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IAVA Daily News Brief – January 14, 2015

Today’s Top Stories

Military suicides up slightly in 2014
Suicides among members of the active-duty military personnel rose slightly in 2014, led by increases in the number of sailors and airmen who took their own lives, new Defense Department figures show. | Associated Press >>

VA Data Show Disparities In Veteran Benefits Spending
NPR, together with member stations WBUR, Lakeshore Public Radio and KUOW, looked at data from 3,000 counties nationwide, and found there’s a huge variation in coverage from state to state — and even within a state — on how much the VA spends per veteran. | NPR >>

Clay Hunt Suicide Bill Returns to Senate
Legislation intended to prevent suicide among veterans was re-introduced in the Senate on Tuesday, where passage last month was thwarted by a single lawmaker’s hold on the bill. | Military.com >>

Afghanistan

Several reports in the last few days suggest that the Islamic State is now recruiting in southern Afghanistan, the spiritual heart of the Taliban and the site of fierce combat between U.S. troops and insurgents in recent years. At the center of it: a former Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detainee who led a Taliban unit before the U.S. sent forces into the country in 2001. | Washington Post >>

As of Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2014, at least 2,213 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count. | Associated Press >>

Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for a blast Tuesday that killed at least one civilian and injured three others in Kabul. | LA Times >>

Iraq

France’s lower house of Parliament on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved extending French airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Iraq. | Huffington Post >>

Some Iraqi Shiite officials credit Iran with saving Baghdad from Islamic State forces, deriding US military support as ineffective or slow. But Sunnis say Iranian assistance comes at a high price. | The Christian Science Monitor >>

Coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria have had clear benefits, but a broader campaign involving more intelligence and targeting assistance on the ground is required to reap the full strategic benefits of turning back ISIS. | Business Insider >>

Military Affairs

The U.S. Army created Warrior Transition Units (WTUs) for the purpose of providing unique support to wounded, injured or ill soldiers. The time spent at these WTUs will be the last weeks and final memories that these wounded warriors have of their service to our nation. But for too many, the experience is still one of neglect, disrespect and trauma. | The Hill >>

Got a beef with the tape test? There may be some good news ahead. The Marine Corps is conducting research that compares results of the much-maligned taping method to measure body fat with data from the Bod Pod — an expensive and high-tech fat-measuring method that gets highly accurate readings through air displacement. | Marine Corps Times >>

The U.S. Navy’s surface forces commander on Tuesday called for putting more offensive weapons on a broader range of U.S. ships given escalating threats and concerns in the Asian-Pacific region. | Reuters >>

New Greatest Generation

BR McDonald founded the Veteran Artist Program to brings art, music, theater, and painting to communities across the country while helping veterans launch careers in the arts. | The Christian Science Monitor >>

Louisville’s push to house all its homeless veterans officially kicked off Tuesday, with Mayor Greg Fischer and The Coalition for the Homeless launching its “Rx: Housing Veterans” initiative. | The Courier-Journal >>

More military veterans are starting their own businesses. According to aging data from the Small Business Association, they are 45% more likely to be self-employed than people who never served. | WNDU >>

Inside Washington 

Veterans should have their day in court — their own special court, according to Public Advocate Letitia James. The city’s elected watchdog is urgingCourt of Appeals Chief Justice Jonathan Lippman to create a Veterans Treatment Court in Manhattan, the Daily News has learned. | New York Daily News >>

The Philadelphia VA announced a new incentive program earlier this month that rewards employees with cash and food for deciding cases quickly — a move that some employees say will encourage staff to rush claims and reject deserving applicants, once again leaving veterans struggling for benefits. | Washington Times >>

Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, introduced legislation Jan. 13 that would give the VA secretary the authority to revoke bonuses given to executives. | Federal Times >>

 

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