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IAVA Daily News Brief – January 20, 2016

Staff Sgt. John Lopez and Staff Sgt. Travis Downing, both members of the Army's Golden Knights demonstration team, conduct a training jump over Homestead Air Reserve Base. | Military Times >>

Staff Sgt. John Lopez and Staff Sgt. Travis Downing, both members of the Army’s Golden Knights demonstration team, conduct a training jump over Homestead Air Reserve Base. | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

Stigma of the ‘damaged veteran’ a barrier to treatment, as suicides claim more US troops
Experts who work with both active-duty military and veterans say the stigma of mental illness — whether combat stress, depression, anxiety or substance abuse — continues to be an impediment to treatment, often leading to tragic consequences. With over 2.5 million men and women having served in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade, plus thousands more currently stationed overseas, experts say it’s more critical than ever to make sure those who need it find a pathway out of despair. | Fox News >>

DOD: University Of Phoenix Can Start Receiving Military Tuition Assistance Again
On Jan. 15, the University of Phoenix was notified by the Department of Defense that it would be removed from the probationary status on which it was placed in October and would once again be eligible to accept funds from military students using tuition assistance benefits. | Task & Purpose >>

VA undertakes depression, seasonal affective disorder amongst vets
Fifty-four-year-old Glenn Davis is not an official spokesperson for the Washington, D.C., Veterans Affairs Medical Center, but he is a current patient with a cautionary tale for Marines and Soldiers: Get help. A former member of the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, he told the Pentagram he suffered from depression throughout his military career, and claims due to social pressure and stigmas he wasn’t “man enough” to seek professional help. | Pentagram >>

Afghanistan

Representatives of four countries gathered amid tight security in the Afghan capital Kabul on Monday for a second round of talks aimed at bringing an end to Afghanistan’s 15-year war with the Taliban by charting a roadmap to peace. | Associated Press >>

The A-29 Super Tucano aircraft have finally begun arriving in Afghanistan and were expected to start flying ground attack missions for the struggling Afghan Air Force (AAF) in April, U.S. military spokesmen said Tuesday. | Military.com >>

The Taliban were threatening on Tuesday to capture three key strategic districts in Afghanistan’s province of Helmand as fierce fighting with government forces stoked fears over the Islamist insurgents’ gains in their traditional heartland. | Reuters >>

Iraq

Nearly 19,000 civilians were killed in Iraq between January 2014 and October 2015 — a toll the United Nations calls “staggering” in a new report. The report, released Tuesday, outlined the horrific impact that Iraq’s ongoing conflict is having on its civilian population. | CNN >>

Three U.S. citizens who disappeared last week in Baghdad were kidnapped and are being held by an Iranian-backed Shi’ite militia, two Iraqi intelligence and two U.S. government sources said on Tuesday. | Reuters >>

The U.N. refugee agency is warning that aid groups face a massive challenge to help up to 1.5 million civilians in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul under the control of the Islamic State group. | Associated Press >>

Military Affairs

The U.S. Army is considering buying smart optics for infantry squads, sources said. The service is drafting a requirement for a squad fire-control system designed around a common weapon optic, a technology that would link all of the squad members’ optics together, according to a source who agreed to discuss the effort on background. | Military.com >>

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller has released his planning guidance for the next four years, which includes changes to how Marines are promoted, how units develop physical fitness programs and how Marines deploy. | Marine Corps Times >>

U.S. Marines helped 360 Japanese soldiers complete part of their officer training on Okinawa. The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force officer candidates attended a presentation Friday at Camp Kinser on Marine Corps weapons, vehicles and martial arts to “better understand the force they may work with in the future,” a Marine Corps statement said. | Stars and Stripes >>

#VetsRising

Veterans are likely to play a significant part in what has been called “the Moon shot” in cancer research — the plan announced by President Barack Obama last week for a cancer fight effort to equal the country’s determination to put a man on the moon during the 1960s. | Military.com >>

A local business is trying to empower veteran amputees through artwork for their prosthetics. The Lonestar Concept and Design is a hydro graphics printing shop that can cover a surface with a pre-designed film made of dried ink that will harden to the quality of automotive paint. This is the same process they use when designing the prosthetics. The process is far from cheap; it costs close to $200 every time an item is decorated. | KRIS-TV >>

After shopping and gathering donations from the class, Monica and Andrew Hammarstedt packaged it all up and headed to the post office in Bethalto, only to find out it would cost over $100 to ship the two boxes overseas. “I immediately started to panic about the amount because I didn’t have an extra $100+ to ship these boxes,” Hammarstedt stated on Facebook. Luckily, the clerk working that day was Christian Moore, a retired Army veteran himself who spent 24 years of his life serving our country. | RiverBender.com >>

Inside Washington

A former Department of Veterans Affairs hospital director was paid $86,000 to resign after Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson determined he had retaliated against a whistle-blowing subordinate who reported him for doing little work, The Daily Caller News Foundation found. | The Daily Caller >>

In its December monthly report to Congress, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) has reported a near 61 percent decrease in PHI-related healthcare data breaches since November. This is a welcomed change to last month’s 36 percent increase in PHI-related healthcare data breaches. | Health IT Security >>

The Department of Veterans Affairs continues to struggle with how it dispenses opioid medications for vets in chronic pain. A new VA Inspector General report faults the VA San Diego Healthcare System for failing to care for a patient with traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder before he took his own life on a California gun range in October 2014. | Minneapolis Star Tribune >>

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