous Chef for Bridgewater, a major hedge fund company. She is a combat veteran having served in Iraq and Afghanistan. | NBC News >>

Veterans from across the country hit the slopes at on Sunday as part of a free winter camp. The “Veterans No Boundaries” hosted 28 veterans from eight different states for a four-day winter camp that allows veterans with physical and emotional disabilities to reacclimate to civilian life. | News Center >>

On an unseasonably warm Saturday night in Iowa, Vincent Reul, an army veteran who served three tours in Iraq, stood outside a suburban hotel conference centre, hands stuffed in his pockets, the tail of a red Marco Rubio t-shirt bunched up on his stomach. | National Post >>

Inside Washington

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wants the Department of Veterans Affairs to allow its doctors to discuss medical marijuana with patients in states where medical marijuana is legal. Gillibrand is holding a news conference at her Manhattan office Sunday to urge a change in the current VA policy.  | NY Daily News >>

Louisiana’s former veterans secretary mismanaged his department, the state legislative auditor and inspector general said in an investigative report released Monday that describes widespread improprieties at the Department of Veterans Affairs under David LaCerte’s leadership. | Associated Press >>

Details of an ambitious plan to revamp the West Los Angeles Veteran Affairs Medical Center were released Thursday, and the revitalization is expected to change lives. Southern California has the largest number of homeless veterans in the country, but the V.A. campus will soon provide housing.  | ABC 7 News >>

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