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IAVA Daily News Brief – January 22, 2015

Today’s Top Stories

Senate Panel Backs Bill to Lower Suicide Rate Among Vets
A bill aimed at reducing a suicide epidemic among military veterans cleared a Senate committee on Wednesday, as lawmakers vowed quick action on a measure that was blocked in the last session of Congress. | New York Times >>

National Geographic explores ‘invisible’ war wounds
National Geographic in its February cover story takes readers through a visually striking, two-part reflection series about veterans coping with their own war beyond the battlefields. “Sometimes you find yourself saying, I wish … I would have lost a body part, so people will see — so they’ll get it,” says Army First Sgt. David Griego in “Revealing the Trauma of War.” | Military Times >>

Veteran Advocates Unhappy With Obama’s ‘Disappointing’ State Of The Union Speech
President Barack Obama said during his State of the Union speech on Tuesday that if you want to get the job done and done right, “hire a veteran.” But despite the president’s endorsement, veteran advocacy groups aren’t happy with what they heard in the speech. They are especially unhappy that last year’s Veterans Health Administration scandal and ongoing suicide epidemic among veterans did not feature more prominently. | International Business Times >>

Afghanistan

Across a violent swath of southern Afghanistan, rumors are swirling about a band of former Taliban fighters who have claimed allegiance to the Islamic State and are said to be fighting their former comrades for dominance. | New York Times >>

Human Rights Watch has released a report titled “Stop Reporting or We’ll Kill Your Family” that says perpetrators of violence against journalists in Afghanistan are rarely punished, adding that the country’s media freedom is under attack. | USA Today >>

President Obama walked an awkward line between recognizing a new war in Iraq and Syria and trying to turn a page from more than a decade of “two long and costly wars” during his State of the Union speech Tuesday. The president noted the end of the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan and a greatly reduced U.S. troop presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, from 180,000 down to fewer than 15,000. | The Hill >>

Iraq

President Barack Obama asked Congress Tuesday to authorize military action against Islamic State extremists, saying the U.S. can defeat them without being “dragged into another ground war in the Middle East.” | Bloomberg >>

The box office smash “American Sniper” is opening a new front in the culture wars by reigniting debate over the Iraq War. | The Hill >>

Islamic State militants are trying to recapture territory in northern Iraq and confronting US-backed Kurdish forces. President Obama said in his State of the Union address that ‘American leadership’ had stopped militants’ advance in Iraq and Syria. | The Christian Science Monitor >>

Military Affairs

The US military wants to upgrade its stable of combat choppers. One possible model for future combat aircraft can take off and land vertically, and then fly like a traditional airplane. | Business Insider >>

The Marine Corps is close to completing a realignment of its elite Special Operations troops, sending some of them to the Middle East this month as part of a broader effort to refocus after years of fighting in Afghanistan, according to a top general. | Washington Post >>

Internal watchdog report obtained by the Guardian shows Pentagon has questioned the air force’s increased spending on drones, suggesting it is a waste of money. | The Guardian >>

New Greatest Generation

Aaron Boyer is what they call an expert donor. He’s been donating blood and platelets at places like University Hospital for 15 years now. “I was initially doing it because I was in the Air Force and they had a blood drive in the place I worked. And then I started seeking out places to do it,” Boyer said. | KSAT >>

Even before he spoke, Marine Sgt. Jake Wood drew a standing ovation Tuesday from hundreds of those in attendance at a Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon. Wood served two tours in Iraq as an infantry squad leader and sniper scout. | MLive.com >>

Mark Spencer recently spent a weekend in the Yankton area with two disabled veterans. During the course of the weekend, the group did some white-tail doe management hunt along the South Dakota and Nebraska border, through Spencer’s organization, Patriot Outdoors Adventures. | Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan >>

Inside Washington

In the latest black eye for the Department of Veterans Affairs, congressman grilled officials Wednesday over construction mismanagement that has cost the department hundreds of millions of dollars in overruns and delayed major projects by years. | Stars and Stripes >>

A memorial dedicated to those who served in the Persian Gulf War is inching closer to becoming a reality. The National Desert Storm War Memorial was approved by Congress in December, and it now goes to the National Park Service for the process of selecting a site. | Army Times >>

The Veterans Affairs Department said Tuesday it is offering relief to more than two dozen employees who faced retaliation after filing whistleblower complaints about wrongdoing at VA hospitals and clinics nationwide. | Associated Press >>

 

 

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