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IAVA Daily News Brief – January 12, 2015

Today’s Top Stories

VA secretary tells student veterans: ‘Come join us’
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald on Friday encouraged student veterans to join his agency as it tries to improve customer service and recover from the biggest scandal in its history. | The Washington Post >>

A new voice for sexual assault victims in the military
It took the Air Force to change — to radicalize, really — Maribel Jarzabek. Specifically, it took the Air Force lawyer serving in the newly created role of “special victims’ counsel” to become convinced that sexual assault cases cannot be fairly handled under the existing rules. | Washington Post >>

2014: A banner year for post-9/11 vet employment
The past year may have been the best ever for employment of the latest generation of veterans, government data show. The annual unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans in 2014 was 7.2 percent, according to information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Friday. | Air Force Times >>

Afghanistan

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff doesn’t entirely share his boss’s unbridled optimism about the future of Afghanistan. | Washington Times >>

Adherents of Islamic State this weekend declared their intention to step up operations in Afghan territory where the Taliban have long held sway, raising the prospect of battling jihadist groups and rising terrorism in the region. | Wall Street Journal >>

Late last month, United States and NATO forces watched as Gen. John Campbell rolled up the green and white flag of the International Security Assistance Force, a symbolic gesture that represented the end of America’s 13-year combat mission of peacekeeping and reconstruction in Afghanistan. | PBS >>

Iraq

Islamic State militants have killed at least 24 members of the Kurdish security forces in a surprise attack in northern Iraq, Kurdish officials said, in one of the deadliest single battles for the Kurds since last summer. | Reuters >>

U.S.-led forces launched five air strikes near Kobani, Syria, and six in Iraq since Thursday in their battle against Islamic State militants, the American military said. | Reuters >>

The U.S. is looking at ways to increase its aid to the Iraqi security forces, including help with ways to counter roadside bombs and buildings rigged to explode, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the top military officer, said Thursday. | Military.com >>

Military Affairs

The Army plans to send a brigade of tanks and fighting vehicles into Europe by the end of this year, according to the top Army commander in the region. | The Hill >>

Marines across the Corps strongly feel that trust and internal cohesion is a problem within units and that money and supplies are not well managed, according to new data pulled from a service-wide commandant of the Marine Corps command climate survey. | Marine Corps Times >>

Even before microgrids attracted attention in the mainstream media for keeping the lights on in the wake Hurricane Sandy, the U.S. Navy was kicking around the concept of a mobile microgrid. | Forbes >>

New Greatest Generation

In 2012, actor Bradley Cooper called up former Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Chris Kyle to discuss the movie he was developing based on Kyle’s memoir, “American Sniper.” | Navy Times >>

Freezing temperatures didn’t stop a Virginia man from finishing a 100-mile march from Richmond to the Arlington National Cemetery in under 48 hours, with his American flag flapping from his backpack. | WNEW >>

Younger veterans’ tattoos are different than those worn by their World War II and Korean War counterparts — today, they are often larger, more colorful and artistic, relating more personal, intimate stories of their military service. | The Sun Herald >>

Inside Washington

Military families are especially vulnerable to predatory lending. That’s why Congress passed the Military Lending Act (MLA) in 2006 – to protect servicemembers and their dependents from high-cost credit products. But the rules that resulted from the law are narrowly written and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) says that creates “loopholes” that allow abusive practices to continue. | NBC News >>

Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), chair of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, has made his picks for subcommittee chairs. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) will head the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Mich.) will chair Health, Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) will chair the Economic Opportunity and Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-La.) will lead on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs. | The Hill >>

President Obama drew criticism from veterans and lawmakers for not stopping by the infamous Phoenix Veterans Affairs hospital while in Arizona Thursday. The President passed on visiting the site that sparked a federal investigation into its delayed medical care scandal which highlighted the horrible conditions of the VA system nationwide. | Washington Free Beacon >>

 

 

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