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IAVA Daily News Brief – March 17, 2015

Today’s Top Stories

House Vets Chairman: VA Impeding Congressional Oversight
The chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee on Monday accused the inspector general and other officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs of withholding reports from his panel, despite pledges to be transparent. | Associated Press >>

House veterans committee call for probe of VA’s female care
Eleven members of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs sent a letter to the VA’s deputy inspector general last week requesting the probe to better identify the needs of female veterans, including issues of privacy and the VA’s ability to provide gender-specific care for female vets, including basic gynecological services. | Minneapolis Star Tribune >>

Obama talks about trust to workers during visit to VA wait list scandal site
Obama visited Phoenix not to claim victory that the afflicted agency had been healed, but to inspect the repair job. “We all know that there have been significant problems at this facility, that the kind of cooking the books and unwillingness to face up to the fact that veterans were not being adequately served went on too long, and as a consequence, we didn’t fix what needed to be fixed,” he said after a roundtable meeting in the hospital. | Washington Post >>

Afghanistan

The top U.N. envoy in Afghanistan said Monday that recent reports indicate the Islamic State extremist group has established a foothold in Afghanistan, a view echoed by Russia which urged the Security Council to stop its expansion. | Associated Press >>

The Obama administration is abandoning plans to cut the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan to 5,500 by year’s end, bowing to military leaders who want to keep more troops there, including many into the 2016 fighting season, U.S. officials say. | Associated Press >>

In a bid to force the Obama administration to turn over records related to drone missile strikes against terror suspects, the ACLU is suing the federal government. | New York Post >>

Iraq

Islamic State militants on Monday continued to hold parts of the city of Tikrit against a much larger pro-government force after two weeks of battle, as Iraqi officials said they were pausing their offensive to call for reinforcements and to preserve property and civilian lives. | New York Times >>

The United States turned over more than 60 cultural artifacts to Iraq on Monday after investigations determined the items had been stolen from the country and were being sold on the international antiquities market. | USA Today >>

Dressed in green and carrying a heavy rifle, Yazan al-Jabouri paced along the front line on the fringes of the northern city of Tikrit, anxiously awaiting a plan of attack. | Associated Press >>

Military Affairs

The Navy is evaluating whether it can add 28 more Tomahawk missiles to each Virginia-class submarine sooner than expected, service leaders said. | Military.com >>

The first of 10 AH-64 Apache battalions to receive Shadow unmanned aerial systems will be reflagged today at Fort Bliss, Texas. The 1st Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment will become 3rd Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, making it the first Apache battalion to be converted to a heavy attack reconnaissance squadron. | Army Times >>

The plea deal given to retired Gen. David H. Petraeus, which spares him prison time even though he gave military secrets to his mistress, reveals a “profound double standard” in the way the Obama administration treats people who leak classified information, a lawyer for an imprisoned government contractor wrote in a letter to prosecutors. | New York Times >>

New Greatest Generation

Groepper, 27, doesn’t have all the answers, but she knows where to start. The Puyallup resident is the founder of a new nonprofit organization called Washington Warrior Widows. It aims to walk the surviving loved ones of late military service members through a sometimes bewildering bureaucracy during times of mourning when few survivors can think clearly. | Army Times >>

One woman joined the Indiana National Guard to pay for college, never expecting that a terrorist attack on the United States while she was still in training would result in her deployment to Afghanistan. | Indianapolis Star >>

To residents in the area of Haley and Carpenter streets, the gathering at Freddy P’s on the third Tuesday of every month might not be a big deal. But for those on the inside of the Midland Area Vet-2-Vet meetings, it’s a chance to get helpful news, bond, share a few laughs and give a little to their community. | Midland Daily News >>

Inside Washington

Washington policymakers will soon begin consideration of the biggest overhaul of the military health care system since Tricare replaced CHAMPUS in the early 1990s — changes that would shift millions of beneficiaries to commercial, private-sector health plans. | Military Times >>

Hickey, 57, now a retired brigadier general and one of the highest-ranking women at the Department of Veterans Affairs, was in the first class of female cadets to graduate in 1980. They endured frequent threats from male classmates, she recalled. She was once cornered by a male cadet yelling: “If I could take you behind a barn right now and beat the you-know-what out of you, I would.” | Washington Post >>

Sens. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) introduced legislation Monday that aims to expand care for veterans by rolling back federal regulations. The bill would allow the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to contract with more private businesses to provide extended care, and would allow for more treatment options, including hospice and home healthcare. | The Hill >>

 

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