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IAVA Daily News Brief – June 29, 2015

Sgt. Jesse De La Cruz, 29, of Passaic, NJ kisses his mother, Mari Gumann of Vernon as she holds his daughter, Khloe De La Cruz, who was born just before he went out for deployment. Approximately 160 NJ Army National Guard soldiers came home from Bahrain. | Military Affairs >>

Sgt. Jesse De La Cruz, 29, of Passaic, NJ kisses his mother, Mari Gumann of Vernon as she holds his daughter, Khloe De La Cruz, who was born just before he went out for deployment. Approximately 160 NJ Army National Guard soldiers came home from Bahrain. | Military Affairs >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

Advocates: Gay military couples to see more barriers fall
Supporters of marriage equality for gay military and veterans’ couples hailed today’s Supreme Court’s decision for its promise of removing the remaining barriers to some federal benefits. While the court’s previous decision partly striking down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013 cleared the way for gay military couples to qualify for Defense Department benefits, the Veterans Affairs Department has followed a section of law that effectively denies of benefits for some couples who live in states where same-sex marriage is not recognized. | Military Times >>

Senators want a permanent inspector general for VA
The Veterans Affairs Department needs an inspector general, according to Congress. On Thursday, a bipartisan group of 10 senators urged President Obama to name a permanent inspector general for the department, noting that the important oversight post has been vacant since late 2013. | Military Times >>

VA aims to help homeless, at-risk veterans find stable jobs
David Bowles is excitedly making plans to move from a homeless shelter to an apartment of his own in a few weeks, thanks to a new Department of Veterans Affairs program helping homeless veterans find long-term employment. “They saved me,” said the 56-year-old former Marine, who got VA assistance in landing a job with a suburban Cincinnati company. | Associated Press >>

Afghanistan

U.S. military air strikes have targeted militants who were threatening international coalition forces near the border in eastern Afghanistan, a U.S. forces spokesman said on Sunday. | Reuters >>

Last year saw more children killed or maimed in Afghanistan since monitoring of those statistics began in 2007, reflecting that “children are bearing the brunt of the conflict,” according to United Nations UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report on children and armed conflict in that strife-torn country. | UN News Centre >>

Afghan troops on Friday recaptured a district in a remote province along the country’s mountainous border with Pakistan, just a day after it fell to the Taliban following a deadly assault by the insurgents. | Associated Press >>

Iraq

Gunmen shot dead a senior oil official working for Iraq’s state-run North Oil Company (NOC) on Sunday, police and company officials said. NOC’s chief of operations, Saad al-Karbalaie, was killed in the northern oil city of Kirkuk. Gunmen forced him to stop his vehicle as he was leaving his office and then shot him, police sources said. | Reuters >>

A series of attacks targeting public places killed 12 people in Baghdad on Saturday, Iraqi authorities said, as the prime minister announced the arrest of an aide to Saddam Hussein. | Associated Press >>

Military commanders like to say that “quantity has a quality all its own.” It’s a shorthand way of saying that greater numbers of inferior weapons or troops often can beat smaller, superior forces. Given that Monday marks the first birthday of the declaration of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, it’s also worth noting that the passage of time, too, has a quality all its own. | TIME >>

Military Affairs

Defense officials have convened a working group to focus on issues related to military children’s education in schools outside the gates, an Army official said. | Military Times >>

In one of his final efforts as commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Joseph Dunford is working to ensure the Marines’ new joint strike fighter achieves its full potential. Dunford said the F-35B, set to reach initial operational capability for the Marine Corps this summer, had the power to transform Marine operations beyond its function as a cutting-edge new aircraft. | Marine Corps Times >>

Marines are eyeing new alternative shipping platforms to solve an emerging problem: how to bring Marine units in the Pacific together quickly in the event of a crisis. | Marine Corps Times >>

#VetsRising

Jeff Barillaro started writing music when he was 14 years old but found his niche after joining the U.S. Army. The Iraq War veteran is a military hip-hop artist who performs at events for veterans and active-duty military personnel. | Midland Reporter-Telegram >>

Morgan Watt is a former Air Force working dog handler who specialized in explosive detection. Though he’s been out of the military for almost 20 years, he was recently diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, an illness that affects around 8 million American adults each year — many of them veterans. | Huffington Post >>

There are nearly two million female military and combat veterans in the U.S. — 46,000 of them from Michigan. Those numbers might be surprising to some, said Army veteran Zaneta Adams and founder of Women Injured in Combat (WINC), a national awareness group working to better the lives of female military and combat veterans. | M Live >>

Inside Washington

Lawmakers grilled Department of Veterans Affairs leaders this week about a budget shortfall of $2.6 billion to $2.7 billion at the beleaguered agency, and some congressmen have begun to call on the VA to sell assets. | CNBC >>

The government has ordered at least five additional helicopter training programs to stop enrolling more veterans, part of a continuing crackdown to end GI Bill abuses that have cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. | LA Times >>

This week, NPR reported that the Department of Veterans Affairs failed to live up to a promise to contact 4,000 veterans who were exposed to mustard gas in secret military experiments. In 1993, the VA promised it would reach out to each of those veterans to let them know that they were eligible for disability benefits. Instead, over the past 20 years, the VA reached out to only 610. | NPR >>

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