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IAVA Daily News Brief – February 24, 2015

Today’s Top Stories

VA secretary hopes Oscar-winning film raises suicide awareness
The HBO documentary “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1,” an about the Department of Veterans Affairs’ 24-hour call center for troubled veterans and servicemembers, won the Academy Award on Sunday for best short-subject documentary. | Stars and Stripes >>

Filmmakers put veterans and suicide in spotlight
Dana Perry and Ellen Goosenberg Kent spent months at the Department of Veterans Affairs’ suicide hotline headquarters filming Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1, which showed the dedicated efforts staffers make to prevent veterans from killing themselves. Their Oscar on Sunday night was for best documentary short subject. | USA Today >>

‘Boots on the Ground’: How do veterans change government?
After more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, a new generation of veterans is serving in Congress. The legislative branch currently includes at least 22 veterans of those conflicts, a new high even as the total number of military veterans in Congress declines. | Washington Post >>

Afghanistan

The new Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, is one week on the job and already wrapping up an overseas trip to Afghanistan and Kuwait. Carter is getting up to speed on two of the Pentagon’s top priorities: the war in Afghanistan and the fight against the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or ISIS. | NPR >>

The government of Afghanistan is close to beginning direct peace talks with Taliban insurgents for the first time, according to senior Afghan officials. | Los Angeles Times >>

Two UK servicemen died in Afghanistan when they were mistakenly targeted with an anti-tank missile in a “friendly fire” incident, an inquest has heard. | BBC News >>

Iraq

The Kurds fighting the so-called Islamic State are attracting combatants from all over the world. Some head into battle out of conviction. Others want to make a buck. | The Daily Beast >>

A U.S. Marine who vanished in Iraq in 2004 has been sentenced to two years in prison for leaving his post and then fleeing to Lebanon after a brief return to the U.S. As part of the sentence handed down Monday, Cpl. Wassef Hassoun will have a reduction in rank, loss of pay and a dishonorable discharge. | Fox News >>

A series of 25 U.S.-led airstrikes hit Islamic State (ISIS) forces across Syria and Iraq early Monday and on Sunday. Last week, 15 airstrikes targeted the terrorist group in both countries as part of an ongoing operation to eliminate ISIS. | Newsweek >>

Military Affairs

The Air Force Academy is “in very preliminary discussions” with television host Ellen DeGeneres’ producers to do a show focusing on the academy, and possibly its first female superintendent. | Air Force Times >>

This year alone, the Army is seeking about 5,000 candidates for special operations to include: 3,000 candidates to try out for Special Forces; more than 950 soldiers to serve in civil affairs and another 800 for psychological operations. | Army Times >>

New Defense Secretary Ash Carter signaled support for allowing transgender individuals to serve in the military, the latest sign that the controversial policy may change before the end of the Obama administration. | Military Times >>

New Greatest Generation

Warrior 1 yoga studio and the Kern County Heroes Fund have teamed up to offer something special to local men and women of service. “We help service members from Iraq and Afghanistan that have served in their transition, whatever it looks like,” said Joe Drullard, an Army veteran and representative for the Kern County wounded heroes fund. | ABC 23 >>

The pill of choice for former Marine Kenny Bass is a four-legged German Shepherd named Atlas. Suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after a tour in Iraq, Bass, 33, was taking 30 pills a day and seeing a counselor three times a week. | Battle Creek Enquirer >>

The ROTC cadets and military veterans were up before dawn on Friday for a run commemorating National Veteran Patients Month. | The Daily Cougar >>

Inside Washington

For anyone curious about the lives of veterans once they return home, the Veteran Vision Project photo collection is a revelation. | CBS News >>

Donna Barton doesn’t know exactly how much money she has saved the Department of Veterans Affairs, but it’s in the tens of millions of dollars. “It could be in the billions by now,” the 65-year-old registered nurse said, laughing. “When you take in all the services I’ve provided for free for decades … there’s just so much involved.” | Military Times >>

President Obama signs an act aimed at reducing the military and veteran suicides, while $300 million in grants are being made available to get veterans and their families off the streets. | Providence Journal >>

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