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IAVA Daily News Brief – January 29, 2015

Today’s Top Stories

VA Settles Lawsuit, Plans Housing For Vets On LA Campus
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said Wednesday it has settled a lawsuit with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, filed in 2011 on behalf of Vietnam Veterans of America and a small group of homeless veterans. | Wall Street Journal >>

Lawmakers mull forcing VA to release data
Members of a House subcommittee lashed out at the Department of Veterans Affairs on Wednesday for withholding information they and budget researchers say is crucial to overseeing the VA’s ailing health care system and said they are considering legislation that will force department to release data. | Stars and Stripes >>

Reid revives veterans compensation bill
A bill that would provide full benefits to retired veterans who collect both pension checks and disability payments was reintroduced in Congress this week. Sen. Harry Reid on Tuesday revived legislation to change the federal policy requiring a veteran’s retirement pay to be reduced by the amount he or she collects in disability. | Las Vegas Review-Journal >>

Afghanistan

By the time we thought about leaving Afghanistan, we’d been tossing gear into the country for more than a decade. This is the story of how we moved out. | Fast Company >>

A specially appointed congressional watchdog agency has found U.S.-funded reconstruction projects in Afghanistan are failing and costing millions of dollars. | Military Times >>

The commander of the first U.S. Army unit to fly combat missions in Afghanistan with the AH-64E Apache — the service’s newest version of the attack helicopter — praised the performance of the aircraft. | Military.com >>

Iraq

The Iraqi military just released video of airstrikes it carried out against ISIS targets in two provinces to the north and west of Baghdad. | Business insider >>

A commercial jet carrying 154 passengers was struck by gunfire as it landed at Baghdad International Airport, officials said Tuesday, adding to fears that Iraq’s most important transportation hub remains vulnerable to militant attacks. | New York Times >>

Thousands of Iraqis are living in penury and running out of money after fleeing fighting and settling in the south of the country, the UN’s food agency said on Tuesday, warning that the situation was becoming critical for families in Najaf, Kerbala and Babil. | The Guardian >>

Military Affairs

Army and Pentagon officials said Tuesday there has been no decision on what, if any, criminal charges will be filed against Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier who left his post in Afghanistan and was held by the Taliban for five years before being released in a prisoner exchange. | Associated Press >>

The U.S. Navy has unveiled new plans to employ robots to train marine forces in the future. The Office of Naval Research (ONR) on Tuesday launched a new experiment that it hopes will help create robots and other human surrogates for military training purposes. | International Business Times >>

The commandant of the Marine Corps presented a Senate committee Tuesday morning with a grim picture: Marine barracks complexes with old lead pipes and puddles of raw sewage on the floor, and a disaffected generation of Marines looking for a way out. | Marine Corps Times >>

New Greatest Generation

Daniella Itin, creator of Vets Drive Yellow NYC said she realized there was an opportunity for veterans to become involved in one of New York City’s most iconic industries. | New York Observer >>

The Nehemiah Community Reinvestment Fund and Bank of America have partnered to present a mortgage-free home to an area veteran in honor of his military service. Sgt. Brytain Geary with his wife and two children received the keys to the home this week. | Springfield News-Leader >>

Maj. Michelle Bravo, executive officer for the ASU Army ROTC, will be retiring from the military this year after serving two tours in Kuwait and one in Iraq. Because the military has had such an impact on her, she wanted to give back to female veterans. | The State Press >>

Inside Washington

What a difference a few weeks makes. An important suicide prevention bill for veterans, derailed at the end of the last Congress, is back on the fast track. The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act was unanimously passed by the House of Representatives earlier this month and the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs just last week. Now, we are counting on the Senate to act quickly and send it to the president. | The Hill >>

Now, that generation of veterans is getting older. And as many of them near the end of their lives, aging into their 80s and 90s, the demand for hospice care has been growing with them. That means that the Department of Veterans Affairs is spending a lot more on what’s known as end-of-life care. | NPR >>

The Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved legislation Wednesday that would allow businesses to exclude some veterans from ObamaCare’s employer mandate. The Hire More Heroes Act was voted out of committee 26-0, and without amendment. | The Hill >>

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman and Sen. Cory Gardner are asking Congress to raise the spending limit on Denver’s new veterans hospital from $800 million to $1.1 billion so the troubled project can be completed. | Associated Press >>

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