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IAVA Daily News Brief – March 2, 2015

Today’s Top Stories

VA report: 48 claims’ dates at Little Rock benefits center altered
A surprise inspection of the Little Rock veterans benefits center revealed staff members marking overlooked claims — many almost 2 years old— to make them appear as if they had just been filed. | Associated Press >>

Researchers seek combat troops with lung symptoms
Army researchers are looking for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with breathing difficulties such as shortness of breath or wheezing to study how deployments may affect lung health. | Military Times >>

GOP senator threatens to subpoena VA over ‘Candy Land’
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is threatening to subpoena the top watchdog at the Veterans Affairs Department for allegedly blocking his efforts to investigate one of its hospitals where painkiller prescriptions were given out “like candy.” | The Hill >>

Afghanistan

President Obama will host Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Washington next month, the White House said on Friday, as U.S. officials consider making changes to the administration plan for ending the military mission in Afghanistan. | Washington Post >>

More than 2,300 soldiers from three major Army units will deploy to Afghanistan this spring and summer, officials have announced. | Army Times >>

As the bulk of the Corps bid farewell to Afghanistan months ago, a small group of Marines stayed behind, continuing the fight in the war-torn country. | Marine Corps Times >>

Iraq

A U.S.-led coalition launched 11 air strikes in Iraq and nine in Syria since early Friday against Islamic State militants, the Combined Joint Task Force said. | Reuters >>

In response to the destruction of ancient artifacts by militants in northern Iraq, Iraq’s National Museum, in Baghdad, has officially reopened for the first time in 12 years. | New York Times >>

The Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) has systematically targeted minorities in Iraq and may be guilty of committing genocide, a new report from human rights groups says. | TIME >>

Military Affairs

A new training exercise that took place across four states tested Marines’ mettle to carry out missions like embassy evacuations and pilot rescues as the steady deployment of land-based crisis response units becomes the new norm. | Marine Corps Times >>

The Air Force will remove 18 A-10s from its active flight lines as continues its push to retirethe Warthogs domestically. The service will also transition an F-16 squadron to the F-35 earlier than planned. | Air Force Times >>

The Army National Guard will activate three cyber protection teams in five states in fiscal year 2016, with seven more teams to follow, officials announced Tuesday. | Army Times >>

New Greatest Generation

The debut novel by Silver Star recipient Elliot Ackerman might be one of the first works of fiction about the Afghan war to be published by a veteran who fought in it — but he expects more will follow. | Marine Corps Times >>

Gabriel Ruiz wasn’t sure about getting a service dog. The army veteran who suffered traumatic brain injury when rocket fire struck his convoy in Iraq has enough trouble when he’s out in public. He didn’t want the attention a large dog could bring. | The Press of Atlantic City >>

Three important things to know about Joe Williams: He wanted to be a Marine. He wanted to make art. And he wanted to kill himself. Each, it seems, isn’t like the others. To Williams, a 28-year-old Iraq veteran and sculpture student at the Kansas City Art Institute, they relate in interesting ways. And by acknowledging that, he thinks he can help military folks like him. | The Kansas City Star >>

Inside Washington

Veterans are expressing unease at a bill calling for late Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, whose story was depicted in the film “American Sniper,” to be honored posthumously with a Medal of Honor. Retired Army Sgt. First Class Jonn Lilyea, who founded and runs the blog “This Ain’t Hell,” wrote Friday that the bill is a “political stunt.” | The Hill >>

Even as Washington policymakers begin to ponder a new, far-reaching proposal to redefine the military retirement system, a previous overhaul of the benefit is dying a slow death. | Military Times >>

The Department of Veterans Affairs has ordered an Iraq war veteran to pay back federal benefits she earned for her wife and child, claiming that she was issued them by mistake, since her home state of Texas does not recognize her marriage. | The Advocate >>

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