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IAVA Daily News Brief – November 30, 2015

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The 10th Mountain Division Soldiers play a 3-on-3 basketball tournament at TB Gamberi. Twelve teams signed up for the Thanksgiving Basketball Tournament to celebrate Thanksgiving while building esprit de corps and camaraderie. | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

Military Update: Congress, beneficiary groups prepare for health reforms
After months of consideration, Congress rejected both paths for the 9.5 million military health care beneficiaries. Instead, the big legislative lift for 2015 was an overhaul of military retirement for future generations. Now eyeing 2016, the chairmen of the House and Senate armed services committees promise to begin to reform the $50 billion military health system. Their staffs have begun doing groundwork. | Colorado Springs Gazette >>

First family visits D.C. shelter, highlights homeless veterans’ plight
President Obama, joined by his wife and daughters, served Thanksgiving dinner in a D.C. shelter Wednesday to highlight the administration’s efforts to end homelessness among U.S veterans. | Washington Post >>

Tomah VA Medical Center launches 100-day improvement plan
The Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center has adopted another plan to improve patient care at the troubled facility. The release of the 100-day plan on Friday came almost 11 months after reports surfaced that veterans at the center were prescribed excessive doses of opioid pain-killers and that employees who spoke out faced retaliation from top officials, the La Crosse Tribune reported Saturday. | Associated Press >>

Afghanistan

Human error was the primary cause of the airstrike that killed 30 people last month at a hospital in northern Afghanistan, Army Gen. John Campbell announced Wednesday. | USA Today >>

Long-term progress in reducing the number of landmine casualties was reversed last year, and rebel groups used the mines in 10 countries, the largest number since 2006, researchers said on Thursday. Non-state groups were still using the deadly devices in the 12 months to October 2015 in Colombia, Libya, Myanmar, Pakistan, Syria and Yemen, and in Afghanistan, where there was a sharp increase in casualties from improvised explosive devices (IEDs). | Reuters >>

Long lines of American servicemembers arriving for a Thanksgiving meal at dining halls here on Thursday were greeted by surreal scenes of eagle-shaped ice sculptures, dioramas of Pilgrims and Native Americans and contractors in turkey costumes. | Stars and Stripes >>

Iraq

A booby-trapped mass grave containing the bodies of at least 110 people from the minority Yazidi sect has been found in northern Iraq, officials say. The grave was found close to the town of Sinjar after it was recaptured from the so-called Islamic State (IS) group earlier in November. | BBC News >>

Iraqi troops closing in on Ramadi outnumber Islamic State militants by as many as 10 to one, a U.S. official told Military Times on Friday. The offensive to wrest back control of the city involves between 8,000 and 10,000 Iraqi security forces, said Army Col. Steve Warren, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition overseeing the fight against the Islamic State group. | Military Times >>

Two senior U.S. senators called on Sunday for Washington to nearly triple military force levels in Iraq to 10,000 and send an equal number of troops to Syria as part of a multinational ground force to counter Islamic State in both countries. | Reuters >>

Military Affairs

U.S. Military Academy officials said Wednesday they have banned the annual pillow fight by first-year cadets after a bloody clash between “plebes” this summer at West Point left 30 injured, including 24 diagnosed with concussions. | USA Today >>

The National Museum of the Marine Corps is about to temporarily shut down for a massive reboot. The museum near Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, will close to the public from Jan. 4 through March 31 as it enters the next phase of its seven-year, $100 million update. New exhibits will showcase the history of the Marine Corps from 1976 to the present. | Marine Corps Times >>

The College Football Playoff selection committee no longer needs to worry about the results of the Army-Navy game to fill out its New Year’s Six bowl bids. Instead, it has to figure out who should replace Navy as the highest-ranked team from the Group of 5 (American Athletic, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West and Sun Belt). | ESPN >>

#VetsRising

Don’t shop from a company because a veteran owns it — shop there because you’re getting a great product that you know will make Santa look good. With that in mind, here are some of our favorite military-grade, veteran-made gift ideas for the upcoming holidays. | Military Times >>

A program to help area wounded warriors is growing. It’s now once a week, service members swim with the whale sharks and the manta rays at the Georgia Aquarium. Many say the experience brings them a peace they haven’t found in a long time, including one of the aquarium’s dive instructors. | WSB Atlanta >>

After serving two combat tours of duty in Afghanistan, Heine has learned to get rest when he can. And while Spike the bomb dog is used to more action — such as protecting a platoon of soldiers from deadly explosives — he is no less committed on this day to his new mission: being a best friend to Heine — a 26-year-old wounded warrior with post-traumatic stress disorder — as he tries to navigate the minefield of expectations, insecurities and opportunities that the inspirational story of his search for, and reunion with, Spike has created. | Richmond Times-Dispatch >>

Inside Washington

The nonprofit responsible for placing wreaths on 230,000 headstones at Arlington National Cemetery expects to be 30,000 wreaths short this year due to a lack of funding. | Washington Times >>

Several Senate leaders, including Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., are squaring off with each other and the Obama administration over the conduct of University of Phoenix and other for-profit schools, and the response of the federal government. | The Arizona Republic >>

In Washington, D.C., President Obama signed a bipartisan bill into law on Wednesday for the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) mandating military working dogs to be returned to United States soil upon retirement, and “that their human handlers and their families – to whom these dogs mean more than anyone else –will be given first right of adoption,” stated a press release from the American Humane Association. | The Examiner >>

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