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IAVA Daily News Brief – June 25, 2015

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Former Commandant of the Marine Corps James Amos and Sgt. Maj. Michael Mack gather with the Marine Corps team after they defeated Navy 57-24 for the gold medal in wheelchair basketball at the 2015 Warrior Games aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

VA Says Questionable Spending Was ‘Improper Accounting,’ Not Fraud
A senior Veterans Affairs Department official denied allegations on Tuesday that the agency committed fraud by making billions of dollars in purchases outside the federal rules or by making it appear to Congress like it was meeting its veteran-owned small business contracting mission. | Military.com >>

Marine’s overdose death sparking VA opiate debate
Nearly a year after his death, Marine Corps veteran Jason Simcakoski was at the center of a debate on Capitol Hill on Wednesday over new regulations for opioid prescriptions at the Department of Veterans Affairs. | Stars and Stripes >>

For-Profit Colleges’ 90/10 Loophole Latest Target For Democrats With Military And Veterans Education Protection Act
Three Democratic senators have introduced legislation that would close a loophole allowing for-profit colleges to take in increased amounts of federal money by collecting veterans’ tuition. Sens. Tom Carper of Delaware, Dick Durbin of Illinois and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut formally announced their Military and Veterans Education Protection Act on Wednesday. | International Business Times >>

Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s intelligence service on Wednesday said a Pakistani intelligence officer helped the Taliban carry out an attack on the parliament in Kabul earlier this week. | Associated Press >>

Will there be more and more months of horrific violence in Afghanistan, or will there be historic negotiations? This year has already seen some of the most important Taliban gains on the battlefield, and the most significant period of informal talks. | BBC News >>

The United States will continue to manage Afghan airspace and air-traffic control for another two-and-a-half months after its current contract expires at the end of June, according to an Afghan official. | Associated Press >>

Iraq

The 450 U.S. troops who are settling into their new outpost at Iraq’s Taqaddum Air Base are sharing the facility with some Shiite militiamen — but only a few. | Military Times >>

The United States and its coalition allies staged nine air strikes in Iraq and Syria in the latest round of daily attacks on Islamic State on Tuesday, a Command Joint Task Force statement said. | Reuters >>

A Kurdish militia leading an attack on Islamic State strongholds in Syria so far has no plan to extend the assault to the group’s de facto capital of Raqqa city, and such an advance should be led by Syrian rebels, a Kurdish leader said on Wednesday. | Reuters >>

Military Affairs

The soldiers set to fire the first U.S. tank rounds in Bulgaria aren’t wrapped up in the historical significance of the moment, set to unfold Thursday during a live-fire exercise before an audience that includes the country’s president and defense minister. First and foremost on their minds is making sure the tanks will fire and fire safely. | Stars and Stripes >>

After years of debate, the Marine Corps’ elite Special Operations force just made a major change, adopting the name of the combat-hardened Raider units that fought in the fierce Pacific island-hopping campaign of World War II. Marine officials marked the decision Friday with a brief ceremony at Camp Lejeune, N.C., 10 months after the decision was made. | Washington Post >>

The Army’s housing privatization program is in a “strategic pause,” pending announcements of specifics on troop cuts, the service’s chief of privatization initiatives said. After the announcement is made within the next few weeks of how the Army will trim another 40,000 soldiers, privatization officials will look at where troops will be stationed and do an overall assessment of housing requirements, said Ivan Bolden, chief of the Army Public-Private Initiatives Division in the office of the assistant chief of staff for installation management. | Military Times >>

#VetsRising

After losing both his legs in 2011 to an IED in Afghanistan, Toran Gaal is riding across America in a hand-powered cycle to raise money for what he calls a “superb organization.” Gaal defied all odds that he’d ever talk and walk again, and is riding more than 3,800 miles to raise money for the Semper Fi Fund, an organization that helped him and his family during his recovery. | The Hutchinson News >>

The 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games is a place where wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans from the Marine Corps, Army, Navy, Air Force Special Operations Command and British forces can come together and have a spirited and fun competition. For some, this competition will be their first. For others, it’s a return trip they hope to make several times in the future. But for Marine Corps veteran Kyle Reid, it will be his last Games. | Military.com >>

Disabled Veterans from across the United States are in North Texas this week for the 35th National Veteran Wheelchair Games. The annual event has been two years in the making for Dallas. It is a big deal for Dallas and an even bigger deal for the participants, giving new hope and purpose to those disabled during their time of service. | CBS DFW >>

Inside Washington

The Department of Veterans Affairs has a new leader of its troubled health care arm. Dr. David Shulkin, president of the Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey, won approval as the VA’s undersecretary for health by a voice vote Tuesday in the Senate. | Associated Press >>

The Department of Veterans Affairs responded Tuesday to an NPR story that the U.S. military exposed thousands of American troops to mustard gas in secret chemical weapons experiments during World War II. | NPR >>

The Department of Veterans Affairs is likely to face tough criticism Thursday when it breaks the news to Congress of its massive new financial crisis – $2.7 billion short on health care funding. The shortfall is drawing fire from some key lawmakers, who said they are surprised and frustrated by continued VA failures. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Congress has pumped billions in new funding into the department in just the past year and increased its budget every year for 14 years. | Stars and Stripes >>

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