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IAVA Daily News Brief – July 22, 2015

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Soldiers with C Company, 1st Squadron, 158th Cavalry Regiment, Maryland Army National Guard, conducted their unit’s last jump. | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

Veterans’ Groups Take Their Shots at Donald Trump as He Backs Off a Bit on McCain
Mr. Trump did soften his words somewhat late on Monday when he told Bill O’Reilly of Fox News that he has respect for Mr. McCain and said, “Certainly if there was a misunderstanding, I would totally take that back.” But veterans’ groups said Mr. Trump was in no position to criticize anyone, and denied that he is the longtime ally he claims to be. | New York Times >>

Obama asks Congress to urgently approve Veterans Affairs request
President Barack Obama on Tuesday said he is not yet satisfied that hospitals providing care to veterans have made enough improvements after a scandal last year forced reforms, and urged Congress to help with funding for the Veterans Affairs department. | Reuters >>

Whistleblower: 34,000 combat veterans still waiting for VA benefits
A whistleblower has accused the Department of Veterans Affairs of intentionally violating its own policy toward combat veterans to keep thousands of applicants from receiving their healthcare benefits. Scott Davis, a program specialist at the VA enrollment center in Atlanta, said some veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan lost their eligibility for healthcare after the VA sat on their applications until they expired. | Washington Examiner >>

Afghanistan

The lead U.S. commander in Afghanistan said the growing threat of ISIS could delay the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and Army Gen. John Campbell met Sunday in Kabul with President Ashraf Ghani to discuss the ISIS threat as well as the future manning levels of coalition forces in Afghanistan. | Military.com >>

At least seven Afghan National Army soldiers were killed and five others wounded in a friendly-fire incident involving U.S. forces in Logar Province on Monday, according to a U.S. Forces Afghanistan news release. | Army Times >>

Earlier this year, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani persuaded U.S. President Barack Obama to slow the pace of a planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from his country by citing the need to prevent a resurgence of the Taliban. But Ghani is now offering a new rationale for keeping American forces in Afghanistan, suggesting that the Islamic State — which has begun to make its presence felt with bombings mainly in the country’s east — poses a potential threat that must be confronted before it spreads. | Foreign Policy >>

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 >>

Iraq has long wanted U.S. F-16s to help it battle Islamic State militants. But, the ongoing fighting with Islamic State delayed the delivery of the planes. At this ceremony at Balad Air Base, Iraq finally took delivery of four of the 36 jets it ordered. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the F-16s would help Iraq defeat Islamic State. | Reuters >>

Researchers are embarking on an ambitious project to bring part of Iraq’s destroyed heritage back to life. Over the past few years the world has watched as ISIS (also known as the Islamic State) has destroyed historical monuments and committed acts of genocide in Iraq and Syria. | CBS News >>

Military Affairs

Gen. Mark Milley, President Obama’s nominee for Army chief of staff, said Tuesday that he endorses arming troops at home under certain circumstances. “I think, under certain conditions, both on military and in out-stations, recruiting stations, service centers, that we should seriously consider it, and in some cases I think it’s appropriate,” he said at his confirmation hearing. | The Hill >>

More than 115 aircraft from 17 units are taking part in Red Flag 15-3 at Nellis Air Force Base. Aircraft are flying for more than five hours per day for realistic red-on-blue attacker-defender training until the end of the month. The exercise takes part over the Nevada Test and Training Range, an area with more than 15,000 square miles of airspace, 1,900 possible targets and systems meant to replicate threatened airspace. | Air Force Times >>

In a first for the U.S. Navy, a submarine has launched and recovered an underwater drone used in a military operation. The attack submarine USS North Dakota returned to its base in Groton on Monday following a nearly two-month deployment to the Mediterranean Sea specifically to test the drone-launching capability. | Associated Press >>

#VetsRising

When Paul Poulos returned from his last tour in Iraq in 2008, he struggled to adjust to civilian life. “It was damaging,” the Boardman police officer and Army veteran said of his time in combat, which included six months of daily fighting in the city of Ramadi. One thing that helped him make that transition, he says, is the bond he built with a canine friend. | The Vindicator >>

When Montalvan, a 17-year veteran of the U.S. Army, returned from his multiple combat tours in Iraq, the stress of daily life due to his wounds — both physical and emotional — began to take their toll on him. Then he met Tuesday, a beautiful, smart and sensitive golden retriever who had been trained to assist the disabled. Tuesday could open doors, turn on lights and sense anxiety in humans. | Lewiston Sun Journal >>

At night the Iraqi men come again for Jessica Lynch. They chase her through the woods. The crunching of the earth beneath their boots drowns out her pounding breath. She turns but can’t see their faces. Before they grab her, she wakes up. | CNN >>

Inside Washington

[Video] The flags atop the White House and United States Capitol have been lowered to half-mast to honor the victims of the Chattanooga shootings. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer reports. | CNN >>

Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald told the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention here on Tuesday that veterans are being hurt by an ideology in Washington that demands huge VA budget cuts and a system that will keep the best qualified people from joining the department. | Military.com >>

President Barack Obama on Monday signed a bill from U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan that will allow veterans nationwide to get a special, government-issued identification card. | McClatchy DC >>

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