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IAVA Daily News Brief – March 23, 2016

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Members of a military marching band at the annual South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade pass in Boston, Mass. According to parade organizers, the parade is listed as the second longest parade in the country. Scott Eisen/Getty Images | Military Times >>

Today’s Top Stories

The VA Program For Veteran Caregivers You May Not Know About
Roughly 5.5 million people serve as caregivers for veteran family members. The Department of Veterans Affairs has a lesser known benefit for these family members. Known as Caregiver Support Services, these benefits aim to help family members who are tasked with the primary care of a disabled veteran. | Task & Purpose >>

Troop count in Iraq doesn’t include all forces, Pentagon chief acknowledges
Defense Secretary Ash Carter acknowledged Tuesday that the number of U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq is higher than the administration’s authorized cap of 3,870. “People who are temporarily assigned — and this has been true for here and in Afghanistan for some time — they, under the caps, are counted differently, as you well know,” Carter told the House Armed Services Committee. | The Hill >>

More veterans using marijuana for PTSD
A growing number of states are weighing whether to legalize marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. But for many veterans, the debate is already over. They’re increasingly using cannabis even though it remains illegal in most states and is unapproved by the Department of Veterans Affairs because major studies have yet to show it is effective against PTSD. | AP >>

Afghanistan

The new commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan apologized on Tuesday to the victims of the United States’ bombing of a hospital in the northern city of Kunduz last year that killed 42 people. | New York Times >>
Sgt. Matthew S. Parker (ret.), received a Silver Star medal on base March 18, 2016. The Silver Star is the third highest military combat decoration and was awarded to Parker for his bravery and composure during an attack in Afghanistan on May 21, 2011, while he was deployed as a rifleman with 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment during Operation Enduring Freedom. | Marines.mil >>

Thousands of students in eastern Afghanistan are unable to attend school because the Islamic State (IS) is keeping classrooms shuttered. According to Afghan Ministry of Education estimates, around 33,000 students have been deprived of education in 58 schools in the Achin, Haskamena, and Kot districts of Nangarhar province. | Voice of America >>

Iraq

Fire Base Bell hearkens back to the United States’ older wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where small outposts with names like Fire Base Phoenix and Combat Outpost Turbett were ubiquitous and where the creation of yet one more would only be noticed by the enemy and the troops that had to fill the sandbags. Yet in the fight against the Islamic State, the creation of a U.S. outpost indicates a noteworthy development in a battle that is largely fought from the skies. | Washington Post >>

Iraq’s Shiite militias, formed in 2014 to fight Sunni extremists from the Islamic State, show no intention of standing down after the battle. Instead, they’re demanding to be a major force in shaping Iraq. | Denver Post >>

As Iraqi security forces took back the city of Ramadi late last year from the Islamic State, there was a near-constant presence overhead: The B-1B Lancer, the swept-wing bomber that dropped about a third of all coalition weapons on militants during its deployment from July through January. But the air war has reached a new phase. The B-1B has been redeployed to the United States, and the number of bombs falling on the Islamic State has plummeted since. | Washington Post >>

Military Affairs

Despite lacking the air-to-air combat ability of the F-15 Eagle and the high-tech stealth capabilities of the F-22 Raptor, the U.S. Air Force still uses the A-10 to support ground forces in close combat more than 40 years after its first flight in 1975. But if it hadn’t been for Kay, this iconic plane may have been grounded before ever seeing battle. | CNN >>

The nation’s largest and most expensive destroyer headed out to sea Monday for final builder trials before being presented to the Navy for inspection. Engineers and technicians at Bath Iron Works are going to focus on propulsion, mobility and safety aboard the future USS Zumwalt to ensure everything is shipshape before the next trials, in which the Navy will perform a pre-delivery inspection. | CBS News >>

The U.S. Marine Corps continues to upgrade its prepositioning in Norwegian caves near NATO’s external border to Russia at a time when European countries worry about the security environment. | Daily Caller >>

#VetsRising

Suicide is something friends Joel Rosales and Efriam Ortiz are all too familiar with. The local veterans said they’ve lost friends to suicide. They also know how many veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder every day. But, the two aren’t giving up on doing what they can to help. | Visalia Times-Delta >>

Nearly 40 people came together at the Dietrich Theater in Tunkhannock for the first-ever open reading from the Warrior Writers, an outcrop of the theater’s writers’ group. Half a dozen men and women, all military veterans, took to the microphone to share the words they had put on paper. That took courage. But it took even more courage to delve into their minds and souls, to bring forth the issues they still carry from their military service and to put them into words on paper. | Abington Journal >>

People in metro Denver are working together to try to help get vets and their pets into a home. William Adams is a former military police officer. He said the bond he has with his German shepherd saved his life. | KDVR >>


Inside Washington

On Monday, the U.S. House passed the “Foreclosure Relief and Extension for Servicemembers Act of 2015” which makes it tougher to foreclose on the property of veterans. | Sunshine State News >>

Veterans being treated for mental health issues show interest in using technology to receive care, with a few caveats, according to research published at Telemedicine and e-Health. Seventy-four patients at a Boston VA outpatient clinic completed a pencil-and-paper survey on their interest in using computers, cellphones and tablets for their mental healthcare. | Fierce Health IT >>

A special inspector general has confirmed that he’s conducting two full audits of a Pentagon task force accused of wasting millions of taxpayer dollars in Afghanistan. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) “will conduct a performance audit that will assess the strategy, planning, interagency coordination, oversight and outcomes of [the task force’s] programs and activities in Afghanistan,” John Sopko wrote in a letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and released by Grassley’s office Tuesday. | The Hill >>

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