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IAVA Daily News Brief – June 16, 2015

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Marines and sailors carry fellow service members using a technique called the fireman’s carry during the commanding general’s run on Onslow Beach, N.C. The Marines are assigned to the 2nd Marine Logistics Group. | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

VA Cited for Neglecting Follow-Up Treatment for Depressed Vets
The embattled Veterans Affairs Department is once again under scrutiny for potentially violating agency guidelines when treating patients—this time, failing to ensure that veterans with depression are receiving sufficient follow-up care after being prescribed anti-depressant medication. | The Fiscal Times >>

Veterans Journal: Program reduces stigma of seeking mental health care
The Department of Veterans Affairs provides “Make the Connection,” a national awareness program aimed at reducing the negative perceptions and stigma associated with seeking mental health care to help veterans, their family, friends and caregivers. | The Providence Journal >>

VA to offer aid to Agent Orange C-123 reservists
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 >>

Afghanistan

The combat mission in Afghanistan may technically be over, but the Air Force still flies missions every day in support of the roughly 9,800 U.S. troops who remain in the country. | Military Times >>

The world’s largest standing Buddhas, the Buddhas of Bamiyan, have stood tall and proud in central Afghanistan’s Bamiyan Valley since the sixth century. Until March 2001, that is, when Taliban militants toppled both statues with artillery rounds and explosives in a crusade to destroy non-Islamic art in Afghanistan. | Newsweek >>

The Taliban rejected an appeal by Afghan clerics on Sunday to stop attacks during the month of Ramadan, which begins in three days. Yesterday, religious clerics backed by the Afghan government called for the Taliban to cease all attacks “out of respect for Ramazan [Ramadan]”. | Newsweek >>

Iraq

Seventeen people were killed in Iraq on Monday in clashes between Islamic State militants and pro-government forces in a town close to the country’s biggest refinery, a focal point in efforts to counter the ultra-hardline Sunni group. | Reuters >>

The 10-month-old fight against the Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria has cost the Pentagon at least $2.74 billion, according to newly released Defense Department data. | Military Times >>

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates says President Obama should expand the rules of engagement for U.S. troops assisting Iraqi military forces so that they can play a larger role in the fight against Islamic militants. | The Hill >>

Military Affairs

In a significant move to deter possible Russian aggression in Europe, the Pentagon is poised to store battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and other heavy weapons for as many as 5,000 American troops in several Baltic and Eastern European countries, American and allied officials say. | New York Times >>

The extra space aboard European ships is just one added amenity Marines will notice when they begin operating on NATO ships this fall as part of the Allied Maritime Basing Initiative. The goal is to get Marines with land-based crisis response units back to sea to improve response times. | Marine Corps Times >>

Staff Sgt. King works in the headquarters of Fort Carson’s 4th Infantry Division. A three-tour veteran of Afghanistan combat, King is fighting a different battle now. She’s becoming the person she’s felt destined to be since the age of 13. “I’m the first openly transgender infantryman in the Army,” King said. | Colorado Springs Gazette >>

#VetsRising

Sailing saved Ronnie Simpson’s life. He was an 18 year old high school senior in Atlanta, Georgia when the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq began in March 2003. Drawn to service by the events of September 11, Ronnie joined the Marine Corps Infantry the day after the war started. Less than a year later in March 2004, he deployed to Iraq with the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines. | We Are The Mighty >>

Dillon, a golden retriever puppy, is going through hours of training, learning commands that will help him become a lifelong companion for a veteran with disabilities. Dillon is part of the Puppy Jake Foundation, a non-profit group that trains puppies to become service dogs and matches them with veterans in need of the animals. | KCRG 9 ACB >>

We are talking because Iraq is in the news again, and everyone is struggling to care: Those of us who have watched on television, supported, protested, voted, or cried, along with many of the soldiers who sacrificed their empathy — and much more in some cases — for this shapeless campaign. | New York Daily News >>

Inside Washington

Now that the four congressional committees charged with overseeing military spending have publicly offered their plans for fiscal 2016, troops and military retirees have a clearer picture of the potential impacts on their pay and benefits next year. | Marine Corps Times >>

A VA spokeswoman chided U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman on Monday for statements the Aurora Republican made recently in which he imagined the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs running the terrorist group ISIS. | The Denver Post >>

Whistleblowers who put a spotlight on problems at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities that resulted in a nationwide scandal last year vow to keep up the pressure on the agency to improve care for veterans. | Fierce Healthcare >>

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