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IAVA Daily News Brief – July 6, 2015

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Sailors spell out #USA with the American flag Sunday on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in honor of the nation’s upcoming Independence Day weekend. | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

Inspectors: Private care for vets plagued by delays, cost overruns
Inspectors for the Department of Veterans Affairs say a community-referral program designed to make private medical treatment available for veterans is plagued by delays in care, improper patient scheduling practices, cost overruns and other problems. | The Arizona Republic >>

VA whistleblower asks Obama to hire inspector general from outside
A former Department of Veterans Affairs employee, who blew the whistle on rampant overmedication at one of the agency’s Wisconsin hospitals, got the chance to meet President Barack Obama today as the president descended from Air Force One and walked across the tarmac in La Crosse. | Center for Investigative Reporting >>

Veterans Hotline Tries to Survive Without Pentagon Funds
Though the program has been lauded as a model, the Pentagon has ended its funding as part of an effort to cut costs and streamline services. Vets4Warriors has moved to find other funding so that it can continue on its own. In late June, weeks before the call center was set to lay off its 40 veteran peers, the New Jersey Legislature voted to spend $2.5 million so the program could operate another year, giving it time to find private funding. | New York Times >>

Afghanistan

Afghan security forces battling the Taliban about 30 miles west of Kabul have sustained heavy casualties, officials said Saturday, as senior members of the government criticized the response to the assault as slow and ineffective. | New York Times >>

A U.S. judge has awarded $134.2 million to an American soldier injured in Afghanistan and the widow of another soldier killed there in a lawsuit filed against a Canadian man who pleaded guilty in a grenade attack involving the two soldiers when he was 15. | Associated Press >>

At least 30 ALP members were killed in the fighting last week as Taliban insurgents launched a coordinated attack on a series of ALP checkpoints in Jalrez district, which lies on a strategically important highway about one hour west of Kabul. | LA Times >>

Iraq

Islamic State militants indulged in new public displays of artifact destruction this week, sledgehammering a half-dozen statues said to have been stolen from the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra. The militants also broke up a hidden 2,000-year-old lion statue they discovered in a Palmyra museum garden and demolished a 13th-century tomb near the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk. | New York Times >>

Islamic State suicide bombers and fighters attacked the center of Iraq’s northern oil refinery town of Baiji overnight, forcing the army and Shi’ite fighters to pull back, military sources and the local mayor said on Sunday. | Reuters >>

Authorities in Iraq say bombings targeting Shiite districts have killed 15 people in and around Baghdad. Police officials say a bomb exploded Sunday night near a cafe in the Shiite district of al-Obeidi on the eastern edge of Baghdad, killing four people and wounding 14 others. | Associated Press >>

Military Affairs

Women in the Navy and Marine Corps hoping to raise families while advancing their careers are about to get a big boost. Starting immediately, paid maternity leave is tripled to 18 weeks for moms, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced Thursday. | Navy Times >>

There were a few famous dogs, mascots like Rin Tin Tin and the less famous but nonetheless highly celebrated Stubby, who joined soldiers of the 102nd Infantry on the front lines in France during World War I. But it wasn’t until the last decade or so that the stories of canine warriors and the history of the U.S. war dog program was pieced together. | Washington Post >>

This summer is the fourth that U.S. troops and civilians have combed Colony Glacier in Alaska to recover wreckage and identify 52 service members aboard a C-124 Globemaster II that crashed in 1952. | Military Times >>

#VetsRising

An Indiana man and Iraq combat veteran has turned his yard into a sea of American flags, to remember those lost in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. With the help of volunteers, Frank Medlen Jr. has placed over 6,800 flags on his property. | Palm Beach Post >>

Emotion and patriotism will be in plentiful supply during Sunday’s Women’s World Cup final, but for Christy Gardner the playing of the Star Spangled Banner will resonate more than most. | USA Today >>

A U.S. Army veteran has brought his dog with him on a walk across the nation. Along the way, he’s buying meals for homeless vets. He’s also reminding folks about the sacrifices of troops who’ve lost their limbs and speaking out about the challenges vets face in getting jobs and medical care. | Fox 2 Now >>

Inside Washington

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)announced a new nationwide initiative designed to build upon its existing partnerships to grow the number of individuals and organizations serving Veterans in their communities. | The Daily Herald >>

Perched atop a bluff in the remote Black Hills, a veterans hospital built of thick blocks of pink sandstone and topped with red-tiled roofs in a Spanish mission style overlooks the tiny town of Hot Springs, South Dakota, and has provided recovering soldiers a bucolic haven for more than a century. | Associated Press >>

Sen. Tom Carper addressed a crowd of about 200 Amtrak workers donning hard-hats at a ceremony today to unveil an old glory-colored locomotive with the words, “Amtrak’s railroad salutes our veterans.” At Amtrak’s maintenance facility in Wilmington, Delaware’s senior senator led the crowd in a chant to support the roughly 50 workers in attendance who are also military veterans. | Associated Press >>

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