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IAVA Daily News Brief – March 27, 2015

Today’s Top Stories

Veterans Hurt by Chemical Weapons in Iraq Get Apology
The under secretary of the Army on Wednesday apologized for the military’s treatment of American service members exposed to chemical weapons in Iraq, and he announced new steps to provide medical support to those with lingering health effects and to recognize veterans who had been denied awards. | New York Times >>

VA officials to testify about Tomah prescription policy
A VA medical center in Tomah accused of rampantly overprescribing painkillers was expected to be a focus of a U.S. Senate hearing Thursday, with several Department of Veterans Affairs officials scheduled to testify. | Associated Press >>

Lawmaker Wants VA to Further Expand Choice Card Eligibility
The chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee says he wants veterans to get needed health care from non-Veterans Affairs Department facilities even in some cases when they live within 40 miles of a VA clinic or hospital, which is currently barred under the Veterans Choice Act rules. | Military.com >>

Afghanistan

President Barack Obama’s decision to leave almost 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan through the end of the year may be a concession that America’s longest war will endure beyond his presidency, security analysts and lawmakers said. | Bloomberg >>

Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah urged caution on Thursday about the amount of power that the Islamic State has been able to wield in Afghanistan following reports that the terror group has begun to recruit and gain supporters in the country.  | Washington Times >>

The vicious mob killing of an Afghan woman has sparked protests in her country and a global movement demanding justice, complete with its own hashtag. | CNN >>

Iraq

Iraqi troops have launched the final phase of an offensive to recapture Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit, an official said Thursday, hours after the U.S. launched airstrikes on the Islamic State-held city. | USA Today >>

Three major Shiite militia groups pulled out of the fight against the Islamic State in Tikrit on Thursday, immediately depriving the Iraqi government of thousands of their fighters on the ground even as American warplanes readied for an expected second day of airstrikes there. | New York Times >>

Yellow-eyed, serpentine Islamic State group fighters are only trying to usher you into their bloody meat-grinder of death. That is, at least, the message that the Pentagon wishes the people of Raqqa to know, per 60,000 propaganda leaflets an American F-15 dropped over the key Syrian city on March 16. | U.S. News & World Report >>

Military Affairs

The U.S. Navy’s top warplanes can’t be launched off its newest aircraft carrier if they’re carrying fuel tanks needed to extend their flight range because the ship’s high-tech catapults cause too much wear. | Bloomberg >>

A convoy of U.S. Army armored vehicles is drawing crowds, cheers and tears as it makes an 1,100-mile journey from the Baltics through Poland and the Czech Republic to Germany. | CNN >>

More than a dozen Marines from Alpha Company fan out across California’s Mojave Desert, far into the distance. Machine-gun fire gives them cover. The small forms dash ahead. Some drop to one knee, others fall on their stomachs, firing at pop-up targets. Only one woman is part of this group. Until last fall, Sgt. Kelly Brown was fueling helicopters and trucks. Now she’s running with an assault rifle. | NPR >>

New Greatest Generation

Getting out of the Armed Forces can be a difficult time for many but a local Airborne Ranger decided to put all the passion he felt for the Army into a new business. Tania Ortega has more on Ranger Cattle Company in a special FOX 7 Care Force story. | Fox 7 Austin >>

Eric Fife looked at blood seeping from his knuckles and grinned. The former 173rd Army Airborne rifleman had just spent two hours doing something he’d never done before — playing lacrosse. And he loved every minute of it. Fife plays wheelchair tennis and hand cycles, but lacrosse was something new. | The Journal Sentinel >>

This week’s Tools for Teachers Award and 319 dollar prize for school supplies belongs to Robert Gilley. Mr. Gilley is a special education teacher as well as an Iraq War veteran currently serving in the National Guard as a Sergeant First Class military police officer. He’s been teaching for 13 years and has served our country since 1990. | WHNT 19 >>

Inside Washington

The top VA official in charge of construction nationwide retired Wednesday amid an internal investigation of delays and massive cost overruns at the Denver veterans hospital, the agency said. | Associated Press >>

The Department of Veterans Affairs, in an effort to streamline its claims process, launched a “standardized forms” requirement this week for veterans seeking disability benefits and filing appeals. The new requirement, which took effect Tuesday, has drawn criticism, however, from the Disabled American Veterans. The advocacy group, chartered by Congress, is concerned that the sudden change goes against the VA’s core values because many veterans will lose benefit opportunities. | Las Vegas Review-Journal >>

Military and veterans’ advocacy groups are split over a congressional commission’s radical proposal to privatize Tricare for military family members and retirees. | Military Times >>

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