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IAVA Daily News Brief – March 9, 2015

Today’s Top Stories

VA doesn’t release 140 vet health care probe findings
The Department of Veterans Affairs’ chief watchdog has not publicly released the findings of 140 health care investigations since 2006, potentially leaving dangerous problems to fester without proper oversight, a USA TODAY analysis of VA documents found. | USA Today >>

Health care for veterans goes high tech
When Barbara Van Dahlen was brainstorming ways to address veterans’ mental-health needs 10 years ago, she was inspired by Craigslist and the way the site made it easy for buyers to find sellers. | Washington Post >>

Jobless Rate for Post-9/11 Veterans Hits Record Low of 6.7 Percent
The February unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans fell to the lowest on record at 6.7 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. While still higher than the 5.5 percent national average for all workers, the unemployment rate for younger veterans was down from 9.2 percent the same month a year ago and reflects a double-digit decline from previous years. | Military.com >>

Afghanistan

An attack by unknown gunmen Saturday night has left at least six people dead and another five wounded in Afghanistan’s capital city. | LA Times >>

Inmates at a prison in northern Afghanistan held at least five people hostage Sunday after a riot wounded five police officers and 10 inmates, an Afghan security official said. | Associated Press >>

The Sufi Muslim meetinghouse in Kabul that the 46-year-old science teacher attended for more than a decade was attacked by gunmen. Officials said six people were killed, but members of the Sufi order said Sunday that 11 had died, including the local leader of the order and his son. | LA Times >>

Iraq

Islamic State militants continued their campaign targeting cultural heritage sites in territories they control in northern Iraq, looting and damaging the ancient city of Hatra just one day after bulldozing the historic city of Nimrud, according to Iraqi government officials and local residents. | USA Today >>

The top U.S. military officer will press the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi during a visit to Iraq this week about its plans for avoiding sectarian fallout once the Iranian-backed operation to dislodge the Islamic State from the city of Tikrit concludes. | Washington Post >>

Gunmen dressed all in black abducted 31 Shiite men Saturday from their home in eastern Baghdad, an attack police described as targeting suspected criminals, Iraqi officials said. Separate attacks in the capital killed six people, authorities said. | Associated Press >>

Military Affairs

The Army issued a directive Friday that protects transgender soldiers from being dismissed by mid-level officers by requiring the decision for discharge to be made by the service’s top civilian for personnel matters. | USA Today >>

Ship crews now have new measures to improve safety as destroyers land helicopters. The move comes a year and a half after a fatal 2013 mishap when a chock and chained MH-60S Sea Hawk was swept off the flight deck of the destroyer William P. Lawrence and into the Red Sea, claiming the lives of its two pilots, and leading to discord between surface warfare officers and helicopter aircrews. | Navy Times >>

As the Marine Corps reorients toward crisis response missions in Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, the service’s Futures Directorate is developing technology that will ensure serious casualties receive life-saving care within an hour of catastrophic injury — no matter how remote the battlefield. | Marine Corps Times >>

New Greatest Generation

Chad Pfeifer, who enlisted with the U.S. Army after the attacks on 9/11 and lost his left leg in Iraq, hopes to be the first amputee to make the PGA Tour. | NY Daily News >>

It’s estimated that of the 2.7 million veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, at least 20 percent will face yet another battle, as they cope with the effects of post traumatic stress. For some, a connection to animals might bring relief. | NPR >>

Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Daniel “Doc” Jacobs, who lost part of his leg in a 2006 bombing in Iraq will try our for several major league baseball teams this spring training. | U-T San Diego >>

Inside Washington

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) has reintroduced legislation to cut down the backlog for disability claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Quicker Veterans Benefits Delivery Act of 2015 would allow veterans who have backlogged claims — those pending for more than 125 days — to visit local, non-VA doctors for their initial disability exam. | The Hill >>

Fernando Oscar Rivera Jr. ducked beneath a low-slung two-by-four and stepped onto the dusty concrete foundation of what will become the region’s first veterans hospital in a decade. | The Times-Picayune >>

Without whistleblowers, the revelation that the Department of Veterans Affairs tried to cover up dangerous delays in care at its health facilities may not have ever come to light. | Fierce Healthcare >>

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