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IAVA Daily News Brief – October 16, 2015

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Jessi, a service dog in training with the Warrior Canine Connection, can finally relax on the AUSA show floor as the 2015 show wrapped up. | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

Obama Announces Halt of U.S. Troop Withdrawal in Afghanistan
The United States will halt its military withdrawal from Afghanistan and instead keep thousands of troops in the country through the end of his term in 2017, President Obama announced on Thursday, prolonging the American role in a war that has now stretched on for 14 years. | New York Times >>

Congress Investigating Funding Abuses By 2 VA Execs
Congress is investigating Diana Rubens and Kimberly Graves, two senior Department of Veterans Affairs executives, for what lawmakers are calling “a shockingly unethical use of funds” — in what has become an all-too-common issue within the agency. | Task & Purpose >>

Department of Veterans Affairs names new regional health director
The Department of Veterans Affairs has named a new health-care director to oversee the Phoenix VA hospital and other facilities in the Southwest, but she arrives with baggage. Skye McDougall was accused of giving false testimony to Congress when she discussed patient wait times during a hearing this spring. | The Arizona Republic >>

Afghanistan

For his bravery, Groberg will become the tenth living recipient of the Medal of Honor for service in Afghanistan, the White House announced Wednesday. He will join two other recent recipients who served with the division’s 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in Afghanistan. A medal ceremony with President Barack Obama is planned for Nov. 12. Staff Sgt. Ty Carter and Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha received the award in 2013. | Stars and Stripes >>

At least 19 Afghan border police officers were killed when Taliban fighters overran their posts in Nawzad district of the southern province of Helmand, police have told the BBC. Officers said the insurgents overran three police checkpoints and that five policemen were missing in addition to those killed. | BBC News >>

These 15-year-olds are both students at the Tanweer School in Kabul, Afghanistan. It’s a private K-12 school in a lower middle class neighborhood on the south side of the city. Their very presence in school is a sign of the progress girls are making in Afghanistan. | New England Public Radio >>

Iraq

This week, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that a cholera outbreak is rippling across Iraq. Since the outbreak started last month, more than 1,200 cases have been confirmed in 15 of the country’s 18 provinces. | Popular Science >>

In Erbil today, the United Nations Envoy for Iraq discussed concerns about the recent political tension and violence in the Kurdistan region with political party leaders and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). | UN News Centre >>

Iraqi forces and Shi’ite militia fighters recaptured most of the country’s largest oil refinery from Islamic State militants on Thursday, security officials said. The report could not be independently confirmed because it is too dangerous for journalists to enter the battle zone around the refinery near the town of Baiji, about 190 km (120 miles) north of Baghdad. | Reuters >>

Military Affairs

Throughout history, American speech has adopted thousands of soldier-coined slang into everyday language. Speech, much like the world, is in a constant state of flux. The way that wars alter the world, they also modify the way we speak and redefine the way we think. As troops have invaded nations, slang too has invaded our vernacular. | Task & Purpose >>

Sorry, pilots, your flight suits may not be exclusive for much longer. Crewmembers aboard this guided-missile destroyer are testing new flame-resistant “flyers coveralls” as part of a Navy trial of new working uniforms at sea. Although blue instead of green, they otherwise resemble the jumpsuits worn by aviators. As of last month, they were earning positive reviews. | Stars and Stripes >>

The Army’s plan to modernize its combat vehicles fleet in the near-term looks to acquire a new lightweight vehicle for infantry brigade combat teams and increase the lethality of its Strykers, according to the service’s brand new combat vehicle modernization strategy. | Defense News >>

#VetsRising

One former U.S. Congressman has said he’s “had enough,” and is walking and biking from his home in Michigan to Washington, D.C., to raise awareness for veterans. Bentivolio is a veteran of the Vietnam War, and also served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, where he suffered a broken neck. In his dealings with Veterans Affairs, he said his medical records were mishandled multiple times, but others he knew had it much worse. | WHAG >>

After making an emotional plea for the return of his beloved support dog, Twix, hundreds have rallied around a disabled Army veteran looking to bring Twix home. “It’s completely shocking,” said 25-year-old John Silva after he was contacted over a 24-hour span by dozens of people willing to give up their time to help search for his missing 4-year-old pit bull. “I never thought in a million years that a missing dog would bring so many people together to help a complete stranger.” | San Bernardino Sun >>

Lawrence has been a very active member in the Southeast Queens community. Born and raised in the area by his mother and grandmother, Lawrence is a veteran of the U.S. Army, which he served for eight years, and a former member of New York City law enforcement. While he’s always had the desire to pursue something that would help people, Lawrence recently found himself having to take time away from his work because of his own illness. | Queens Tribune >>

Inside Washington

Two weeks ago, the House and Senate veterans affairs committees quietly allowed a provision of the Agent Orange Act of 1991 to expire. How significant that will be for Vietnam veterans and their benefits is disputed. Committee staff and the Department of Veterans Affairs agree the change has not impacted the VA secretary’s authority to decide to expand the list of diseases presumed connected to wartime herbicide exposure. | Stars and Stripes >>

Sen. Bernie Sanders touted his record on veterans’ issues during Tuesday’s debate, citing his position as the former chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs when Congress provided billions of extra dollars to boost healthcare for veterans last year. | CNN >>

Toward the end of Tuesday night’s Democratic debate in Las Vegas, CNN moderator Anderson Cooper asked the candidates which enemy they had made of whom they were most proud. Four candidates listed Washington interest groups, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton threw in “Iranians” and “Republicans.” But Mr. Webb, a decorated Marine veteran of the Vietnam War, said, “I’d have to say the enemy soldier that threw the grenade that wounded me, but he’s not around right now to talk to.” | Wall Street Journal >>

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