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IAVA Daily News Brief – January 15, 2016

U.S. paratroopers assigned to the 173rd Brigade Support Battalion, exit a U.S. Air Force 86th Air Wing C-130 Hercules at Juliet Drop Zone in Pordenone, Italy. | Military Times >>

U.S. paratroopers assigned to the 173rd Brigade Support Battalion, exit a U.S. Air Force 86th Air Wing C-130 Hercules at Juliet Drop Zone in Pordenone, Italy. | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

VA chips away at health care applications — eligibility backlog still above 500K
Veterans Affairs officials say they are chipping away at a backlog of applications for health care, following an inspector general’s report in September that found 300,000 veterans on the eligibility waiting list were dead. | Military Times >>

New study shows how explosions damage vets’ brains
Brain scans from combat veterans show that the more blasts they’re exposed to, the more damage is caused in the cerebellum, a region crucial to movement and cognitive ability, according to a study from the University of Washington and the Puget Sound VA. | Seattle Times >>

Arlington reaches milestone in housing homeless military veterans
After almost a decade of effort, Arlington County has effectively ended homelessness for military veterans, officials said Thursday, part of a national effort to house those who have no place to live. | Washington Post >>

Afghanistan

The Islamic State’s claim of responsibility for a deadly assault on a Pakistani consulate is sparking fears that the group is expanding operations in Afghanistan just as Kabul embarks on another attempt at peace talks. | Stars and Stripes >>

A benefit concert will be held in Westchester County for the family of fallen NYPD detective Joseph Lemm, who died during a suicide bombing in Afghanistan. “This family should not have to suffer practical burdens,” former Mayor Rudy Giuliani said during an emotion press conference on Thursday. “Maybe if the practical burdens were lifted, it could heal some of the scars.” | New York Post >>

The State Department on Thursday designated the Afghan affiliate of the Islamic State, a splinter group mostly made up of former Afghan and Pakistani Taliban members, as a foreign terrorist organization. | New York Times >>

Iraq

French warplanes bombed an Islamic State communications hub near Mosul in northern Iraq overnight, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Thursday. “Last night we bombed a Daesh telecommunications centre, a propaganda centre, near Mosul,” Le Drian told BFMTV, using an Arabic acronym for the IS jihadists. | AFP >>

Turkish tanks and artillery have attacked Islamic State group positions in Iraq and in Syria in retaliation for the suicide bombing in Istanbul which killed 10 tourists, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Thursday. | Associated Press >>

Islamic State militants briefly took control of a northern Iraqi village on Thursday, forcing out police and pro-government fighters and underlining the fragility of the state’s hold on the territory. | Reuters >>

Military Affairs

Gen. David G. Perkins, commanding general of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, or TRADOC, visited officials from Air Education and Training Command, Jan. 7-8, to collaborate with Air Force leaders on advancing education and innovation within the respective military services. | Air Force News >>

The surface Navy’s top officer announced on Tuesday the deployment of a surface action group this spring in a move to make the surface fleet more formidable against sophisticated adversaries. | Navy Times >>

The Army was wrapping up an investigation into the anthrax scandal focusing on the Dugway Proving Grounds site in Utah even as new questions emerged on the extent of live shipments of the deadly toxin nationwide and around the world. | Military.com >>

#VetsRising

On Feb. 6 at College of San Mateo — the Saturday before Super Bowl 50 is to be played at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara — the 30-year-old will join fellow veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces who lost limbs while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan as the WWAFT takes on San Francisco’s NFL alumni. | San Mateo County Times >>

A pivotal transition happens for veterans when they go from military to civilian life. Now, one organization is stepping up to make that process easier with a unique approach. U.S. Army Veteran Silas Rosales has been battling PTSD since serving in Iraq. He says even being in traffic and enclosed situations are triggers for him. He says, ‘I just like to keep myself busy. If I’m not getting out, I’m going into a deeper depression.’ | Fox San Antonio >>

A group in Mesa has set up camp to help homeless veterans, and it’s an around-the-clock operation. Veterans on Patrol put up their tents Tuesday night in an empty lot near McKellips Road and Country Club Drive. A large American flag draped their military-style tents. | ABC 15 >>

Inside Washington

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) union contract requires the agency hire bureaucrats over veterans for most jobs, despite federal laws and regulations that give vets hiring preference in the civil service. | Daily Caller >>

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is asking the secretary of veterans affairs to help speed up payments to health care providers through the Veterans Choice Program. | Associated Press >>

During his Senate confirmation hearing in July 2014 to head the Department of Veterans Affairs, Robert McDonald pledged to “transform” the vast agency. After horrific reports of wait-time manipulation, coverups and even deaths at VA medical facilities across the country, veterans and the American people were calling for honest leadership to restore their trust in the department created to serve them. | Wall Street Journal >>

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