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IAVA Daily News Brief – November 7, 2014

Today’s Top Stories

A Losing Battle: How the Army denies veterans justice without anyone knowing
An obscure Army panel is supposed to correct errors or remove injustices. Many believe it’s rigged. | Fusion >>

U.S. Veterans Affairs to seek more healthcare funds: secretary
The U.S. Veterans Affairs Department will seek further budget increases to deal with medical appointment backlogs and the mounting costs of caring for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, VA Secretary Bob McDonald said on Thursday. | Reuters >>

Secretary Defends the Lack of Firings of VA Leaders
Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald on Thursday hit back against critics of his handling of VA problems, saying some lawmakers are “trying to create controversy using veterans.” | Military.com >>

Afghanistan 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday reaffirmed the alliance’s commitment to stabilizing Afghanistan and ensuring that the gains made are preserved after the foreign combat mission ends in 2014. | Reuters >>

Iran continues to provide “calibrated lethal aide to the Taliban” in Afghanistan to help the group conduct attacks on U.S. and Western security forces operating in the country, according to a new report published by the Pentagon. | Washington Free Beacon >>

Afghan troops are dying on the battlefield in unprecedented numbers after having taken over from NATO-led forces, and the death toll is “not sustainable,” a top US commander in Afghanistan said Wednesday. | Daily Mail >>

Iraq

Now that we are “at war with ISIS,” Congress passed a resolution to allow the Pentagon to “train and equip” Syrian “moderate” rebel forces. At the White House, the United Nations, and in speeches to the nation, President Obama has emphasized “training” of Syrian, Afghanistan and Iraqi troops to “degrade and destroy” ISIS, also called the Islamic State, as well as al Qaeda, Khorasan and other terrorist groups. | Washington Times >>

More than 600 American service members since 2003 have reported to military medical staff members that they believe they were exposed to chemical warfare agents in Iraq, but the Pentagon failed to recognize the scope of the reported cases or offer adequate tracking and treatment to those who may have been injured, defense officials say. | NY Times >>

A spike in IED attacks by the Islamic State group has prompted the Pentagon to ready its Joint IED Defeat Organization to train Iraqi security forces. | Washington Times >>

Military Affairs 

Ret. Col. Jack Jacobs, a recipient of the Medal of Honor, talks with Rachel Maddow about the cultural code among elite military members of “quiet professionalism” and the unseemly violation of that ethos by those seeking credit for killing Osama bin Laden. | MSNBC >>

The Army has amended “outdated” U.S. Army policy guidelines that said that the word “Negro” could be used to refer to African Americans in data on race and ethnicity, after the regulation surfaced in media reports Wednesday. | TIME >>

After almost 50 years in South Korea, the Army is deactivating the 2nd Infantry Division’s 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, officials announced Thursday. | Army Times >>

Members of the U.S. Navy Seal commando team that killed Osama bin Laden at his Pakistan hideout in May, 2011 are making conflicting claims as to who actually shot the al Qaeda leader. | Reuters >>

New Greatest Generation

Shad Meshad writes a blog for Huffington Post: Veterans Day is next Tuesday. Our nation has seen twelve years of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. The war has been present, but perhaps at a safe distance for those who haven’t had someone close to them in harm’s way. One thing is clear: it’s going to take all of us to bridge the civilian/military divide and completely reintegrate our warriors back into our society. | Huffington Post >>

A Navy veteran, Bailey lost the use of his left leg and left hand due to a spinal problem that developed three decades after his discharge. The Southern Arizona VA Health Care System referred Bailey to Heroes on Horses to help him rehabilitate from a 2002 spinal cord surgery. | Cronkite News >>

“24 veterans … 100 tattoos … 1,000 stories.” With nearly 2 million veterans in California and a generation of veterans returning home across the nation as 12 years of faraway combat winds down, the Contra Costa County Library in California is launching “War Ink,” an online exhibit of Iraq and Afghanistan veteran memorial tattoo art. | Army Times >>

Inside Washington

Republican leaders on Capitol Hill expect the defense portion of sequestration to be incrementally rolled back once the new Congress comes to session in 2015 even though Pentagon officials said Wednesday that they aren’t so confident. | Military.com >>

In mid-October, just two weeks before Election Day, a CBS News poll revealed the stark reality of Americans’ increasingly low opinion of the federal government. The Veterans Affairs Department was the lowest-rated agency on the list, with only 30 percent of Americans saying they believe VA does an “excellent” or “good” job. | Military Times >>

Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald said Thursday that the law didn’t specify when Choice Cards needed to be sent to veterans, despite criticism from some veterans groups that the department missed the 90 day deadline. | Washington Times >>

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