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IAVA Daily News Brief – May 18, 2017

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Today’s Top Stories 

The Choice program allows veterans to get health care in the private sector if they face a long wait time or live far from the nearest VA Medical Center. This was a key provision in the August 2014 Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act – a bipartisan response to the scandal that erupted over veterans’ delayed access to medical care at VA facilities across the country. | The Washington Post >>

The Government Accountability Office report concluded that the military failed to follow policies designed to prevent inappropriate discharge of service members with post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. The result is many veterans received less than honorable discharges, making them ineligible for health care, disability benefits, or education aid from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. | CT Post >>

The committee shot down several amendments from Democratic members, who argued union time was valuable and the bill wouldn’t do much to provide more care to veterans, as its supporters claim. Yet the committee voted 13-11 to pass HR 1461, which would prohibit VA employees from spending more than 50 percent of their work time on union activities. Employees who work directly with patients would be limited to 25 percent. | Stars and Stripes >>

Iraq and Afghanistan

Two of the attackers were killed, and security forces were trying to track down the other two. Mohammad Gulab Mangal, the province’s governor, said four employees of the state television channel and two police officers were killed, and 24 others, including seven police officers, were injured. But Najibullah Kamawal, the provincial health director, put the number of injured at 18. | The New York Times >>

Vessels hauling 62 million barrels of the nation’s crude departed ports in the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean Sea in the first half of May, according to tanker-tracking and shipping agent data. If sustained through May, the daily rate of 4.14 million barrels would exceed any month since Bloomberg began tracking shipments in January 2015. Current shipments, a partial proxy for output, would exceed sales in October which was the baseline month for the production accord. | Bloomberg >>

Stepping into the store of 69-year-old Tawakal is like entering a time machine. For decades, Tawakal has collected and restored weapons dating back hundreds of years from provinces across the country, estimating that he has almost 200 tucked into his store, known simply as the Tawakal store, and a storage room in the back. | Fox News >>

Military Affairs

The Army says newly freed Pvt. Chelsea Manning will be on a special, unpaid off-duty status that will allow the transgender soldier to wear her preferred civilian clothing, including women’s attire. Manning also will be able to live where she wants. | The Washington Post >>

Air Force officials said surviving family members will be notified about the new program through mail sent from their closest base. Family members eligible for the card are the same as those eligible to receive the official Gold Star lapel button, including parents, siblings and adult children of those killed in combat. (Photo Right) | Military.com >>

Though U.S. Central Command did not identify the unit now in Syria, Marine Corps Times’ Jeff Schogol noted that they seem likely to belong to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which is in the region on a scheduled deployment with USS Bataan’s amphibious ready group. On April 23, the 24th MEU posted a photo to the unit’s Facebook page, showing artillery Marines at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, firing M777 A2 howitzers at an artillery range. | Task and Purpose >>

#VetsRising

“It struck a lightbulb in my head. In agriculture, we were in a crisis. We needed more young people to become farmers. When I saw the study, we were at the peak of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I thought, if these guys and gals are serving their country, why not help make jobs for them on our farms?” O’Gorman called his farmer friends in northern California to talk about creating space on their farms to employ veterans, and “Word got out about the meeting. Three mothers who lost their sons in Afghanistan, one of them was Mary Tillman, attended the meeting to support us.” | Fox News >>

To get the vets back into the community and help them find lifesaving resources, Tech From Vets launched Vets 22, a mobile app that helps save veteran’s lives by engaging with them and introducing them to little-known resources. The app was named Vet 22 to commemorate the lives of an average of 22 vets who commit suicide in the United States on a daily basis. Studies show that the average Iraq or Afghan war veteran finds life much more difficult than those who served in the previous wars in Korea and Vietnam. (Photo Right) | Tech.co >>

The fight continues, this time here at home. And it seems not to be an unusual fight for some of our veterans from the recent wars. A basic Internet search of cancer plus Iraq/Afghanistan veterans produces large numbers of articles and stories about the increased occurrence of this deadly disease amongst this population, male and female. This is not stating that the cancer attacking Sanchez is a direct result of her service overseas, but the information available online certainly provides pause for thought. Regardless of the underlying causes, Sanchez is in another fight. | The East County Californian >>

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