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IAVA Daily News Brief – November 17, 2014

Today’s Top Stories

Veteran’s suicide devastates those left behind
Rory Gavic was a young, decorated member of the military who served his country overseas twice, who had earned praise and the respect of his peers, who had volunteered as a Big Brother. His suicide in 2009 devastated his family, especially his mother. His death was the beginning of hers. | USA Today >>

Disability system for veterans strays far from its official purpose
The room fell silent for seven minutes as Illinois Rep. Tammy Duckworth upbraided a government contractor. “Shame on you,” the congresswoman scolded Braulio Castillo at an oversight hearing in Washington, D.C., last year, accusing the business owner of gaming the veterans disability system. | LA Times >>

Report: 600,000 vets wait for care
Despite Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald attesting to reduced wait times at VA hospitals and clinics, a new report obtained by USA Today shows that one in 10 patients continue to wait a month or longer for appointments. | MSNBC >>

Afghanistan 

Through three decades of war, waves of Afghans have fled their homes along the eastern border areas, many of them seeking shelter in the Pakistani tribal regions next door. Last summer another wave of refugees surged through the area. But in a reversal, it is Pakistanis, not Afghans, who are fleeing war at home. | NY Times >>

Untouched by Western journalists except in the presence of American troops, Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley was once the most violent part of the Afghan War. | The Daily Beast >>

A prominent female member of Afghanistan’s parliament survived what appeared to be a assassination attempt in Kabul on Sunday, authorities said. | TIME >>

Iraq

President Barack Obama confirmed in a statement Sunday that Islamic militants had killed an American aid worker. | Wall Street Journal >>

When the militants of the Islamic State entered the Sunni Arab area of Al Alam, they gave its tribal leaders a message of reconciliation: We are here to defend you and all the Sunnis, they said, so join us. But after a group of angry residents sneaked out one night, burned the jihadists’ black banners and raised Iraqi flags, the response was swift. | NY Times >>

Islamic State fighters began withdrawing from the area around the Baiji refinery in northern Iraq on Saturday, Iraqi officials said. The retreat would mark the end of the group’s month-long siege at a strategic oil installation and would be a significant victory for ­pro-government forces. | Washington Post >>

Militar Affairs

The Pentagon is launching a new effort to develop a high-tech force despite budget cuts. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel wants in inject fresh ideas into military planning. | Military Times >>

After 10 days of sea trials here, the differences between the F-35C Lightning II and its predecessors are becoming readily apparent as the plane is launched, trapped and maneuvered topside. | Navy Times >>

The Minnesota National Guard’s 34th Infantry Division headquarters and soldiers from 11 other states will deploy this spring to support U.S. Ebola response operations in West Africa, officials announced Sunday. | Army Times >>

New Greatest Generation

The imprint Ron Riveira’s grandparents made on his life has been indelible. Ron, a hospice nurse in California, served as a Navy corpsman and a medic in the Marines. His grandmother and grandfather — a Korean War vet — helped raise him. | NPR >>

Premer manages his post-traumatic stress disorder by growing food. About two years ago, he and his mother started a business, now called Dirtless Farm, growing microgreens, baby greens and culinary herbs for local restaurants. Premer had previously trained at Circle Fresh Farms in Denver, which is run by an ex-Marine, Buck Adams, who also founded the nonprofit Veterans to Farmers. | Newsweek >>

The recent Vanity Fair profile of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick provide deeper insight into the man whose confrontational style is often hard to unravel from the company he runs. But [Thursday night], when he was honored by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) in New York, it was the softer side of Kalanick on display. | Forbes >>

David Wood writes a blog for the Huffington Post: On this day, we pause to honor the 21.9 million living Americans who have served in uniform. We might also remember the estimated 8,000 veterans and 475 active duty, reserve and National Guard men and women who took their own lives last year in the ongoing tragedy of military and veteran suicide. | Huffington Post >>

Inside Washington

An influential veterans group is backing the underdog Democrat in the race for the ranking member slot on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee in the next Congress. The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) on Friday endorsed Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) over the more senior Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) in the race for top Democrat on the committee. | The Hill >>

The mother of a U.S. Marine who committed suicide in January, 2013 intends to sue the VA, accusing its doctors of prescribing the medication that he ultimately used to overdose. | Miami Herald >>

A host of educational benefits are available to those who have served in the United States armed forces, but figuring out which program a service member is eligible for can sometimes be a challenge. | NY Times >>

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