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IAVA Daily News Brief – July 21, 2015

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Airmen assigned to the 139th Airlift Wing return home following a deployment to Southwest Asia. The Airmen were deployed for 120 days supporting airlift missions to the region. | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

GUEST COLUMN: Trump’s vile comments on McCain an insult to all veterans
IAVA Founder and CEO, Paul Rieckhoff, writes an op-ed for the New York Daily News: “In the last couple of days, presidential hopeful Donald Trump has shown that there are still people who have never served, but still make ridiculous, insulting comments about veterans. Comments that should have been left behind long ago, in the dark days after Vietnam of blaming the warriors for the war. Trump’s asinine comments about Sen. John McCain’s service are an insult to everyone who has ever worn the uniform — and to all Americans.” | New York Daily News >>

Obama to hail VA progress in VFW speech as problems persist
President Obama is expected to highlight his administration’s progress on veterans’ issues Tuesday in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, but many veterans, lawmakers and whistleblowers say the Department of Veterans Affairs hasn’t improved since a scandal erupted last year over delayed health care for veterans. | Washington Times >>

New VA undersecretary vows change in Phoenix visit
During a visit to the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center on Friday, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ newly appointed undersecretary for health promised to improve care for patients and create a culture of integrity within a federal agency that serves 9 million former military personnel. | The Arizona Republic >>

Afghanistan

A U.S. airstrike in eastern Afghanistan killed at least seven Afghan soldiers, local officials said, an incident that threatens to strain relations between allies who are battling the Taliban and burgeoning Islamic State insurgencies. | Wall Street Journal >>

The U.S. military failed to stop construction on a $14.7 million warehouse facility in southern Afghanistan, despite delays in the project that made it clear it likely would barely be used by coalition forces, according to a new report by the top U.S. watchdog for Afghanistan reconstruction. | Washington Post >>

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani proposed establishing a regional hub in his country that could be used by the United States and other allies to battle the growing threat from Islamic State militants throughout the area, U.S. military officials said Sunday. | USA Today >>

Iraq

At least 10 civilians were killed by mortar and rocket fire on Monday in the central Iraqi village of Hudaid, north of Khan Bani Saad, where dozens of people were killed in a huge bombing last week, medics and a police sergeant said. | Reuters >>

The children each received a doll and a sword. Then they were lined up, more than 120 of them, and given their next lesson by their Islamic State group instructors: Behead the doll. | Associated Press >>

Just days after the Iraqi army regained control of the Ramadi Olympic Stadium, ISIS destroyed it via remotely detonated explosives. The Olympic stadium was the largest in the region and was supposed to include a soccer pitch, additional smaller fields, and track and field areas. | VICE News >>

Military Affairs

Army aviation officials at Joint Base Lewis-McChord want to create a North Cascades training area for helicopter pilots to practice flyovers and high-altitude landings on U.S. Forest Service lands. The high-elevation mountain training area would extend over an aerial space largely east of the Cascades from around Leavenworth up to the Canadian border. | Seattle Times >>

Burned out with sea duty after your first tour? Yep, there’s a track for that. Surface bosses announced the creation of five new career paths for surface warfare officers in a move to increase career flexibility and retain more black shoes. One track allows officers to get a graduate education and postpone their second division officer tour. | Navy Times >>

Lockheed Martin Corp Chief Executive Marillyn Hewson on Monday said the U.S. Marine Corps was “on track” to declare an initial squadron of F-35B fighter jets ready for combat this month after completing a review of the squadron last week. | Reuters >>

#VetsRising

A former Army officer has been running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain since 2007 — all while filming a documentary on the event which was released last month. Each year in July, Pamplona hosts a fiesta that brings together approximately one million people for a massive party, but most people know the city for just one reason: the crazy event that sees people running as bulls chase them from behind. | We Are The Mighty >>

Koffarnus, 30, and Heisz, 31, are hiking the 1,100-mile Ice Age Trail as part of the Warrior Hike program, a nonprofit that seeks to support veterans as they transition from military service back to life stateside. Sean Gobin, a 39-year-old U.S. Marines veteran, started the program, which involves hiking scenic trails, after returning home from three combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan and thru-hiking the 2,185-mile Appalachian Trail in 2012. | The Journal Sentinel >>

Rock n’ roll music blared while Mark Sierra cupped a small strawberry in his heavily tattooed hands as he carefully sliced the fruit until it resembled the petals of a rose. He nestled the fruit beside a mini chocolate mousse cake crafted from scratch. The 35-year-old military veteran said he began cooking after his grandmother went blind due to diabetes when he was 10 years old in La Joya, his hometown. | The Brownsville Herald >>

Inside Washington

A manager at a Veterans Affairs medical center in Georgia is on leave with pay following his indictment on 50 counts of ordering his staff to falsify medical records of veterans waiting for outside medical care. | Washington Post >>

Eight U.S. senators are demanding that the Department of Veterans Affairs launch an inquiry into revelations that GI Bill tuition subsidies have flowed to “educationally questionable, and in some instances morally repugnant, institutions that have inexplicably received VA education benefits.” | Center for Investigative Reporting >>

All the attention and funding that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has received from Congress and the American public hasn’t yet turned the VA into the organization that a growing number of U.S. veterans need. Last Monday, Deputy VA Secretary Sloan Gibson warned lawmakers that the department needs Congressional action this month to cover a $2.5-billion shortfall in its current-year budget. | Rapid City Journal >>

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