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IAVA Daily News Brief – January 12, 2016

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The guided-missile destroyer Ross prepares to pull out of Souda Bay, Greece. | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

What Obama’s last State of the Union holds for troops, vets
Last year, the president did not mention foreign policy or national security until he was more than 3,500 words into his address. White House officials haven’t hinted whether those issues will take a larger role in Tuesday’s speech. In a video preview Jan. 5, Obama said his speech would focus on America’s “capacity to change for the better, our ability to come together as one family and pull ourselves closer to the America we believe in.” | Military Times >>

3 Postwar Challenges That Military Families Continue To Face
Veteran organizations and military publications are giving more and more attention to this ever growing epidemic of health concerns with our veterans, as they should, but few are addressing the effects of war on the military family, specifically that of the military spouse. Here are three postwar challenges many military spouses currently face. | Task & Purpose >>

Lack of compensation for veterans suffering from asbestos exposure
Around the world, military and navy veterans are dying from mesothelioma (a rare kind of cancer) contracted from exposure to asbestos whilst they were on military service. But rather than aiding war heroes, laws are threatening to prevent veterans from accessing compensation. | The Examiner >>

Afghanistan

Delegates from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States held talks on Monday to try to resurrect efforts to end nearly 15 years of bloodshed in Afghanistan, even as fighting with Taliban insurgents intensifies. | Reuters >>

Afghanistan is using an abandoned military base to house and treat drug addicts as it finally takes on a national heroin epidemic. The Afghan government has begun a program of removing Kabul’s drug addicts from beneath riverbed bridges, where they congregate amid so many needles left on the ground that they make crunching noises when anyone walks through. | UPI >>

The US Agency for International Development, known as USAID, has spent around $260 million on health clinics in Afghanistan — but many of those facilities lack electricity, adequate medical supplies, and sanitary waste disposal systems. And while each clinic is supposed to be tagged with a GPS identifier, many cannot be located using the official coordinates provided by the US government. | VICE News >>

Iraq

At least 10 people were killed and 22 were injured when insurgents attacked a shopping mall in Baghdad Monday with hand grenades and at least two nearby bombs, police told NBC News. | Associated Press >>

A Virginia couple was surprised after receiving a letter their son sent almost 11 years ago while serving in Iraq. The Roanoke Times reports David Craig got the letter last week from his son Lynn Craig, who returned safely from Iraq in September 2005. | Associated Press >>

U.S. military officials have expressed qualified optimism about Iraqi forces’ accomplishments against Islamic State in the western city of Ramadi, demonstrating a determination some American officers said they haven’t seen in months. | Wall Street Journal >>

Military Affairs

A wide-ranging Defense Department review of military decorations recommended leaving eligibility rules for the Combat Action Badge as they stand — a blow to one lawmaker’s push to award the medal to soldiers who served before 2001. | Army Times >>

Under pressure from Congress, Acting Army Secretary Eric Fanning will step down from his position while he waits for his confirmation hearing to begin for the secretary’s chair, the Pentagon announced Monday. | Military Times >>

U.S. Army Europe is pulling larger numbers of National Guard and Army Reserve forces across the Atlantic to carry out a mission that the active force is too stretched to accomplish alone. More than 10,000 National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers will cycle through Europe in the year ahead, nearly double the number last year. | Stars and Stripes >>

#VetsRising

Staff Sgt. Spencer Stone — who thwarted a terrorist attack on a Paris-bound train, earning him a Purple Heart, Airman’s Medal and a two-rank bump in promotion — will be one of six veterans to attend President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday. | Air Force Times >>

Who would have ever imagined that an American hero whose job is to protect lives would have his own life salvaged by a groundbreaking miracle of modern medicine? We are talking about the incredible healing powers of a little white ball. | Orlando Sentinel >>

Like most people, veterans seek career momentum, money, mentorship and mission in their civilian employment. Of these, the mission element can be the hardest to replicate. After bonding with colleagues to fight terrorists and defend the nation, it can be difficult to get excited about sales quotas and abstract operating business metrics. Successful transitioning veterans learn through experience that if they cannot find mission satisfaction in their day jobs, they can find it through volunteering in their local communities. | U.S. News & World Report >>

Inside Washington

Two House lawmakers say the Department of Veterans Affairs is preparing to overspend by unnecessarily creating its own $624-million scheduling system to ease persistent delays in veteran health care. | Stars and Stripes >>

Lawmakers will fit in a few defense and veterans hearings this week around President Obama’s already scheduled annual State of the Union address and subsequent congressional party retreats. Both the House and Senate foreign relations committees will focus on the recent nuclear test in North Korea, and its possible effects on security in the Pacific region. | Military Times >>

Inefficient document preparation and handling of hard-copy veteran materials has led to claims processing problems at a Veterans Affairs Department regional office in St. Petersburg, Fla., according to a Jan. 6. VA Office of Inspector General report. | FierceGovernmentIT >>

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