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IAVA Daily News Brief – July 7, 2015

Army Maj. Chris Dempsey throws out a ceremonial first pitch before the baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the San Francisco Giants at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. | Military Affairs >>

Army Maj. Chris Dempsey throws out a ceremonial first pitch before the baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the San Francisco Giants at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. | Military Affairs >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

Simple bill to help vets shows things in Congress aren’t so simple
A bill that would create a uniform identification card for U.S. military veterans is in the final stages of its journey from idea to law, and is being seen both as a nice benefit for America’s fighting men and woman and an illustration of just how hard it can be to get anything through Congress. | McClatchy DC >>

VA hospital that once treated Civil War veterans could close
Officials with the Department of Veterans Affairs have proposed shuttering the campus and relocating some of its services 60 miles north to Rapid City, the second largest city in the state, leaving only an outpatient clinic in Hot Springs, which the state calls “The Veterans Town.” | Associated Press >>

VA Starts brain bank to study effects of PTSD on vets
The Veterans Affairs Department and the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder have launched a program to track the progress of PTSD in veterans, says a July 2 VA statement. | Fierce Government >>

Afghanistan

The Republican senator from Arizona was in the Afghan capital on Sunday. Sen. McCain is calling for the U.S. to scale back plans to leave Afghanistan. | Washington Post >>

An official says a bomb blast at a police checkpoint in the southern city of Kandahar has killed two civilians, one policeman and wounded 13 others. | Associated Press >>

An appeal court in Kabul, Afghanistan reversed the death sentences of the killers of Farkhunda, a young woman who was murdered by a mob in plain daylight in downtown Kabul. The four defendants were, instead, given prison sentences ranging from 10 to 20 years. | Huffington Post >>

Iraq

An Islamic State militant blew up an explosive-laden bulldozer near Haditha, killing seven Iraqi soldiers in one of a wave of bomb attacks on the northwestern town on Monday, a police source said. | Reuters >>

An Iraqi Russian-made fighter jet accidentally dropped a bomb over a Baghdad neighborhood on Monday, killing at least 12 people on the ground, Iraqi officials said. | Associated Press >>

The U.S. military is defending Iraq’s slow approach to retaking Ramadi, a key Sunni city seized by the Islamic State six weeks ago, saying careful planning and coordination is needed to ensure a decisive win. | USA Today >>

Military Affairs

While the United States celebrated Independence Day, two pairs of Russian bombers flew off the coast of California and Alaska — forcing the Air Force to scramble fighter jets to intercept both flights, two senior defense officials tell Fox News. | Fox News >>

The Army continues to offer a special program for active-duty officers, warrant officers and enlisted soldiers who want to pursue personal or professional goals while taking a break of up to 36 months from their military careers. | Army Times >>

The American and Vietnamese war veterans, former enemies, sat together at wooden picnic tables eating hamburgers and chili while Creedence Clearwater Revival played in the background. Do Hung Luan, a former Vietcong fighter who was imprisoned and tortured for nine years by America’s South Vietnamese allies, ate a burger and chicken wings with chopsticks. | New York Times >>

#VetsRising

A heroic Iraq war veteran who lost both legs after a bomb turned his truck into a ball of flame is serving as an inspiration to others, teaching yoga in the city and across the country. | New York Post >>

Army veteran Nick Koulchan, wearing a red T-shirt reading “Always Adapt, Always Overcome,” came Sunday to Meyer Amphitheater from his home in Brighton, Mich., to lift weights, do push-ups and crawl under barriers to help his fellow veterans. | Palm Beach Post >>

STRIDE has programs that enable disabled veterans and their families to have a chance to bond with each other and learn a sport despite handicaps. McDonough’s adoptive “Momma,” Mary Ellen Whitney, chief executive officer of STRIDE of North Greenbush, helped him discover ways to keep his post-traumatic stress disorder at bay and deal with other disabilities such as traumatic brain injury, right arm and cervical spine damage and seizures. | The Times Union >>

Inside Washington

Congress returns from its Independence Day break with a pair of high-profile military hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee this week. On Thursday, the committee meets again for the confirmation hearing of Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey’s successor, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford. | Military Times >>

The head of the Pentagon’s new agency in charge of recovering and identifying remains of U.S. war dead said he will push for more partnering with private groups that have resources and interest to help reinvigorate a troubled POW-MIA accounting mission. | Military Times >>

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ new IT chief is now on the job. LaVerne Council, a former IT executive at Dell and pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, took the oath of office Monday to serve as VA’s assistant secretary for information and technology and the agency’s chief information officer, according to an agency release. | NextGov >>

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