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IAVA Daily News Brief – February 3, 2015

Today’s Top Stories

Snow delays vote on Senate bill to address veterans’ suicide
The Senate vote on the veterans’ bill was rescheduled for Tuesday. The measure is named for Clay Hunt, a 26-year-old veteran who killed himself in 2011. The bill is in response to suicides that on average claim the lives of 22 military veterans every day. | Associated Press >>

The Other American Sniper: The Tragic Suicide of Former Marine Clay Hunt
Like American Sniper’s Chris Kyle, Clay Hunt was a Texas-bred sniper who served in Iraq and struggled with the after-effects of war when he returned home. And like Kyle, Hunt found great comfort in helping other veterans cope with their own struggles. But for Hunt, the “other battle” – as many veterans refer to the challenge of transitioning back to civilian life – proved to be too much. In 2011, the decorated former Marine took his own life at age 28. | People >>

Budget: Obama proposes big increase in VA funding
Facing a growing national crisis in veterans’ health care and a flood of new veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the president wants to give the beleaguered Department of Veterans Affairs a nearly 8 percent boost to hire more VA doctors, give veterans more healthcare options, and increase money for construction. | Stars and Stripes >>

Afghanistan

Though it may not be an official holiday, Super Bowl Sunday remains a cause for celebration for football fans throughout the United States. It’s no different for the roughly 10,600 American servicemembers still stationed in Afghanistan. | Stars and Stripes >>

The American military command in Afghanistan on Monday abruptly reversed its decision to classify details about the Afghan Army and police, information that it had said could pose a grave security risk if disclosed. | New York Times >>

Eleven Afghan police officers were killed in early morning incidents Monday, including an apparent insider attack carried out by Taliban insurgents in the southern province of Kandahar. | Los Angeles Times >>
Iraq

But all along the Kurds’ shifting front lines, it’s a tenuous hold sustained only with timely air support from the U.S.-led coalition. Questions remain whether the coalition-backed Kurds can secure strategic crossroads like Snuny and renew an offensive versus the Islamic State group, which controls a broad swath of northern Iraq from its base in Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul. | Associated Press >>

President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2016 budget requests $8.8 billion to fund U.S. efforts to fight Islamic State militants, bolster Iraq’s army and strengthen the “moderate” opposition in Syria, documents released on Monday showed. | Reuters >>

The defeat of Islamic State forces in the Syrian city of Kobani may be difficult to replicate quickly in other parts of Syria and Iraq, where ground forces are too weak to repel the militants. | USA Today >>

Military Affairs

The Army’s long-standing policy of masking junior officer evaluation reports once an officer is promoted to captain or chief warrant officer three has been deleted by Secretary of the Army John McHugh. | Army Times >>

President Barack Obama today requested a healthy increase in the number of MQ-9 Reaper drones that the Pentagon will purchase next year, further reversing the brief trend in fewer drone purchases. | Defense One >>

Facing a shortfall of amphibious ships that won’t go away anytime soon and an unwavering need to launch operations from the sea, the commandant has a message for Marines: If it floats, you may have to deploy on it. | Marine Corps Times >>

New Greatest Generation

While serving in Afghanistan, Martin Pollock was hit by an explosive which took his legs and one arm. Despite being a triple amputee, he has done everything to get back to an active life. | Huffington Post >>

A U.S. Army sergeant’s yellow Lab mix ran off after a squirrel one day, and for a while, no one was quite sure where the animal was. The sergeant, Garry Ray Davis, had reportedly left his beloved dog with his parents in Lawrenceville, Georgia, while he trained at Fort Benning. Eventually, Davis got the call that his dog, Spartacus, had been found — but with two gunshot wounds. | The Blaze >>

When Jose Perez left the Army in 2007, he struggled to connect with his three kids. He’d just returned, wounded, from his third deployment to Iraq, and he felt emotionally distant and detached from his children. Things were especially rough with his oldest son, who was then 9 years old. “He felt like I’d chosen something else over him,” Perez says. | Washington Post >>

Inside Washington

Pentagon officials plan to transfer funds away from overseas military operations now that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have officially come to an end. The decision to transfer the funding into another account that is subject to budget restrictions comes with fiscal and political complications. | Washington Times >>

The Veterans Affairs Department would be funded to nearly $169 billion next year under the budget proposed by the White House on Monday, but a plan to redirect some of the $15 billion appropriated to VA last year under the Veterans Choice Act already is drawing fire from Congress. | Military.com >>

A Department of Veterans Affairs’ employee took documents containing personal information of four veterans outside the Cleveland Federal Building last fall where they were left unattended for two to three days before being found by another employee, a VA security official tells I-Team 8. | WISH-TV >>

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