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IAVA Daily News Brief – October 15, 2015

Sailors assigned to USS Constitution perform a War of 1812-era long gun drill in Charlestown Navy Yard as part of Constitution's weekend festivities celebrating the U.S, Navy's 240th birthday. | Military Times >>

Sailors assigned to USS Constitution perform a War of 1812-era long gun drill in Charlestown Navy Yard as part of Constitution’s weekend festivities celebrating the U.S, Navy’s 240th birthday. | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

Democratic debate: Presidential hopefuls spar over Syria, Iraq
Foreign policy played a major role in the first debate featuring the Democratic presidential candidates on Tuesday night, with the hopefuls sparring with frontrunner Hillary Clinton over Iraq, Syria and the use of military force. | Military Times >>

Veteran Suicide in America: An Unspeakable Epidemic
There are 36,000 suicides in the United States each year. That’s almost 100 a day. Veterans make up 22 of those daily suicides, and that number has continued to increase over the past ten years. The veteran population is 23 million (7 percent of the population). If you are a veteran, you have a three times greater risk of suicide than the average citizen. Women veterans have a three times greater risk of suicide than their veteran men counterparts. It is time to speak about this unspeakable epidemic. | Military.com >>

Obama Is Rethinking Pullout in Afghanistan, Officials Say
With pressure building on the White House to slow or completely halt the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, senior officials said that President Obama appears increasingly willing to keep a force there large enough to carry on the hunt for Al Qaeda and Islamic State militants. | New York Times >>

Afghanistan

With the announced withdrawal of Taliban fighters from Afghanistan’s northern city of Kunduz, the extent of the loss and devastation is emerging along with the exit of many thousands from the region. All 16 humanitarian agencies in Kunduz — a strategic northern capital — closed their offices and relocated staff when the city was stormed. | ABC Online >>

The Defense Department on Tuesday identified the two U.S. airmen who were among five killed Sunday when a British helicopter crashed at a NATO base in Kabul, Afghanistan. | Stars and Stripes >>

Doctors Without Borders says the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission has formally asked the United States and Afghanistan to authorize an investigation into U.S. airstrikes on an Afghan hospital that killed 12 staffers and 10 patients on Oct. 3. | Fox News >>

Iraq

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday Moscow was assisting in the fight against Islamist insurgents in Iraq with the consent of the Baghdad government. Lavrov, speaking at the Barents Euro-Arctic Council in Oulu, Finland, also said Russia’s invitation to join an intelligence center in Baghdad staffed by Russian, Iraqi, Iranian and Syrian officials remained open to all interested parties. | Reuters >>

Online investigations suggest ISIS and the Kurdish-group the PKK are the most likely groups to have been involved in the deadly blasts in Turkey’s capital, according to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. | CNN >>

After months of preliminary skirmishes and hundreds of U.S. airstrikes, conditions are now right for Iraq to launch a decisive assault on Ramadi and reclaim the provincial capital from Islamic State fighters, a U.S. military official said Tuesday. | CBS News >>

Military Affairs

When it came to conducting exercises to practice for the defense of Europe, the U.S. Army couldn’t have done the last five without combat engineers from Alabama and Tennessee. “We had five annual training rotations of Alabama Guardsmen in Romania this summer,” U.S. Army Europe Commander Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges said Tuesday at the Association of the United States Army’s annual meeting. | Military.com >>

In World War II, it is said that war dogs saved 15,000 men. In Vietnam, the dogs were credited with saving the lives of 10,000 men, but many handlers who served there feel that this number is grossly underestimated. Of approximately 87,000 missions, the dogs uncovered 2,000 tunnels and bunkers and enabled 1,000 enemy captures and 4,000 enemy kills. How big that number will be many years from now, when we are in a position to tally the lives saved by dogs in Iraq and Afghanistan, one cannot say. | Task & Purpose >>

The Navy’s top officer said Tuesday the service is considering extending paternity leave for new fathers. The Navy currently awards married fathers up to 10 days of paid leave upon the birth of a child. In July, the Navy tripled paid maternity leave for female sailors and Marines to 18 weeks. | Associated Press >>

#VetsRising

Pat Tillman found a calling he couldn’t resist when he decided to leave his successful NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals to enlist in the Army. UCLA medical student Daniel Ybarra found his calling as well while serving in the Navy as a medical corpsman in Iraq. Now, thanks to the legacy that Tillman left behind after his tragic death in Afghanistan from friendly fire, Ybarra will be able to give back to veterans and repay the debt of gratitude he feels he owes. | UCLA Newsroom >>

While receiving treatment at the VA, doctors suggested Foltz get a service dog to help with some of his lingering issues. That’s when Foltz came upon an organization called “K9s for Warriors” based out of Northeast Florida. “K9’s for Warriors” is a non-profit that provides a service dog, along with a 21-day training program to those vets in need, vets like Foltz. “I might be dead, God’s honest truth,” said Foltz. “I know of many vets whose dogs saved their lives.” | Fox 13 News >>

A Macalester College student is getting noticed for inventing something to help people suffering from night terrors. His inspiration? His father, an Iraq War vet, struggles with the terrors. | KARE 11 >>

Inside Washington

For Vietnam vet and presidential candidate Jim Webb, talk of his military service made for a poignant and awkward moment Tuesday night during the first Democratic debate. CNN moderator Anderson Cooper asked candidates what enemies they are most proud of making over their careers – a question seemingly aimed at political enemies. The others mentioned Iran, the National Rifle Association and the coal industry, but Webb went to his experience as an infantry Marine in Vietnam. | Stars and Stripes >>

But one thing you probably did know: Farming is not for the faint of heart. It is hard work, unpredictable. And young Americans are increasingly opting out. So where does the U.S. Department of Agriculture go to find that rare breed of practical, no-nonsense, get-the-job-done-type person needed to fill the shoes of retiring farmers? Try the growing cadre of unemployed veterans coming out of more than a decade of war with military skills that don’t necessarily translate into civilian jobs. | The Virginian-Pilot >>

Aside from a few key personnel changes at the top, there has not been much news out of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Information and Technology since LaVerne Council took over in July. But things haven’t exactly been quiet, either. | FCW >>

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