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IAVA Daily News Brief – January 6, 2014

Today’s Top Stories

GOP Bill Would Adjust Employer Mandate, Help Veterans
The Hire More Heroes Act would exempt from the employee count post-9/11 veterans, who already receive health coverage through the defense department or the department of Veterans Affairs and therefore would not require it from their employer. | US News & World Report >>

More Iraq, Afghanistan veterans to serve in Congress
When the 114th Congress convenes Tuesday, 25 lawmakers who served in the military during the Iraq or Afghanistan wars will be among the members of the House and Senate gathering on Capitol Hill. | USA Today >>

Why the AF’s chief prosecutor left to fight for sex assault victims
Don Christensen felt like a man unburdened. On a cold day in early December, the former Air Force chief prosecutor sat at a table inside the tiny Washington office of the victims advocacy group of which he had recently been named president. | Air Force Times >>

Afghanistan

Even though NATO’s mission in Afghanistan formally ended last week, there are growing indications the war there is far from over. Fox News National Security Analyst KT McFarland spoke to Ambassador James Jeffrey and James Carafano about the country’s security outlook. | Fox News >>

After falling to record lows, support for the Afghanistan war has risen since 2013, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll that also finds majority support for a plan to keep thousands of troops in the country in the coming year. | Huffington Post >>

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said during a televised interview that perhaps President Obama ought to think twice about withdrawing all troops from his country by 2016. | Washington Times >>

Iraq

Four heavily armed men from Iraq attacked a Saudi Arabia border patrol early Monday, firing automatic weapons and detonating suicide belts in a confrontation that left three guards and all the assailants dead, Saudi officials said. | New York Times >>

The 320 U.S. troops at Al Asad air base in Iraq are now coming under “regular” mortar and rocket fire from nearby ISIS fighters, according to Pentagon spokesman Col. Steven Warren. While the attacks are “completely ineffective,” it is raising continuing concern that U.S. forces in Iraq can be kept safe and at least technically out of a combat role, a separate defense official said. The Pentagon would not say whether security measures had changed at the base. | CNN >>

Senior defense officials confirmed Monday that the al-Assad airbase in Iraq, where U.S. military are training Iraqi security forces, has been pounded almost daily by mortar attacks from ISIS militants, but claimed the attacks have been “completely ineffective.” | NBC News >>

Military Affairs

Just months after bringing home the last of its M1 Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles from Europe, the Army’s heavy vehicles are back in the region as it faces a new but familiar threat. | Army Times >>

It has been more than a week since AirAsia Flight 8501 disappeared over the Java Sea, and the U.S. Navy has turned to an old standby to help find the main wreckage site: Tow Fish side-scan sonar. | Washington Post >>

U.S. Cyber Command this year is recruiting and training airmen to join one of the Air Force’s 39 cyber mission force teams that will be established over the next two years. The command needs about 1,715 airmen for the Air Force teams, as part of a Defense Department-wide effort that will put in place 133 cyber mission force teams with 6,000 personnel by 2017. | Air Force Times >>

New Greatest Generation

Dustin DeMoss writes a blog for Huffington Post: There’s no doubt that the rising veteran suicide rate is one of the most serious issues currently being discussed in the news. With various reports focusing on different statistics and emphasizing different areas of concern, however, it can be difficult to determine precisely what information is being conveyed. What is the suicide rate among military veterans, and how have these numbers been compiled? | Huffington Post >>

A fledgling program in the Veterans Court at 2nd Judicial District Court gives vets like Landry – who have landed in trouble with the law because of trauma associated with combat – a mission to help train service dogs. Veterans Court is a post-plea program that allows veterans who qualify and meet certain requirements to obtain a conditional discharge at its conclusion. | Albuquerque Journal >>

The city of Houston is co-sponsoring a first-ever business plan competition for military veteran entrepreneurs and business owners, aiming to pool as much as $1 million in investor funding for the winners. | Houston Chronicle >>

Inside Washington 

Despite heightened awareness of military suicides, the Department of Veterans Affairs is incorrectly reporting suicide data and does a poor job of tracking and caring for vets at risk who are prescribed antidepressants, according to a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. | Minneapolis Star Tribune >>

Pat LaMarche writes a blog for Huffington Post: 2015 promises to be a big year — especially if President Obama and former Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric Shinseki make good on their promise to end homelessness among veterans by December 31. If you listen to the pabulum spewed by countless politicians and their millions of constituents, the United States is a nation that loves its veterans and shares high-grade moral outrage when anyone disrespects them. | Huffington Post >>

House Republicans will use a veterans jobs bill to help launch their new congressional session and renew their attacks on the president’s health care priorities. | Military Times >>

A Merit Systems Protection Board judge upheld the Veterans Affairs Administration’s decision to fire the head of the VA’s Phoenix medical center, which came under fire for doctored wait lists last year. | Fierce Government >>

 

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