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IAVA Daily News Brief – June 17, 2015

An MH-60S Seahawk helicopter lifts pallets of supplies from the flight deck of the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Walter S. Diehl during a vertical replenishment with the amphibious assault ship USS Essex in the South China Sea. | Military Times >>

An MH-60S Seahawk helicopter lifts pallets of supplies from the flight deck of the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Walter S. Diehl during a vertical replenishment with the amphibious assault ship USS Essex in the South China Sea. | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

Employees of Beleaguered VA Office Vent to Visiting Lawmakers
Two months after testifying to Congress for a third time about the Department of Veterans Affairs Philadelphia regional office, this time about a “revolving door of taxpayer waste,” culture of retaliation and improper behavior — like two managers asking workers to pay one’s wife to contact the dead — whistleblower Kristen Ruell said little had changed. | Stars and Stripes >>

Senator to VA: End mindless narcotics prescriptions now
Smarting from reports that she failed to follow up on problems at the Tomah VA, as well as an investigation published in January by the Center for Investigative Reporting that said the facility was known as “Candy Land” among veterans for its painkiller dispensing habits, [Sen. Tammy] Baldwin will introduce legislation to strengthen VA’s oversight of opiate drug prescriptions and pain management programs. | Military Times >>

Gary Sinise: Fix the disconnect between Americans and their military
There’s a growing “disconnect” between Americans and their military, which will require increased support and public awareness to solve, actor and military advocate Gary Sinise said Tuesday. Sinise, the Emmy award-winning actor from “CSI:NY” who also starred in “Forrest Gump” and “Apollo 13,” said studies show that more than 50 percent of veterans feel disconnected from the average citizen. | Washington Examiner >>

Afghanistan

The Afghan Taliban on Tuesday warned ISIS militants to stay out of Afghanistan in a rare open letter to the extremists that have conquered swathes of the Middle East. | NBC News >>

Hamid Karzai, the former president of Afghanistan, wants to set a few things straight. First, he is not considering a run for his old job in 2019. “No, no, sir, not at all,” he said in a rare interview with The New York Times on Sunday, the first he has given the newspaper’s Kabul bureau in seven years. | New York Times >>

A memorial service will be held Wednesday morning for an Alabama woman who was killed at an airbase in Afghanistan. Krissie Kissic Davis, of Talladega, was killed June 8 during an indirect fire attack on Bagram Airbase. Davis, who was serving her second deployment, worked as a property disposal specialist with the Defense Logistics Agency in Anniston. | AL.com >>

Iraq

Senators said Monday prohibiting American boots on the ground in the fight against the Islamic State should be part of this year’s debate on the defense policy bill. | Washington Times >>

For more than a year, the Syrian town of Tal Abyad on the Turkish border provided a lifeline for the Islamic State group, allowing it to ferry foreign fighters to its self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa and sell oil on the black market. | Associated Press >>

In northern Syria, the jihadists of the Islamic State have fixed power lines, dug sewage systems and painted sidewalks. In Raqqa, they search markets and slaughterhouses for expired food and sick animals. Farther south, in Deir al-Zour, they have imposed taxes on farmers and shopkeepers and fined men for wearing short beards. | New York Times >>

Military Affairs

A Sikh college student from New York said Monday he is excited about a federal court decision that will permit him to enroll in the U.S. Army’s Reserve Officer Training Corps without shaving his beard, cutting his hair, or removing his turban. | New York Daily News >>

A combination of personnel cuts has drawn the Regular Army to within about 2,000 soldiers of its endstrength objective of 490,000 officers and enlisted members for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. | Army Times >>

The newest vessel in the Corps’ amphibious arsenal carries the name of its most iconic Marine — and it is ready for action. The first Afloat Forward Staging Base — the Lewis B. Puller — was delivered to the Navy in San Diego on June 12. | Navy Times >>

#VetsRising

Next month, as Hollywood and professional athletes gather in Los Angeles to celebrate the year in sports, U.S. Army Veteran and VA employee Danielle Green will be honored at the 2015 ESPYS with the Pat Tillman Award for Service. | We Are The Mighty >>

More than 250 injured or disabled troops and veterans are arriving at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, this week for the sixth annual Warrior Games, a 10-day sports competition that pits the nation’s best Paralympic-style military athletes against each other. | Military Times >>

There are now about 180 veterans offering a lifeline on the “22 Too Many” Instagram page and they’ve already helped more 400 veterans who were contemplating suicide. When professional help is needed, they contact a network of psychologists — which includes Dr. Carrie Elk. “Veterans take care of veterans in the community and then they call me if they need mental health help,” explained Dr. Elk. “It’s a team effort and both are needed.” | WCTV >>

Inside Washington

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is investigating the potential abuse of charge cards at a VA hospital in the Bronx. Lawmakers are asking to see records of $50 million worth of purchases made by a supervisor at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center. The VA says records of those purchases were destroyed by Sandy. | WNYC >>

Democratic and Republican lawmakers can hardly agree on anything that nothing ever gets done in Washington. Last Thursday, however, members of Congress from both Houses announced the introduction of a bill to award the Congressional Gold Medal to 260,000 Filipino and Filipino-American soldiers who responded to President Roosevelt’s call-to-duty and fought under the American flag in World War II. | Huffington Post >>

The Department of Veterans Affairs took umbrage Tuesday at a GOP congressman’s joke that the agency is so incompetent it should take over the Islamic State to help run it into the ground. “Chairman [Mike] Coffman’s comments do not belong in our public discourse,” said VA spokeswoman Victoria Dillon in a statement to The Huffington Post. “Veterans and VA employees find them highly offensive.” | Huffington Post >>

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