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IAVA Daily News Brief – June 24, 2015

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Army Capt. Emily Corbin, a native of Boulder Junction, Wis., and veterinarian assigned to Public Health Command District, Fort Meade, Md., examines a goat at a local farm during a veterinary subject matter expert exchange in support of Continuing Promise 2015. | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

VA faces criticism over wait times, purchase cards
It’s been a bad couple of weeks for the Department of Veterans Affairs. The department is facing a nearly $3 billion budget shortfall. VA officials are expected to testify in front of Congress on Thursday and will make the case that more money is needed to solve the problem. | Minneapolis Star Tribune >>

One year after VA scandal, the number of veterans waiting for care is up 50 percent
One year after an explosive Veterans Affairs scandal sparked national outrage, the number of veterans on wait lists to be treated for everything from Hepatitis C to post-traumatic stress is 50 percent higher than at the same time last year, according to VA data. | Washington Post >>

Congress to Examine Fraud in VA’s Vet-owned Small Business Goals
Lawmakers on Tuesday will hear allegations of manipulation and fraud by Veterans Affairs Department employees into the agency’s goals for serving veteran-owned and service disabled-owned small businesses. | Military.com >>

Afghanistan

A soldier was lauded as Afghanistan’s newest national hero Tuesday after claiming to shoot dead all six gunmen involved in an attack targeting the parliament building. Lance Corporal Esa Khan, 28, was on perimeter duty when a car bomb exploded at the gates of the Kabul site as lawmakers convened to appoint a new defense minister. | NBC News >>

As the result of a three-year partnership, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Afghan Government today launched the first-ever interactive online system for all counter-narcotics-related data in the country. | UN News Centre >>

The Afghan military said Tuesday it was carrying out mopping-up operations after recapturing a strategically important district center lost to Taliban insurgents over the weekend. | Stars and Stripes >>

Iraq

NATO is expected to announce soon a plan to advise the Iraqi government on reforming its security forces which are fighting back after collapsing in the face of an offensive by Islamic State fighters, NATO diplomats said on Tuesday. | Reuters >>

The United Nations says the number of displaced within Iraq due to Islamic State group violence and fighting has exceeded 3 million — a grim milestone for the war-battered country. | Associated Press >>

The issues were sharply laid out last Wednesday at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on U.S. policy and strategy in the Middle East when several Republican and Democratic members with military service backgrounds critically questioned Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey about the Obama administration’s approach. | Washington Post >>

Military Affairs

“Star Wars”-style hoverbikes could become part of America’s high-tech arsenal, as the U.S. Army Research Laboratory looks to harness the unusual technology for military use. U.K.-based hoverbike specialist Malloy Aeronautics has joined forces with Belcamp, Md.-based SURVICE Engineering to develop the science-fiction-style vehicles for the Department of Defense. | Fox News >>

Alaska Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and aircrews, from the 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment, or 1-207th AVN, continue to conduct water bucket drops in support of recent wildfire suppression efforts in Alaska. | Military.com >>

The U.S. expects further encounters at sea with China’s navy, according to the captain of a U.S. coastal combat ship that has patrolled the disputed South China Sea and met a Chinese ship last month. | Bloomberg >>

#VetsRising

An Iraq War veteran is trekking across the country and handing out hugs to total strangers. Ian Cooke’s mission brought him to the Roudebush VA Medical Center on 10th Street in Indianapolis on Monday. | RTV 6 ABC >>

“Max,” directed and co-written by Boaz Yakin, is the story of a military working dog whose Marine handler, Kyle (Robbie Amell), is killed in Afghanistan. The traumatized animal is then adopted by the Marine’s family and mostly cared for by his reluctant younger brother, Justin (Josh Wiggins). | Los Angeles Daily News >>

It can often be a struggle for veterans returning home to find jobs, especially if they’ve been injured during their service. One local veteran knows that journey first hand and he’s started a business to help his fellow heroes. Jason Kokotkiewitz received a Purple Heart after suffering a traumatic brain injury while serving in Iraq in 2007. Years later he’s celebrating a new business, looking to hire veterans. | WTHI-TV 10 >>

Inside Washington

The Department of Veterans Affairs has named a new director for its health care system in western South Dakota. The VA says Sandra Horsman is expected to start leading the VA Black Hills Health Care System next month. Horsman will replace Jo-Ann Ginsberg, who became acting director in March. | Associated Press >>

In secret chemical weapons experiments conducted during World War II, the U.S. military exposed thousands of American troops to mustard gas. When those experiments were formally declassified in the 1990s, the Department of Veterans Affairs made two promises: to locate about 4,000 men who were used in the most extreme tests, and to compensate those who had permanent injuries. But the VA didn’t uphold those promises, an NPR investigation has found. | NPR >>

Retired Navy veteran Sheila Tuttle calls it a life saver. Mari Skinner, a third generation Navy veteran, says its quality of care coupled with cutting-edge equipment is unmatched at any Veterans Affairs facility where she’s been treated. And, Dr. Charu D. Gupta, medical director of women’s health for the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System, describes the 10,000-square-foot Women’s Health Center on the third floor of the VA Medical Center in North Las Vegas as the best she’s worked in of more than a dozen medical facilities. | Las Vegas Review-Journal >>

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