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IAVA Daily News Brief – November 4, 2015

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U.S. Marines, sailors and guests honor the American and Navy flags during the christening of the destroyer Rafael Peralta at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. The destroyer was named after Marine Corps Sgt. Rafael Peralta, who was killed during the second battle of Fallujah in 2004. | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

VA officials dodge questions over relocation bonuses
House Veterans Affairs Committee members on Monday evening finally got the five VA witnesses they demanded last month, but they didn’t get many new answers on the department’s ongoing relocation bonus scandal. | Military Times >>

Congress reaches deal to cut $5 billion from defense budget
The House and Senate on Tuesday finalized a plan to squeeze $5 billion from defense spending as part of a broader budget deal that heads off possible pay freezes and furloughs. | Stars and Stripes >>

VA team blasts Phoenix personnel office
A task force sent by the Department of Veterans Affairs headquarters to launch reforms at the Phoenix VA medical center wound up being stymied and sent away by local hospital leaders this year, according to internal records obtained by The Arizona Republic. | Arizona Republic >>

Afghanistan

China says it does not seek to fill a void left by a drawdown of most foreign troops in Afghanistan at the end of last year, but has promised to play a “huge” commercial role in helping rebuild the country, where the Taliban seek to re-establish their Islamist regime. | Reuters >>

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sought on Tuesday to reassure the rulers of Tajikistan and Turkmenistan that Washington remained committed to Central Asia’s security, even though it is withdrawing troops from neighboring Afghanistan. | Reuters >>

If there had been grumbling before about the deafening intrusion of low-flying American helicopters in the Afghan capital, the discontent has surely multiplied along with the number of flights: packs of them now, coming two, four, six at a time, starting around 7 a.m., then again at midday and at dusk. | New York Times >>

Iraq

Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi politician who from exile helped persuade the United States to invade Iraq in 2003, and then unsuccessfully tried to attain power as his country was nearly torn apart by sectarian violence, died on Tuesday at his home in Baghdad. He was 71. | New York Times >>

Turkish jets launched a new series of airstrikes on Kurdish militants in northern Iraq, the first indication that the government is pressing ahead with its military campaign against them as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s allies in parliament prepare to reclaim one-party rule. | Wall Street Journal >>

The World Health Organization (WHO) has mobilized 510,000 dozes of oral cholera vaccine (OCV) to be administered to an estimated 250,000 displaced persons in Iraq, in an effort to curtail the cholera outbreak which is now feared to be spreading to neighbouring countries. | UN News Centre >>

Military Affairs

About 140,000 departing soldiers received Army transition services in the past year, but many of them may have unrealistic expectations of what they can earn in the civilian sector, according to Walter Herd, director of the Soldier for Life-Transition Assistance Program. | Army Times >>

U.S. Army researchers are moving into Los Angeles’ sprouting technology hub in Playa Vista, aiming to make what will become their largest outpost outside Maryland into a key source of ideas on data analysis, robotics and virtual reality. | LA Times >>

The U.S. Navy plans to conduct patrols within 12 nautical miles of artificial islands in the South China Sea about twice a quarter to remind China and other countries about U.S. rights under international law, a U.S. defense official said on Monday. | Reuters >>

#VetsRising

Two heroes of the French train attack gathered at the Los Angeles studio to watch a ‘Dancing with the Stars’ performance starring one of their own, the third hero Army Spc. Alek Skarlatos. | Air Force Times >>

When he got out of the Marine Corps, Tom Jones found a second career in cooking. Chef Tom Jones didn’t grow up wanting to study culinary arts. In fact, he hadn’t learned much about cooking at all prior to enrolling at New York’s International Culinary Center in 1998. | Task & Purpose >>

At first she says transitioning back to civilian life took a little getting used to. “Sometimes it’s hard. It’s difficult to watch movies, especially very realistic movies is kind of difficult. And I find a lot of veterans are suffering from PTSD.” Today Tsahalis serves her patients as a physician assistant at Mount Sinai Brooklyn. Although not a patient, one person she looks after is fellow Veteran Rocco Moretto. | PIX 11 >>

Inside Washington

A fundraising dinner and silent auction will be held Friday in the Washington, D.C., area to benefit Afghan and Iraqi combat interpreters who are resettling in the United States.These men and women who served alongside U.S. forces in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan have gone through extensive national security screening by the State Department to receive special immigrant visas to come to the U.S. | Military Times >>

But “Good morning America” has learned some of these tear-jerking moments honoring American heroes are paid acts of patriotism. The Pentagon buying on-field opportunities for military men and women to carry that giant flag at this Buffalo bills game. Sing the national anthem at this Boston Bruins game, even throw out the first pitch at three Milwaukee brewers games. | ABC News >>

The psychiatrist at the center of a prescription drug scandal at the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Wisconsin, was fired without any settlement or negotiation, VA officials said Monday. | Military Times >>

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