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IAVA Daily News Brief – January 5, 2016

Ice covered trees, parking lots and the ground while light medium tactical vehicles are staged at the Oklahoma Highway Patrol station at Perry, Oklahoma. | Military Times >>

Ice covered trees, parking lots and the ground while light medium tactical vehicles are staged at the Oklahoma Highway Patrol station at Perry, Oklahoma. | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

Justice Department shuts down 46 investigations into VA wait time scandal
Justice Department officials have declined to pursue dozens of criminal investigations into employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs who allegedly participated in a national effort to cover up long delays in care by creating fake patient waiting lists. | Washington Examiner >>

Connecticut senator calls for inquiry into vet’s death at VA center
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal is calling for an investigation into a veteran’s death at the West Haven Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Blumenthal said Saturday he contacted the VA’s Office of Inspector General. | Associated Press >>

Exposure Therapy: A Surprisingly Effective Treatment for Depression
Exposure therapy can seem similar to desensitization. People with PTSD, including combat veterans and rape and assault survivors, may experience nightmares and flashbacks that bring the traumatic event back. They may also avoid situations that can trigger similar memories and may become upset, tense, or have problems sleeping after the trauma. | Yahoo! Health >>

Afghanistan

Afghan troops rappelled from helicopters onto the roof of a four-story building near the Indian Consulate in a northern city on Monday to drive out gunmen who had attacked the diplomatic mission the night before, officials said. | Associated Press >>

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack on a compound for civilian contractors near the Kabul airport on Monday, a senior security official said, hours after another suicide bomber blew himself up. | NBC News >>

A major militant group, Hezb-e-Islami, has endorsed an Afghan government initiative to spur peace talks that aims to end an increasingly violent and fractured insurgency. | Stars and Stripes >>

Iraq

When Iraq’s prime minister holds a meeting on Monday to discuss the monumental task of rebuilding the recently liberated city of Ramadi, officials will encounter a grim pattern: Each time Islamic State is uprooted, the battles and the group’s tactics leave behind a legacy of destruction that will linger for years. | Wall Street Journal >>

Islamic State militants attacked Iraqi troops and allied tribal fighters outside the western town of Haditha on Monday, killing at least 11 and wounding dozens, officials said. | Associated Press >>

Thousands of protesters marched in Baghdad and Iraq’s southern Shi’ite cities on Monday condemning the execution of a prominent Shi’ite cleric by Saudi Arabia. Riyadh’s execution on Saturday of the cleric, Nimr al-Nimr, and three other Shi’ites on terrorism charges along with dozens of Sunni jihadists have stirred up protracted Middle East rivalries and driven up tension across the region. | Reuters >>

Military Affairs

The Army is looking for a few brave men and women to fight the urge to eat fresh and wholesome food for three weeks. The U.S. Army Institute of Environmental Medicine in Natick, Mass., is seeking volunteers between the ages of 18 and 62 to eat nothing but MREs (Meals, Ready-to-Eat) in a bid to improve both the taste and nutrition of the much-maligned packets. | LA Times >>

With the projected completion of the Defense Department’s Cyber Mission Force slated for 2018, the individual services are staffing up to fill their requirements to the overall force, expected to number more than 6,000. As cyber operations become more important, so too will the cyber force. “Our cyber and our space capabilities, they enable everything we do nowadays,” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said during a town hall at Fort Meade in December, responding to a question regarding the role the Air Force will play in the fight against ISIS. | Defense Systems >>

CURV stands for “Cable-controlled Underwater Recovery Vehicle,” and U.S. Navy Captain Gregg Baumann, the Navy’s supervisor of salvage and diving, shows Scott Pelley how it is aiding the search for El Faro’s black box. “At the end of the day what it is that you really want to do is bring answers back, help bring closure to the families,” Baumann explains in the story, which was produced by Patricia Shevlin and Miles Doran. | CBS News >>

#VetsRising

When service men and women return home from duty, some times the battle continues at home emotionally. A Billings group called “Warrior Wishes” works to make veterans find peace through group activity. This weekend, veterans unwound with curling. | KPAX >>

Since his deployment, the 35-year-old has lived an isolated life. But lately he’s been crawling out of the darkness with help from Maggie, an adopted puppy who is training to be his service dog. “Me and her just get along. I’m very anti-social, and Maggie gets me out of the house. She gives me companionship when my wife is at work,” he said. | Springfield News-Leader >>

Military families can learn how to help troops and veterans struggling with mental illness during classes offered by the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Colorado Springs. The classes, held on Wednesday evenings for six weeks starting Jan. 20, aim to give families coping techniques and tips on resources for mental health care. | Colorado Springs Gazette >>

Inside Washington

“This place has been a godsend,” said Perez, 29, looking out the wall-to-wall windows on one side of his seventh-floor room, with views of the border-town sprawl that spreads across the Rio Grande into Nuevo Laredo. “It gives you a chance to catch your breath.” But the forces of progress soon will engulf the oasis. The center closed Thursday because of the hotel’s pending sale and renovation, and half the 28 veterans enrolled in the program at the start of December will have moved out by month’s end. | Associated Press >>

In Connecticut, there are 209,882 veterans, according to the most-recent U.S. census data, and 29.4 percent are over the age of 75. This group forms the core of veterans with chronic medical issues who are targeted by a VA program to treat them in their own homes. | CT Post >>

The U.S. Veteran’s Administration Monday announced new proposed guidelines meant to lower the copay for veterans buying prescription drugs. The VA estimates about 80% of eligible veterans would save between $1 and $5 per month’s supply of a prescription under the new guidelines and 6% would see an increase. | Modern Healthcare >>

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