Donate

IAVA Daily News Brief – January 28, 2016

635894889148064750-January-27-Frontlines-1

Airmen leap from the back of a C-130J Hercules during a parachute jump over Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss. | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

VA secretary: Appeals process is ‘failing veterans’
In his second plea to Congress in a week, Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald on Wednesday said his department’s benefits appeals process is “failing veterans” and asked lawmakers for a massive overhaul to fix the process. | Military Times >>

Care About a Veteran with PTSD? Here Is How to Help
It’s not a new phenomenon for a politician to use someone’s suffering for political gain, but Sarah Palin, in addressing her son’s arrest last week for domestic violence, has managed both to propagate a series of misunderstandings about PTSD and to dishonor veterans. In addition, she demonstrated the worst way for families and friends to support someone struggling with PTSD. If you have a friend or family member you know or believe has PTSD, here are some ways you can help them: | Huffington Post >>

Banished US veterans lean on each other south of border
They served the United States on battlefields from Korea to Iraq, but now they live in the shadow of the nation they once served, deported to Mexico for offenses as minor as getting caught with marijuana. While many U.S. veterans find adjusting to civilian life difficult, writing a bad check, possessing marijuana or getting into a bar fight are enough to get some veterans banished from the nation they fought to protect. | Fox News >>

Afghanistan

The Taliban have sabotaged a major power line in the northern province of Baghlan, officials said on Wednesday, cutting a supply of electricity from Uzbekistan to Kabul, the Afghan capital, and exposing a vulnerability in the nation’s rickety infrastructure at a time when the insurgency has government forces thinly stretched. | New York Times >>

Amid growing concern about setbacks in Afghanistan, the Obama administration has chosen Lt. Gen. John W. “Mick” Nicholson, Jr., a veteran of multiple Afghan war deployments, as the next top American commander in Kabul, officials said Wednesday. | Associated Press >>

Afghanistan has failed to remedy a series of chronic human rights abuses ranging from the torture of prisoners by security forces to brutal mistreatment of women, Human Rights Watch said in a report on Wednesday. | Reuters >>

Iraq

Washington and Baghdad have cast the recent victory over Islamic State group extremists in Ramadi as proof that training efforts are paying off and that the Iraqi military has improved. But analysts and former U.S. trainers say that despite some significant advances, the battle highlighted the troops’ lingering shortcomings. And they say that last month’s success isn’t a model for retaking the much-bigger IS-held city of Mosul. | Associated Press >>

Iraqi Kurdish leaders plan to hold a referendum on the region’s independence, an official said on Wednesday, in a move that could lead to the break-up of OPEC’s second-biggest oil producer. | Bloomberg >>

Iraqi security forces said Wednesday they thwarted an attempt by ISIS militants to infiltrate a residential compound near a strategic air base in western Anbar province. Col. Mohammed Ibrahim, spokesman for Iraq’s Joint Operations Command, told CNN that the assault early Wednesday in the town of Al-Baghdadi involved suicide bombers and that the militants were killed. | CNN >>

Military Affairs

Ever wanted to write a book about a historic battle and its relevance to today, an article arguing about the nuances of the rules of engagement, a memoir from battle or simply a 500-word book review? The Army wants to make it easier for you, the soldier, to become a published author. | Army Times >>

Marine Sgt. DeMonte Cheeley wears his Purple Heart to recognize the bravery of the five service members killed in the July 16, 2015, attacks in Chattanooga. “I feel honored, but at the same time, I still don’t want to take away from the fallen five,” Cheeley told Marine Corps Times Tuesday after receiving the Purple Heart. “I’ll definitely wear it in honor of the fallen five.” | Marine Corps Times >>

The Pentagon faces a 23 percent increase in costs for its major weapons in the next six years, adding pressure to its ability to fund other needs, defense analysts warned Wednesday. Spending will peak at roughly the same time in the 2020s for dozens of major weapons programs, including the Air Force’s new Long Range Strike Bomber, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Ohio-class ballistic nuclear submarine replacement program and the replacement of the Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, said Todd Harrison, director of budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a nonprofit policy group in Washington, D.C. | Stars and Stripes >>

#VetsRising

A fallen veteran has left behind a legacy to those who have been touched by his life and service. Erick Foster’s name and heart continues to thrive after he was killed by an insurgent fire in August 2007 through a recently established non-profit organization that reaches out to local veterans. | NJ.com >>

In an extraordinary gesture of giving back, a wounded army veteran and cancer survivor has been plowing snow for his Bellevue, Nebraska neighbors using a specially rigged wheelchair. | Huffington Post >>

Video: ‘Gotham’ actor J.W. Cortes joins Cafecito host Feliciano Garcia to discuss his acting career, his years in the military and his experiences bringing up his autistic son. | MSNBC >>

Inside Washington

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is pressing the Department of Veterans Affairs to allow veterans to use medical marijuana. Currently, VA doctors are prohibited from recommending medical marijuana to their patients, even in states that have legalized pot. | The Hill >>

As noted here, while our nation’s capital is blessed with an abundance of splendid parks, statuary, monuments and memorials and while there are two memorials in Washington, D.C. called World War I memorials, neither one meets the strict interpretation of what a “national” monument is or should be. | Huffington Post >>

For years, Diana Rubens was an ostensibly successful government employee who climbed the executive ladder at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. After being tapped in 2014 to clean up the mess at its Philadelphia benefits office, she won praise. But in the last year, Rubens became something else: a poster child, deserved or not, for the flawed management at the VA. | The Philadelphia Inquirer >>

We help transitioning veterans receive their benefits.

Help us serve more than 2,000 vets this year