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IAVA Daily News Brief – March 24, 2015

Today’s Top Stories

GOP chairman: Officials at VA ‘need to be fired’
Senior employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) should be fired for the major construction projects that are expected to run billions of dollars over budget, Rep. Jeff Miller said Monday. | The Hill >>

Attorney General criticizes VA emailer following license suspension
The manager at Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center who sent an email mocking veteran suicides, had her social work license temporarily suspended today. | Indianapolis Star >>

Veteran hiring by federal government hits record high
Nearly one-third of the federal government’s new hires in fiscal 2014 were veterans – a record high, according to the administration. | Federal Times >>

Afghanistan

President Obama plans to keep most of the 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan in the country through 2015 — and keep open two key airfields — as part of an effort to slow the U.S. withdrawal and help prop up Afghan forces, sources told Fox News. | Fox News >>

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s main mission in coming to Washington is to fundamentally change the American view of Afghanistan, not so much inside the Obama administration as on Capitol Hill. | Politico >>

It is a strangely formal, yet troubling scene. A room in a far flung corner of Afghanistan where a serious lecture is happening, to an audience that seems part ideological, part curious; some are just impoverished, hoping for a quick job. | CNN >>

Iraq

Last week Iraqi defence officials and Shia military commanders were confidently predicting the fall of Tikrit within a matter of days. But the city centre is still in the hands of Islamic State (IS) fighters, despite being bombarded for more than a fortnight. | BBC News >>

Islamic State militants are skimming tens of millions of dollars a month from salaries paid to Iraqi government employees in occupied areas such as Mosul, and Baghdad continues to send the cash to maintain local support. | Wall Street Journal >>

President Barack Obama will meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi at the White House on April 14, the administration announced Monday. Al-Abadi has expressed frustration in what he called “slowness” of the U.S.-led international coalition in providing military support against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. | Politico >>

Military Affairs

As the service undergoes its largest draw down in decades, Army leaders are doubling their efforts to boost the Army Credentialing Program, which gives soldiers opportunities to earn civilian-equivalent certifications and licenses. | Army Times >>

Now faced with the need for hundreds of billions of dollars in improvements to the current U.S. nuclear stockpile and new nuclear equipment over the next two decades, Pentagon leaders are speaking up. | Defense One >>

When two junior sailors were caught fudging their physical readiness test scores on their first day at nuclear field ‘A’ school in Charleston, South Carolina, they had a surprising – and unsettling – explanation. It was simply what they’d learned to do at boot camp. | Navy Times >>

New Greatest Generation

A federal jury on Monday awarded nearly $28,600 to an Iraq War veteran who sued his former employer, a Schlumberger subsidiary, over his request to bring a service dog to work to help him cope with his post-traumatic stress disorder. | Houston Chronicle >>

A veteran is asking for help finding a young girl he rescued nearly 10 years ago after Hurricane Katrina. An embrace between the two was preserved in a photo. The picture of Staff Sgt. Michael Maroney hugging the girl became a prominent symbol after Katrina devastated New Orleans. | WFLA >>

All it takes is one moment, one wavering step out from under the shadow of combat trauma, and you sometimes have the privilege of hearing what Bill Rider calls “The Gift.” | U-T San Diego >>

Inside Washington

Military veterans from all states will qualify for in-state tuition at New Jersey’s public college and universities under a new state law signed Monday. | NJ.com >>

Beginning Tuesday, veterans filing or appealing claims must use standardized forms, a controversial move that the VA says will streamline the process, but some advocates say it will cost tens of thousands of veterans their benefits. | Stars and Stripes >>

For decades, veterans went to public universities and colleges under the Hazlewood Exemption, which kicks in after federal benefits under the G.I. Bill are exhausted. But the price tag has increased sevenfold since 2009, when legislators in Texas – which has the country’s second-highest veteran population, 1.7 million – allowed the benefit to be passed on to veterans’ children under a legacy provision. | CBS News >>

 

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