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IAVA Daily News Brief – June 15, 2015

The Coast Guard Cutter Eagle, foreground, sails in the Chesapeake Bay near Norfolk, Va. The Eagle's crew recently participated in the 39th annual Norfolk Harborfest. | Military Times >>

The Coast Guard Cutter Eagle, foreground, sails in the Chesapeake Bay near Norfolk, Va. The Eagle’s crew recently participated in the 39th annual Norfolk Harborfest. | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

A Veterans Advocate For The 21st Century
Miller is the new chief of policy for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, and being a Washington advocate for veterans isn’t the job it used to be. For most of the nation’s history, helping vets was mainly about ensuring that they received care for and support in managing their physical wounds. But with so many returning veterans now being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, groups such as IAVA are increasingly seeking to ensure that service members’ invisible wounds are addressed as well. | National Journal >>

Congress OKs stopgap bill to keep Denver VA hospital moving
Congress gave final approval Friday to another stopgap measure to avoid a work stoppage on the over-budget veterans medical center under construction outside Denver, but it is still struggling to come up with a longer-term agreement with the Obama administration to finish the facility. | Associated Press >>

Vets Groups ‘Encouraged’ by Pentagon’s Changes to 401(K)-Like Proposal
At least some veterans groups are encouraged by the Defense Department’s version of a 401(k)-like plan and other proposed changes to the military retirement system. The Pentagon on Wednesday released details of the proposal, which mirrors one of the most controversial recommendations earlier this year from the independent Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission. | Military.com >>

Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s police force took another severe blow from the Taliban on Saturday, as 17 police officers were killed in a clash with the insurgents in the southern province of Helmand, officials said. | New York Times >>

They call it the “mini-Pentagon” — a white marble building in the heart of Afghanistan’s capital built with U.S. funds to serve as the headquarters of a modern military more than a decade in the making. | Associated Press >>

Afghanistan is locked in a wrangle with the United Nations over control of a fund for police salaries, highlighting a quandary for aid donors keen to disengage from the country but reluctant to do so until sustainable, graft-free systems are in place. | Reuters >>

Iraq

As President Obama was weighing how to halt Islamic State advances in Iraq, some of the strongest resistance to boosting U.S. involvement came from a surprising place: a war-weary military that has grown increasingly skeptical that force can prevail in a conflict fueled by political and religious grievances. | Washington Post >>

U.S. and coalition forces conducted 12 air strikes targeting Islamic State in Iraq on Friday and three strikes against the militant group in Syria, mostly focusing on urban areas, the U.S. military said on Saturday. | Reuters >>

Tensions ran high in eastern Iraq on Friday between Kurdish and Shi’ite fighters, highlighting divisions hampering efforts by the U.S.-backed government to blunt the momentum of Islamic State militants. | Reuters >>

Military Affairs

Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona had a Navy ship named in her honor during a ceremony at a Mobile, Alabama, shipyard Saturday. Giffords joined Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, among others as the USS Gabrielle Giffords was christened in coastal Alabama. The 419-foot ship was built at the Austal shipyard and is the Navy’s 10th littoral combat ship designed to operate in shallow waters near the coast. | Fox News >>

For the companies lining up to build as many as 50,000 new vehicles to replace the Army’s Humvee — the ubiquitous symbol of America’s recent ground wars — the stakes are high. | Politico >>

A Russian fighter jet, flying at high speed, came within 10 feet of a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance aircraft in international airspace over the Black Sea late last month, several U.S. officials told CNN Thursday. | CNN >>

#VetsRising

Sometimes art is the only way to express one’s innermost thoughts. Because the Supportive Services for Veteran Families provides homeless veterans with donated art supplies, those service members have been able to put their memories to canvas, giving them a chance to heal. | Grand Forks Herald >>

When UFC officials needed a last-minute substitute to fight a Russian on a winning streak, they called a former Army sniper. | Army Times >>

Richard is a United States Marine Corps veteran. On Saturday, the former scout sniper completed his final mission: saying goodbye to his best friend Mark. “Mark was my spotter” said Richard. “He was my best friend. Wherever I went in the Marine Corps, he followed.” | Fox 6 Michigan >>

Inside Washington

Reversing a long-held position, the Department of Veterans Affairs now says Air Force reservists who became ill after being exposed to Agent Orange residue while working on planes after the Vietnam War should be eligible for disability benefits. | Associated Press >>

As part of a settlement over inflated interest rates, Sallie Mae is sending out nearly 80,000 checks, which were mailed Friday, worth $60 million, according to a statement from Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. Compensation will range from $10 to more than $100,000, with the average check being about $771. The size of the check depends on how long and by how much the interest rate exceeded 6 percent. | Military.com >>

The Department of Veterans Affairs is designing a new platform that can pull patient records from disparate hospital systems into one virtual place, potentially giving physicians a more complete look at a patient’s history. | NextGov >>

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