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IAVA Daily News Brief – January 5, 2014

Today’s Top Stories

VA explores alternative therapies
The alternative-therapy programs mark a dramatic departure in the treatment offered to troops who are returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and seeking relief from pain. Among the options: Equine therapy. Alpha stimulation. Qigong. Guided imagery. Life coaching. Yoga and Pilates. Hypnosis. Aqua therapy. Botox. | Associated Press >>

Ex-Phoenix VA Boss Sought New Job as Investigation Loomed
In October 2013, little more than eight months into her job as director of the veterans’ healthcare center in Phoenix, Sharon Helman went looking for a job with the health care giant Kaiser Permanent. | Military.com >>

Major study of bereaved military families underway
By the hundreds, other widows, widowers, parents, siblings and children are sharing accounts of their grief as part of the largest study ever of America’s military families as they go through bereavement. About 2,000 people have participated over the past three years, and one-on-one interviews will continue through February. | Associated Press >>

Afghanistan

The Afghan government has sent a team to southern Helmand province to investigate the deaths of at least 28 people, mostly women and children, killed when soldiers fired artillery at a wedding party, officials said Friday. | Associated Press >>

As Afghanistan slips deeper into another winter, hundreds of thousands of returned refugees and others will be trying to survive another cold season while facing a future as uncertain as ever. | Stars and Stripes >>

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has said America’s two-year deadline for pulling out the last of its troops may need to be “re-examined”. US President Barack Obama is committed to withdrawing all US soldiers by the end of 2016, as Afghanistan looks after its own security. | BBC News >>

Iraq

Under a gloomy late November sky that dumped cold rain on their frontline fighting position overlooking Mosul Dam, some 16 Peshmerga fighters mustered around a small hut – the only visible means of protection from enemy fire – while others hovered around a small campfire for warmth. | Fox News >>

In Iraq’s western Anbar province, more than 300 U.S. troops are posted at a base in the thick of a pitched battle between Iraqi forces, backed by tribal fighters, and well-armed Islamic State militants. | Washington Post >>

Iran and Iraq have signed an agreement for Iran to train, advise and assist Iraqi forces similar to the deal Washington has with Baghdad in the fight against ISIS. | Military.com >>

Military Affairs

With the national unemployment rate dropping and more service members opting for the private sector, the chief of naval personnel says he wants to do everything he can to keep the best sailors in uniform longer – even if that means letting them go for a while. | The Virginian-Pilot >>

Army medics will soon use what’s been dubbed a “brain thermometer”: a mobile phone application that can, within minutes, provide health professionals data to help diagnose and measure a soldier’s injuries. | Army Times >>

There’s good news for junior officers vying for career designation in 2015. About 75 percent of first lieutenants could be designated at the first Officer Retention Board, a 15 percent bump from last year’s board. | Marine Corps Times >>

New Greatest Generation

A Utah veteran who served in Iraq continues to fight for his fellow veterans. Retired Army Sergeant Josh Hansen came home with serious physical and emotional scars of war, but found hope and healing through exercise. | KSL >>

If there is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces in need, chances are Billy Weldon will be found nearby. His Purple Heart Truck is a staple in parades in Flagstaff and across the state. A veteran himself, William “Billy” Weldon works day in and day out to do what he can to make sure veterans receive and get to the services they need and the honors they’re due. He also works tirelessly on behalf of a number of veterans organizations in Flagstaff and northern Arizona. | Arizona Daily Sun >>

Veterans and American soldiers are battling a serious mental health problem, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), that some believe needs more awareness. Here in the Tennessee Valley, John Goodman decided he needed to do something to cope with PTSD so he turned to man’s best friend. | WAAY-TV >>

Inside Washington
Efforts are under to develop a veterans court in Rutherford County this year, and similar efforts also are underway in Ohio, Kansas sand Missouri, according to the Associated Press. | The Daily News Journal >>

Congress’ approval rating hovers around 15 percent, but there’s one group of people excited about the institution: the newly elected lawmakers who are about to join its ranks. A number of the new arrivals have served in the military, something that has become increasingly rare on Capitol Hill. | Associated Press >>

 

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