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IAVA Daily News Brief – May 6, 2016

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At 17,400 feet, Mount Foraker towers above soldiers as they offload equipment and supplies from a CH-47F Chinook helicopter after landing on Kahiltna Glacier in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska, on April 24.  John Pennell/Army | Military Times >>

Today’s Top Stories

Veterans With Job Skills America Needs
In addition to their hard skills, veterans and military spouses like Donny and Sandy also bring plenty of hard-won life skills: an exacting sense of discipline; a commitment to executing missions perfectly every time; the ability to juggle competing priorities; experience managing diverse teams in high-pressure situations. | The Wall Street Journal >>

Military Sexual Assault Reports Level Off, but Pentagon Officials Remain Concerned
The 6,083 reports of sexual assault in the U.S. military last year remained almost level with the previous year, but Pentagon officials who released the latest statistics remain concerned that service members continue to report sexual assault at a high rate. | ABC News >>

Vets Groups Rally Behind Bill to Let VA Provide In Vitro Fertilization
“This amendment is about fulfilling our promise to the military families who we ask to sacrifice and serve our country on our behalf,” Murray said afterward. “I know this is just the first hurdle. I will be fighting to see this through to the end so this country can keep up its commitment to care for our veterans and their spouses who dream of having a family.” | Military.com >>

Afghanistan

The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan urged Americans to be vigilant Thursday after an attempt was made to kidnap a U.S. citizen and other expatriates in the Afghan capital. In an “emergency message” posted on the website of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, officials said an attempted kidnapping targeted foreigners in the city on Monday. | CNN >>

Al-Qaida is working more closely with the Taliban in Afghanistan, raising concern that the militant group could bolster the fight against Afghan government forces, a spokesman for the U.S.-NATO mission said Thursday. | Military Times >>

The monthlong lull in fighting followed weeks of intense combat between Taliban and Afghan forces that left “a sizeable portion” of Helmand, mostly in its northern region,contested or under Taliban control, Cleveland said. The lull allowed the Afghan army’s 215th Corps time to retrain under the watch of about 700 to 800 American troops. | Stars and Stripes >>

Iraq

Defeating the extremist group, which has captured a swath of Iraqi territory, “requires all sides to forget about disagreements and support our heroes in the fight to liberate the land of Iraq,” Mr. Abadi said Wednesday. His message was echoed by Iraqi President Fuad Masum, who said in a televised address that Iraq “faces threats requiring all political blocs and authorities to address.” | The Wall Street Journal >>

When Iraqi government forces backed by U.S.-led warplanes wrested this city from Islamic State militants after eight months of IS control, it was heralded as a major victory. But the cost of winning Ramadi has been the city itself. | The Associated Press >>

“They destroyed my car, they blew up my church on front of me,” he explained in a conversation with FOX40 before his speech at the church. “I got shot by AK-47 in my leg. The bullet is still in my leg. And I been kidnapped for nine days. They smash my nose and my teeth by hammer. And they broke one of my back discs.” | FOX 40 >>

Military Affairs

The United States Navy is powering an entire carrier battle group on a blended biofuel mixture. The so-called “Great Green Fleet” is meant to promote the use of alternatives to fossil fuels—in this case, beef fat. | Popular Mechanics >>

Chances are there won’t be any genuinely new helicopters entering the force until after 2030 — and at the rate they are likely to be bought, Black Hawk will still be supporting warfighters come 2050. That wouldn’t even make it the oldest rotorcraft in the joint fleet; Army leaders have intimated that Boeing’s heavy-lift CH-47 Chinook cargo helicopter may see a full century of service | Forbes >>

Since aerial combat first evolved in World War I, it’s taken on a familiar form: scouts that find targets, fighters that attack other planes, and big heavy bombers that unload hell onto the ground below. Despite a century of improvement, it is roughly the same now, with some more specialized aircraft. | Popular Science >>

#VETSRISING

When life gets tough, turn to others to help you through, Pelham told his 238 fellow graduates. That’s what has helped his severe post traumatic stress disorder, and what he did at MCC, especially following his cancer diagnosis. | MLive Muskegon Chronicle >>

Medically retired Army Staff Sgt. Randi Gavell hopes to do the Army and American team proud in track and field and swimming at the 2016 Invictus Games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. | Department of Defense >>

Bleeding profusely in a medic’s arms, 19-year-old U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Brian Vargas felt his life slipping away. It was Jan. 17, 2007, in Iraq’s Triangle of Death, and enemy gunfire during a rooftop battle had exploded a 500-round ammunition drum near Vargas, blasting him backward onto his head and peppering his body with shrapnel. A bullet hole was in his left hand, a deep gash in his right cheek. | Berkley News >>

Inside Washington

Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald warned this week that House appropriators’ plan to trim $1.5 billion off his department’s annual budget request will “hurt veterans” if it becomes law. | Military Times >>

The Pentagon is asking members of Congress to limit their trips to Afghanistan over the next few months as the Taliban prepares to ramp up its attacks during the summer fighting season. | Politico >> 

Michelle Obama said Thursday that the next White House occupant should continue to make a “national priority” of supporting service members, veterans and their families, as she has tried to do with a nationwide initiative marking its fifth anniversary. | The Associated Press >>

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