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IAVA Daily News Brief – May 21, 2015

Today’s Top Stories

Despite numbers, rural vets lack attention, resources
About 5.6 million veterans are living in rural regions of America, but public planners still have too limited a view of their struggles to effectively reach them, advocates warn. Officials from the Housing Assistance Council held their annual summit on rural veterans issues Wednesday to push for more attention, outreach and resources for those individuals, who make up more than 11 percent of the total veterans population. | Military Times >>

‘They will pay off’: Employers, advocates help returning vets face next battle — landing a job
For many veterans coming home after multiple tours over 14 years of war, getting a job in the civilian world has been their most personal battle yet, marked by disappointments and dead ends. But, thanks to a slowly improving job market and active efforts by veterans’ groups, officials and recruiters in private-sector companies, that dim outlook is beginning to brighten. | Fox News >>

VA urges lawmakers to save Denver hospital
The Veterans Affairs Department is warning Congress that construction of a delay-plagued agency hospital near Denver could come to a halt if lawmakers don’t approve more funds before their Memorial Day break. | The Hill >>

Afghanistan

The Pentagon wasted $36 million by building a command facility in Afghanistan after the troop surge there ended — against the advice of generals on the ground who said it wasn’t needed, a military watchdog said Wednesday in a blistering report. | NBC News >>

The final shape and number of the NATO force for Enduring Partnership has not yet been determined. But Stoltenberg characterized it as much smaller than the current mission “Resolute Support” with approximately 13,000 troops. | Huffington Post >>

At least a dozen Afghan police officers were killed in a series of insurgent attacks on checkpoints in the country’s southern Uruzgan province, an official said. | Associated Press >>

Iraq

Though constrained by the U.S. policy of “no boots on the ground,” Marines in Iraq have contributed to the fight against the Islamic State group in ways that go far beyond military advising. | Marine Corps Times >>

The Pentagon does not plan on changing its strategy in Iraq, despite the loss of Ramadi to Islamic State forces over the weekend, a pair of DoD spokesmen said Wednesday. | Defense News >>

Saddam Hussein’s nephew was killed in a battle against pro-government forces in Iraq, according to the Baath Party and ISIS supporters. NBC News was not immediately able to independently confirm the reports. Iraq’s government did not comment. | NBC News >>

Military Affairs

The Blue Angels are dedicating their air show in Annapolis, Maryland, to the U.S.Naval Academy midshipman who died in last week’s Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia. The Blue Angels are performing on Wednesday as part of the academy’s class of 2015 graduation events. | Marine Corps Times >>

Joint Task Force 505 is drawing down its earthquake relief operations as the Nepalese government and international aid agencies have postured for long-term recovery and reconstruction efforts. Nepal announced its transition from relief operations to the recovery phase of disaster response May 19. | Air Force Link >>

More than 3,000 U.S. and partner-nation troops have gathered in Morocco for the annual joint force exercise, the largest on the continent. Set to end Friday, it aims to reinforce training engagements from previous African Lion exercises and create a foundation for future military-to-military cooperation. | Air Force Times >>

#VetsRising

A soldier’s uniform defines his or her time in service and sets that soldier apart from others, based on branch of service, rank, unit and other accomplishments. The uniform is encoded with memories of when the soldier wore it, traveled in it, and slept in it. Now, an Iraq war veteran living in San Francisco has started a project to turn those artifacts of war, which carry such deep meaning, into art. | ABC News >>

Captain Luis Carlos Montalván and his service dog, Tuesday visit the Expeditionary Learning Middle School to speak to a group of eighth graders. He recently published a children’s book, Tuesday Tuck Me In and has previously published a New York Times bestselling memoir, Until Tuesday. | The Post-Standard >>

FOX Sports networks will pay tribute to Major Stephen Reich – an American soldier and Minor League Baseball player who lost his life on a rescue mission in Afghanistan – for Memorial Day Weekend. | Atlanta Business Chronicle >>

Inside Washington

The POW/MIA flag was missing in action at City Hall on Tuesday. It was missing Monday and Sunday as well. In fact, it was missing all the way back to last June — despite a city statute requiring the somber black banner to be flown every day at the hall. But the forgotten flag of remembrance was nowhere to be seen because the de Blasio administration shelved it for roof repairs. | NY Daily News >>

House Speaker John Boehner (BAY’-nur) says the Department of Veterans Affairs is no better off a year after former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki (shin-SEHK’-ee) resigned. Shinseki had stepped down amid a scandal over long wait times for veterans seeking health care and falsified records to cover up the delays. | Associated Press >>

Members of Congress got together Tuesday night to raise money for a non-profit group that provides veterans with service dogs trained to help vets cope with PTSD. The charity group, K9s For Warriors, fills a need for vets who may have a hard time adjusting to their new roles in civilian life. | The Daily Caller >>

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