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IAVA Daily News Brief – July 13, 2015

Aviation Machinist’s Mate Airman Alex Cowen, left, and Aviation Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Tamatha Shulmerich, assigned to the "Golden Eagles" of Patrol Squadron (VP) 9, troubleshoot engine four on a P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft. | Military Times >>

Aviation Machinist’s Mate Airman Alex Cowen, left, and Aviation Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Tamatha Shulmerich, assigned to the “Golden Eagles” of Patrol Squadron (VP) 9, troubleshoot engine four on a P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft. | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

Blended military retirement reform will financially empower troops
While certain categories of service members may retire early for medical reasons, the vast majority of military retirement benefits have traditionally been awarded to those who serve for the long haul and give 20 years or more.​These​”military retirees” take off the uniform for the last time and earn a pension benefit in which they collect 50 percent of their last salary as stated by their leave and earnings statement. | The Hill >>

White House promises action on VA inspector general
White House officials say they do plan to fill the vacant inspector general post in the Veterans Affairs Department, promising that the Obama administration is committed to strong oversight of every federal agency. | Military Times >>

Good — and damaged — brains: VA, DoD want both
If you have post-traumatic stress or a blast-related traumatic brain injury, two research institutes want your brains. Not now, of course — when you’re done using them. | Military Times >>

Afghanistan

A suicide car bombing near a U.S. military base in eastern Afghanistan that once hosted CIA employees killed at least 17 civilians Sunday, local officials said, the latest insurgent attack after foreign forces ended their combat mission there. | Associated Press >>

The leader of Islamic State in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been killed in a US drone strike in eastern Afghanistan, it was reported Saturday. Hafiz Saeed Khan, a former Pakistani Taliban commander, was killed with 30 other insurgents late Friday in Achin in the Nangarhar province, the BBC reported, citing Afghan intelligence officials. | New York Post >>

American Marines and Georgian soldiers waited outside the mud-brick compound about a mile north of Bagram Air Field as their interpreter and a Georgian master sergeant pressed a group of villagers about who may have been responsible for rocket attacks against the nearby NATO base. | Stars and Stripes >>

Iraq

Authorities in Iraq say bombings and a shooting have killed at least 11 people in and around the capital, Baghdad. Police officials say three roadside bombs went off simultaneously Saturday targeting an army convoy just southeast of Baghdad, killing four soldiers and wounding nine. | Associated Press >>

Iraq and the World Bank signed a $350 million loan agreement on Sunday to fund emergency reconstruction in towns recaptured from Islamic State militants, a deal Baghdad said marked the first international help to rebuild areas devastated by war. | Reuters >>

U.S.-led forces conducted 16 air strikes in Syria and 11 more in Iraq against Islamic State forces on Saturday, the Combined Joint Task Force leading the air operations said on Sunday. | Reuters >>

Military Affairs

The three remaining women attending Army Ranger School as part of an assessment of how female soldiers should be more fully integrated into the service have passed a major hurdle, completing the first of three segments in the course and moving on to its Mountain Phase. | Washington Post >>

The Army’s top general is drawing up plans to station up to a brigade’s worth of tanks and other heavy equipment in Germany as part of an expanding effort to beef up the military’s quick response capabilities in the region. | Stars and Stripes >>

Marine pilots recently dropped dozens of live bombs from the F-35B joint strike fighter for the first time, bringing the aircraft a step closer to its long-anticipated rollout. | Marine Corps Times >>

#VetsRising

Bill Kohler wears his patriotism on his sleeve. “I love my country, and everyone in it,” he said. So much so, he served our country in the army for 17 years. That includes two tours in Iraq, where he was injured by a roadside bomb. | ABC 27 WHTM >>

O’Rourke, a retired electrical supply warehouse owner from Jupiter, had heard correctly, and a new era of his life was about to begin. He is part of a select group of retired military members asked to become Elevated Warriors, a new certification for yoga-loving veterans sponsored by Connected Warriors, which offers free yoga to veterans in 14 states. | The South Florida Sun Sentinel >>

Early in the opera adaptation of “The Long Walk,” Brian Castner’s dark memoir of his tour as a bomb-disposal officer in Iraq and his struggles with anxiety and brain injury after returning home, the performance signals that it will build on the original account’s claustrophobic exploration of what its protagonist calls, with a convincing mix of detail and bluntness, his “Crazy.” | New York Times >>

Inside Washington

Federal lawmakers and families of victims of the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System in 2011 and 2012 say they have significant questions about a federal investigation that found few problems with the testing for Legionella bacteria in patients and water at the hospital. | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette >>

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) predicts the Senate will vote unanimously to confirm President Obama’s pick to be the nation’s next top military officer. On Thursday, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford sailed through his hours-long confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. | The Hill >>

Nearly a dozen employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs regional office in Philadelphia could face discipline over their errant handling of a backlog of benefit claims after a 10-month internal probe prompted by a whistleblower. | Washington Times >>

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