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IAVA Daily News Brief – July 20, 2015

A paratrooper from the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division scans the skies while aboard a CH-47 Chinook at Fort Bragg, N.C. | Military Times >>

A paratrooper from the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division scans the skies while aboard a CH-47 Chinook at Fort Bragg, N.C. | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

From budget woes to report on patient deaths, VA missteps continue a year after scandal
The Department of Veterans Affairs faces a serious numbers problem — multiple in fact. It can’t count how many veterans died while waiting to sign up for health care. It says some VA hospitals may have to close if the agency can’t get $2.5 billion. And a year after scandal rocked the department, congressional Republicans want to know why the number of employees fired is so low. | Associated Press >>

VA says it will start closing hospitals in weeks if Congress doesn’t help plug its budget hole
Senior lawmakers traveled from Capitol Hill on Thursday to the Department of Veterans Affairs headquarters to hear firsthand why the agency is threatening to shut down some hospitals next month if Congress does not address a $2.5 billion shortfall. | Washington Post >>

Congressman Conducts His Own Survey To See How Veterans Feel About VA Health Care
Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) wanted to see for himself how veterans in his district are faring with health care they receive through the Department of Veterans Affairs, so he tried something different: He funded a survey himself. A year later, he did it again. | Huffington Post >>

Afghanistan

Two days before his presidential tenure ended last September, Hamid Karzai delivered farewell remarks to a group of foreign diplomats. With his trademark flair, he began by thanking them for helping Afghanistan, and by the end he was reciting lines from a Robert Frost poem. | Washington Post >>

The emergence of militants in Afghanistan claiming allegiance to Islamic State could disrupt White House plans to remove the remaining U.S. troops in that country by the end of next year. | LA Times >>

Summers in Afghanistan are always turbulent as the Taliban return from safehavens in Pakistan after the mountain passes thaw. However, this year has been particularly violent as government forces and the insurgents compete for the upper hand in the first fighting season since the withdrawal of most foreign troops from the country. | The National >>

Iraq

A U.S.-backed military offensive against Islamic State fighters faltered in its first week as several hundred militants entrenched in the provincial capital of Ramadi withstood punishing airstrikes and held off a far-larger force of Iraqi ground troops, senior U.S. and coalition commanders said Saturday. | LA Times >>

An Iraqi military operation to retake the key Sunni city of Ramadi from Islamic State militants is gaining momentum, the top U.S. military officer said Saturday. | USA Today >>

The White House said on Saturday that it condemned an Islamic State attack on Friday that killed more than 100 people at a market in an Iraqi town, calling it “yet another painful examples of the atrocities” committed by the group. | Reuters >>

Military Affairs

The U.S. Navy’s newest combat ship, the USS Little Rock, slid into the waters of Marinette Marine Shipyard in Wisconsin on Saturday morning. | CNN >>

For 70 years, World War II planes have been resting in peace at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Although divers have enjoyed exploring the underwater graveyard since the 1960s, Brandi Mueller’s photos allow us to admire these treasures without a wetsuit. | Mashable >>

A 24-year-old Kuwaiti-born gunman opened fire on a military recruiting station on Thursday, then raced to a second military site where he killed four United States Marines, prompting a federal domestic terrorism investigation. Three other people, including a Marine Corps recruiter and a police officer, were wounded, according to law enforcement officials. | New York Times >>

#VetsRising

Since then, Holton has started a non-profit organization called Operation Give. He and his volunteer staff have shipped 150 ocean container loads of supplies to Iraq, Afghanistan and other places in need. Now he says there is real need in Iraq for those who are fleeing from ISIS, as it continues to gain control of more territory. | KUER 90.1 >>

On Friday — opening day of the three-day campout at San Diego High School — Vaccaro was working the stage with a microphone and handheld radio, directing tent-units of veterans to showers and meals. It was a bit like running operations as a sergeant in Iraq, where Vaccaro served three tours with a New York-based reserve unit and suffered a traumatic brain injury from several roadside bomb blasts. | The San Diego Union-Tribune >>

When a tentative veteran showed up for a day of kayaking last year with Adaptive Adventures, director and founder of the organization Joel Berman didn’t notice anything unusual about him. It wasn’t until the day was over that Berman learned from the veteran’s wife that the Chicago kayaking trip was the first thing that had drawn the vet out of his apartment for two years. | Wisconsin Rapids Tribune >>

Inside Washington

In September 2008, Donald Trump donated $28,450 to John McCain’s Victory Committee and endorsed him on Larry King Live. “I know him. I like him. I respect him,” he said. “He’s a smart guy and I think he’s going to be a great president.” Seven years later, Trump is the one running, and he now respects McCain, who spent five years as a prisoner during the Vietnam War, so little that he says he’s not really a war hero. | The Daily Beast >>

A supervisor at the Charlie Nor­wood Veterans Affairs Me­di­­cal Center in Augusta has been named in a 50-count indictment alleging he ordered staff to falsify medical records of veterans in need of outside care. | The Augusta Chronicle >>

Five decades after the Vietnam War began—and four decades after it ended— veterans exposed to the chemical brew dubbed Agent Orange are still fighting for compensation and benefits for themselves and their children. And it turns out, not all veterans exposed to Agent Orange are being treated the same. The fight is playing out in the halls of Congress, in courtrooms and at veterans meetings across the country. | The Virginian-Pilot >>

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