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IAVA Daily News Brief – October 26, 2015

Cmdr. Donald Tenney (right), commanding officer of the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine Albuquerque, stands on the bridge as the boat prepares to depart San Diego for the final time. Albuquerque held an inactivation ceremony at Naval Base Point Loma, marking the its final public event celebrating more than 32 years of service. | Military Times >>

Cmdr. Donald Tenney (right), commanding officer of the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine Albuquerque, stands on the bridge as the boat prepares to depart San Diego for the final time. Albuquerque held an inactivation ceremony at Naval Base Point Loma, marking the its final public event celebrating more than 32 years of service. | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

Murray calls for overhaul of VA Choice program
The former chairwoman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee wants to overhaul the VA Choice program — the initiative that lets veterans see private physicians if they can’t get an appointment at a VA medical center. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said veterans in her state continue to wait weeks or months for needed medical care, unable to make timely appointments at the VA or through the Choice program. | Military Times >>

9/11 bill to aid Ground Zero workers rapidly gaining support in Congress
All told, more than 1,700 people have died from 9/11-related illnesses, according to John Feal, a former demolition supervisor from eastern Long Island who has lobbied lawmakers to reauthorize the Ground Zero health legislation. One of the law’s key components, the World Trade Center Health Program, has enough money to continue operating until March or April. Without action by Congress, the program will begin notifying patients in January that they will lose services, Feal said. | USA Today >>

GI Bill overpayments leave veterans facing big debts
The Veterans Affairs Department is trying to recoup more than $200 million in overpayments that mistakenly went to veterans using GI Bill benefits to attend school, according to a government watchdog group. | Military Times >>

Afghanistan

President Obama recently announced the U.S. will keep 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through 2016 and 5,500 in 2017 in a “train and assist” role. But, the death of an American soldier on just such a mission in Iraq last week proves that these troops will not be out of harm’s way. | ABC News >>

Medical charity Doctors Without Borders says the number of people killed when their clinic in northern Afghanistan was bombed has risen to 30. The group said Sunday the toll includes “10 known patients, 13 known staff and seven unrecognizable bodies.” The Kunduz clinic was bombed by U.S. forces on Oct. 3. | Associated Press >>

A retired Army captain from Fort Carson set to receive the Medal of Honor next month said it will never truly be his. Capt. Florent “Flo” Groberg tackled a suspicious man who turned out to be a suicide bomber in Afghanistan on Aug. 8, 2012, while providing security for a group led by Fort Carson Brig. Gen. James Mingus. Four men were killed when a second bomber detonated his explosives, but the commander and the rest of his group, including Afghan officials, survived. | Associated Press >>

Iraq

A new video purports to show Thursday’s raid in Iraq in which dozens of ISIS hostages were freed and an American commando was killed. The video, exclusively obtained by NBC News from Jordan-based news outlet Arab24, was apparently taken on helmet cameras at a prison near the northern town of Hawija. Arab24 said it received the video from Kurdish military officials. | NBC News >>

Tony Blair has moved to prepare the ground for the publication of the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war by offering a qualified apology for the use of misleading intelligence and the failure to prepare for the aftermath of the invasion. | The Guardian >>

The United States and its allies carried out 16 air strikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria on Thursday, a military statement said. Fifteen air raids hit Islamic State fighters, weapons, buildings and other targets near seven cities in Iraq, including Mosul and Ramadi, the coalition said in a statement on Friday. | Reuters >>

Military Affairs

Military officials say they are continuing to crack down on misconduct by soldiers, despite complaints that “other than honorable” discharges are being used as part of a system to reduce ranks and save money because of budget cuts. | Associated Press >>

Army Secretary John McHugh was honored during a farewell ceremony Friday as he prepares to step down after more than six years as the service’s top civilian. “As secretary, John offered the Army a steady hand through four secretaries of defense and four Army chiefs,” said Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who hosted Friday’s farewell tribute at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia. | Army Times >>

Heroes forged in Afghanistan and Iraq are having their names bestowed on a new generation of warships, joining those whose exploits in World Wars and battles domestic and abroad earned them the distinction of having U.S. Navy vessels christened in their honor. | Associated Press >>

#VetsRising

Bringing thought-provoking and impactful contemporary theater to US soldiers. That’s the mission of Arts in the Armed Forces, a non-profit organization started by Marine-turned-actor Adam Driver (Girls, Star Wars: The Force Awakens). VICE News followed Driver and his fellow actors (including Joanne Tucker, Natasha Lyonne, Eric Bogosian, Peter Scolari, Sasheer Zamata, and many more) as they performed for military audiences in the US and overseas who are more accustomed to visits by country cover bands and the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. | VICE News >>

Outdoor recreation groups are taking that concept a step further, creating programs specifically geared to returning military veterans. Results of a study conducted at the University of Michigan for the Sierra Club Military Families and Veterans Initiative showed that post-military service participation in extended group outdoor recreation experiences are associated with a number of significant health benefits. | The Southern Illinoisan >>

More than 200 wounded war veterans are closing in on the finish line of a 516 mile bike ride along the coast. The 7-day United Healthcare Ride 2 Recovery California Challenge began in Sunnyvale on Sunday. Ride 2 Recovery started in 2008. The program uses cycling as a core therapy for veterans suffering from physical and mental injuries. | KEYT >>

Inside Washington

Two senators are asking the Obama administration for details on how it prevents federal employees from manipulating the hiring process. Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) sent letters Friday to Beth Cobert, acting director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and Denise Turner Roth, the administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA), over allegations that Department of Veterans Affairs employees used their positions for personal gain. | The Hill >>

A year after the Department of Veterans Affairs faced intense criticism over a healthcare waiting-list scandal, Hillary Clinton says recent efforts to speed treatment to veterans should be given a chance to work. But VA health reforms may need a “SWAT team” to ensure accountability, the former Secretary of State said in her first major interview since her marathon testimony Thursday before a U.S. House committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi attack. | Forbes >>

The Government Accountability Office on Thursday warned a House of Representatives panel on veterans’ health that a lack of oversight in ensuring veterans hospitals have the right number of professional and support staff to provide primary care may be putting patients at risk. | Military.com >>

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