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IAVA Daily News Brief – March 12, 2015

Today’s Top Stories

Obama roundtable planned with veteran reps in Phoenix
Chuck Byers of Vietnam Veterans of America is mulling the many questions he might ask if he could address President Barack Obama during a roundtable event Friday at the Phoenix VA medical center. | The Arizona Republic >>

Veterans Choice Act Fails To Ease Travel Burdens For Vets In Need Of Care
Veterans who need to see a doctor often have to travel long distances – 40 miles or more – to get to a Department of Veterans Affairs facility. So last year, after scandals involving long wait times for vets, Congress tried to make getting care easier. | NPR >>

Preliminary Tomah VA inspection confirms unsafe prescribing
Doctors at the VA Medical Center in Tomah overprescribed opioids and sometimes combined them with other drugs in potentially dangerous combinations, a preliminary inspection found Tuesday. | Associated Press >>

Afghanistan

The U.S. has poured more than $104 billion into rebuilding Afghanistan – investing in projects and programs that were meant to boost its economy and bolster its security. | The Fiscal Times >>

Two British servicemen, killed in a “friendly fire” incident in Afghanistan, could still be alive if an inquiry into the Javelin weapons system had been set up, say their families. | BBC News >>

Sara Bahai’s decision to become Afghanistan’s only known female taxi driver was motivated less by ideals of equality than by the need to support an extended family – and a love of driving that has confined her conservative detractors to the rear-view mirror. | Associated Press >>

Iraq

Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday morning, Defense Secretary Ash Carter offered support for a three-year time limit on a proposed Authorization for Use of Military Force to cover the war against the Islamic State. | Huffington Post >>

Chinese officials say that members of the country’s Muslim Uighur ethnic minority have gone overseas to fight with the Islamic State group, which controls sections of Syria and Iraq, and returned to take part in plots at home. | Associated Press >>

The top U.S. military officer on Wednesday predicted certain victory by Iraqi forces and Shi’ite militia battling to retake the city of Tikrit but voiced concern about how Sunni Muslims would be treated once Islamic State militants were driven away. | Reuters >>

Military Affairs

The expected retirement this fall of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey and upcoming vacancies in several other top military posts have ramped up speculation on a range of successors. | Military.com >>

The Marine Corps’ top combat gear developer defended the service’s next-generation amphibious vehicle on Capitol Hill Wednesday, telling lawmakers it would be preserved above all else — even as looming budget cuts threaten efforts to modernize its ground vehicle fleet. | Marine Corps Times >>

An Army helicopter conducting a training mission had gone down in a thick blanket of fog Tuesday evening over the waters of Santa Rosa Sound, and Pentagon officials said the seven Marines and four soldiers aboard the UH-60 Blackhawk were presumed dead. | New York Times >>

New Greatest Generation

Veterans who come to the prosthetics department at the San Diego VA Medical Center are cared for by some people who know what it’s like to walk in their shoes. | KPBS >>

Hollister veteran Brian Jergens will be getting a swimming pool he can use for exercise and physical therapy, thanks to a little community love. Since last week, five local veterans groups stepped forward to offer about $15,000 in funds toward installing the man-made lagoon in the Jergens’ backyard. | Free Lance News >>

Some troubled Los Angeles veterans are getting help through an unlikely source: orphaned parrots. | LA Times >>

Inside Washington

Researchers have identified genetic markers associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that are linked with regulating the immune system, Medical News Today reported. This finding may lead to the ability to identify individuals at risk of PTSD. | Fox News >>

Satire: The following is an open letter from the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United States Senate. | Duffel Blog >>

The manager at Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center who mocked veteran suicides in an email is now in hot water with the state board that licenses social workers. | Indianapolis Star >>

Congressional leaders are warning that the troubled Department of Veterans Affairs hospital project in Aurora could shut down again this month. | Denver Post >>

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ crisis in health care came to a head in April 2014 at a meeting of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. | The Arizona Republic >>

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