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IAVA Daily News Brief – January 7, 2014

Today’s Top Stories

2 Dead in Shooting at Texas V.A. Clinic
Two people were killed in a shooting on Tuesday afternoon at a veterans health clinic at the Fort Bliss Army base in El Paso, including the suspected gunman, officials said. | New York Times >>

Will Congress revisit veterans suicide prevention bill in 2015?
Bill Rausch, the Political Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, talks to Maria Teresa Kumar about the challenges our veterans face adjusting to civilian life and how we can help them and their families. | MSNBC >>

Veterans discharged after sexual trauma push for VA health benefits
It took Navy Airman Apprentice Elena M. Giordano nine years to finally be granted service-connected disability compensation from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for the post-traumatic stress disorder she suffered after multiple sexual assaults. Until recently, she was also not eligible for any VA medical care or other benefits because she was told she did not serve long enough. It’s a common problem for women and men who leave the service early due to sexual trauma. | Washington Post >>

Afghanistan

The Pentagon on Monday said it is not changing the timeline for U.S. troops to leave Afghanistan. The timeline of removing all U.S. troops by the end of 2016 remains in place, the Pentagon said, though the U.S. commander will have flexibility to change the pace of the withdrawal. | The Hill >>

A record amount of girls are in school in Afghanistan and the Constitution guarantees equality before the law. Can a decade-plus of success withstand Western withdrawal? | The Christian Science Monitor >>

The U.S. military has shifted to Operation Resolute Support in Afghanistan, ending the 13-year Operation Enduring Freedom as NATO and its allies move to new chapter there. There are many ways to contextualize that, and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan released this graphic Tuesday in an attempt to provide the scope of what they’ve done in the last year, and what comes next. | Washington Post >>

Iraq

Now that American forces, in much smaller numbers, are returning to help the Iraqis confront the extremists of the Islamic State, they have found themselves reoccupying some of their old places. And they are excavating what feels like a slowly decaying time capsule as they discover the things they left behind. | New York Times >>

Dozens of militants — believed to be ISIS members — attacked several Iraqi security posts and checkpoints in western Iraq’s Anbar province Tuesday morning, leaving at least 11 people dead and 18 others wounded, security officials in Iraq said. | CNN >>

The U.S. is actively investigating reports of civilian casualties that may have resulted from coalition strikes over Iraq and Syria, military officials said Tuesday. | Wall Street Journal >>

Military Affairs

The Navy will increase its ranks over the next five years while the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps shrink. At the same time, recent world events have changed the equation for Army and Air Force leaders weighing their own end-strength calculations, leading them to slow down or reverse planned force cuts. | Military.com >>

The head of Air Combat Command recently warned the Air Force Chief of Staff that troops who conduct unmanned air operations are overstretched and can’t meet the Pentagon’s growing demand for drones indefinitely, according to a report this week. | Stars and Stripes >>

The USS Kauffman is about to become the last of its breed. When the ship leaves Naval Station Norfolk on Thursday for a six month deployment to the waters off Central America, it will mark the final deployment of a Navy frigate. The Kauffman will be part of a multinational, counter-narcotics operation known as Operation Martillo. | Associated Press >>

New Greatest Generation

David Peters’ life was supposed to be one continuous arc of piety and service. But for the U.S. Army chaplain, it’s ended up a more circuitous route. Peters lost the very faith he was supposed to embody for his soldiers — but has also found his way back. | NPR >>

Whether it was the morning presentation to the children or the evening discussion for adults, everyone present for former Capt. Luis Carlos Montalván’s talk came away with at least one fact: This man and dog obviously love each other. | Ramona Sentinel >>

Following the death of a local marine, a woman from Altamont is trying to fast track her lifelong dream of helping veterans using horses. Adan Olid wrote a song called “I Couldn’t See The Sun Shine” as a way of coping with the trauma of three tours in Iraq. The marine from Guilderland suffered from Post-traumatic stress disorder. | WNYT >>

Inside Washington

During his confirmation in August, McDonald promised he would lead the push for “unprecedented and critical cultural change and accountability” at the VA. Instead, five months later, most of what veterans have to show for it are watered-down reforms and a new slogan. | Fox News >>

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) wants President Obama to stop by the Veterans Affairs facility that was ground zero in the scandal over patient wait times when he visits Arizona later this week. “It has been nine months since reports surfaced of veterans dying due to gross mismanagement and neglect at the Phoenix VA, and despite the passage of bipartisan reform legislation, our veterans community continues to have a serious lack of trust in the VA,” McCain said in a statement on Tuesday. | The Hill >>

On the same he was sworn into Congress for a third time, GOP Rep. Chris Gibson of New York prepared his exit from Washington. The former Army officer announced Tuesday he will not seek re-election in 2016 and will end his political career short of the four terms he vowed to serve. Gibson’s retirement would open up a district in New York’s Hudson Valley that was won by President Obama in 2012 and 2008. | USA Today >>

Veterans going to school on the GI Bill will not be affected by lower basic housing allowances that Congress imposed on active-duty troops, thanks to eleventh-hour lobbying efforts by two House committees and veterans’ service organizations. | Military.com >>

A group of veterans surrounded Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., a veteran himself, as he laid out what he called his number one priority for the upcoming legislative session in Washington. “Having fought successfully abroad, they come back and lose the war with inner demons that cause them to commit suicide,” Blumenthal said Tuesday at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. | WTNH 8 >>

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