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IAVA Daily News Brief – July 15, 2015

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An F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the Kestrels of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 137 launches at sunset from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). Ronald Reagan is underway off the coast of Southern California. | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

Veterans May Lose Hospitals
The Department of Veterans Affairs may have to shut down some hospitals next month if Congress does not address a $2.5 billion shortfall for the current budget year, VA officials warned Monday. The VA told Congress that it needs to cover shortfalls caused by an increased demand by veterans for health care, including costly treatments for hepatitis C. The agency also is considering furloughs, hiring freezes and other steps to close a funding gap for the budget year that ends Sept. 30. | Associated Press >>

Leaked Document: Nearly One-Third Of 847,000 Veterans In Backlog For VA Health Care Already Died
More than 238,000 of the 847,000 veterans in the pending backlog for health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs have already died, according to an internal VA document provided to The Huffington Post. | Huffington Post >>

VA, caregivers, sex trauma: A quiet storm is brewing
The concept that a service member or veteran could suffer from post-traumatic stress or a brain injury due to military sexual trauma (also referred to as military sexual assault) is virtually non-existent. When a man or woman is sexually traumatized by an individual or group within the military, the scars and aftermath can be just as devastating as being wounded in battle. | Washington Times >>

Afghanistan

On Sunday night, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani hailed last week’s peace talks with Taliban officials as a major achievement since the fall of the hardline Islamist regime nearly 14 years ago. That remains to be seen. But one thing is clear: the violence is far from over. | Washington Post >>

The United Nations on Tuesday condemned a spate of violence at the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting, that killed or injured more than 100 civilians in Afghanistan over two days. | LA Times >>

Afghan security forces have killed the top Taliban leader in eastern Afghanistan’s Laghman province, the insurgent group’s sixth shadow governor to die in recent months, intelligence officials said Tuesday. | Stars and Stripes >>

Iraq

The huge benefits a defendant can get for cooperating with the government and pleading guilty were starkly evident Monday as federal prosecutors asked for a two-and-a-half year sentence for a former Blackwater guard who took part in a 2007 massacre in Iraq that led to four of his former colleagues receiving prison terms ranging from 30 years to life. | Politico >>

The U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State in Syria needs to adjust its tactics in recruiting opponents of the group, the president’s envoy to the coalition said Tuesday. The coalition needs to actively control and fight back against the group’s message online in a fight that could last “up to a generation,” retired Marine Corps Gen. John Allen said at a Center for American Progress event in Washington, D.C. | Air Force Times >>

Thirty-four people, mostly women and children, who escaped from the clutches of Islamic State thugs in Iraq are seen making their way to freedom in a new documentary. | New York Post >>

Military Affairs

Europe and Asia will not be entirely spared from the Army downsizing announced last week. Just over 2,200 overseas positions will be among the 40,000 cut from the Army by the end of 2018, with 1,699 coming from Europe, 533 from South Korea and 71 from Japan, Army spokesman Lt. Col. Joe Buccino said. | Stars and Stripes >>

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. has been forced to delay the first flight of its largest helicopter until later this year while it completes testing fixes to its gearbox and other problems, the U.S. Navy said Tuesday. | Wall Street Journal >>

The U.S. is considering a plan to expand its military training of Ukrainian forces to include army soldiers, the commander of the U.S. Army in Europe said on Monday, describing a potential move that risks heightening tensions with Russia. | Associated Press >>

#VetsRising

Last August, necn introduced you to Justin Fitch, a U.S. Army Major who served two tours of duty in Iraq and was the commander of the Human Resources and Development detachment at the Natick Labs. After suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts himself, Fitch made it his mission to make people aware of the invisible injuries veterans suffer and help those fighting the battle to live every day. | NECN >>

Ian Michael knows the anxiety and isolation faced by combat veterans returning from and even years after war – because he’s faced it himself. The 34-year-old former Marine served in the Iraq war in 2003 and has struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder ever since. Now, he’s using his own experience with isolation, anxiety and depression to help other veterans cope with theirs – all through the healing power of a simple hug. | People Magazine >>

For some of those veterans, salvation comes with four paws and a wet nose. “I was done. I was ready to leave this body and this pain,” says Roger Lintz, a now-retired Infantry and Special Operations officer who suffered a back injury while on combat duty in Iraq. Two botched surgeries to repair the damage left him severely disabled and in excruciating pain. “I had it all planned out. I knew how I was going to end it.” | Times Herald-Record >>

Inside Washington

To help low-income families and veterans participate in the FreshConnect Checks Program, which increases the purchasing power of food stamps used at participating farmers markets, state officials have $350,000 allocated across New York. The program has also been extended to operate year-round at participating farmers’ markets, providing the opportunity to use checks 12 months a year. | Nyack-Piermont Patch >>

Outgoing Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey showed last week how much his understanding of the Middle East will be missed when he steps down. In a blunt assessment given the Senate Armed Services Committee last Tuesday, Dempsey — who since 1991 has spent a good part of his career in the region — outlined the dilemma facing the Obama administration. | Washington Post >>

A social worker at a Louisiana Veterans Affairs hospital is no longer under criminal investigation by his employer for accessing a secret list that he used as proof to show that 2,700 vets languished — including 37 who died — awaiting care. | Fox News >>

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