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IAVA Daily News Brief – May 6, 2015

Air Force Maj. Tyler Ellison administers the oath of enlistment to Florida's newest airmen during an air show in Lakeland, Fla. | Military Times >>

Air Force Maj. Tyler Ellison administers the oath of enlistment to Florida’s newest airmen during an air show in Lakeland, Fla. | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

Robert McDonald: Why We Serve
Sec. Robert McDonald writes for the Federal Times: My life’s purpose has always been to improve lives. That’s why I became a Boy Scout, a West Point Cadet, and a U.S. Army officer. That’s also why I joined Procter & Gamble, where I worked to improve the lives of people through P&G brands, and why I joined the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), where we work every day to improve the lives of the 22 million men and women who are America’s veterans. | Federal Times >>

Lawmaker lashes out at VA secretary’s ‘rampant lack of accountability’
A top House Republican is accusing the Department of Veterans Affairs of a “rampant lack of accountability” and secrecy as the embattled agency faces more scrutiny by lawmakers over shoddy services for veterans and mistreatment of employees. | Washington Times >>

VA to offer one-stop website for all veterans benefits
Veterans will soon be able to log in to just one website to manage their benefits, apply for doctors’ appointments, and determine their eligibility for programs. | Federal Times >>

Afghanistan

Top Taliban representatives showed new willingness to negotiate an end to Afghanistan’s long conflict in meetings with Afghan officials and civic activists this weekend, including their first indication that they would consider a power-sharing solution. | Wall Street Journal >>

It’s the cash crop of the Taliban and the scourge of Afghanistan – the country’s intractable opium cultivation. This year, many Afghan poppy farmers are expecting a windfall as they get ready to harvest opium from a new variety of poppy seeds said to boost yield of the resin that produces heroin. | CBS News >>

Over three million Afghan refugees have been living in Pakistan for decades, escaping war in their country. More than half of them are unregistered, but they have been tolerated by the authorities for years. However, soon after the deadly attack by the Pakistani Taliban on a school in Peshawar, reports surfaced that the massacre was planned in Afghanistan and that Afghans were involved. | BBC News >>

Iraq

When al-Qaida overran the Yemeni port city of Mukalla last month, the group’s commanders immediately struck a deal to share power with the area’s tribesmen. No jihadi banners were raised. Al-Qaida even issued a statement denying rumors that it had banned music at parties or men wearing shorts. | Associated Press >>

When the Islamic State group took over parts of Iraq, the government turned to Iran and Iraqi citizens for help. Special correspondent Jane Arraf visits a training center of volunteers who were inspired by Iran’s Supreme Leader, and a Shia community that’s sending its young men to battle. | PBS >>

Reinforcements are being rushed to the key Beiji refinery in northern Iraq amid heavy fighting with Islamic State militants who have been trying to capture the facility for months, Iraqi officials said Tuesday. | Associated Press >>

Military Affairs

The U.S. Army has awarded a contract to a U.S. subsidiary of BAE Systems Plc to create a headset that merges night vision and thermal imaging technology. | Washington Times >>
President Barack Obama will tap Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Tuesday, a defense official confirmed late Monday. Obama will also nominate Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, the head of U.S. Transportation Command, to become the next vice chairman, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity ahead of the announcement. | Defense One >>

Donald Trump pledged at the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation gala he’d give $100,000 to the charity. Trump unveiled the donation during his speech at the Waldorf Astoria, where he was honored with Col. G.F. Robert Hanke. | New York Post >>

#VetsRising

A new business initiative that features some of the biggest companies in the country aims to connect veteran-owned small businesses with larger corporations. | Stars and Stripes >>

What do we owe our canine veterans? And what can we afford to give them? When men and women decide to enlist, America promises them health insurance and access to care even after they leave the military (as terrible as that care can be). | Yahoo News >>

It is one of the most wrenching passages in Taya’s new book, “American Wife: A Memoir of Love, War, Faith and Renewal.” Released Monday, it covers the life of a family that has been under a microscope ever since the SEAL, credited as the most deadly sniper in U.S. military history, published a memoir in 2012 that was turned into the blockbuster movie “American Sniper.” | Washington Post >>

Inside Washington

Congress could tap an overseas war fund or cut the budget of the secretary of defense’s office to save the A-10 Thunderbolt from retirement, Senate lawmakers said Tuesday. | Stars and Stripes >>

Oversight reports recently released by the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General. The Pittsburgh VA medical center was allegedly using potentially defective devices for years and did not inform veterans, according to a newly released report from the Office of the Inspector General. | The Observer-Reporter >>

Department of Veterans Affairs is now investigating problems with is suicide crisis hotline that left many veterans stranded during high-volume call periods. | Disabled Veterans >>

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