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IAVA Daily News Brief – September 24, 2015

Airmen assigned to the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron complete preflight inspections on a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. | Military Times >>

Airmen assigned to the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron complete preflight inspections on a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

VA officials used whistleblower medical records for smear campaign, lawmakers told
Veterans Affairs officials illegally accessed whistleblower medical records to engage in a smear campaign aimed at covering up fatally lax medical care, according to testimony Tuesday at a U.S. Senate committee hearing. | Washington Times >>

VA watchdog shelves 36,000 complaints, draws ire from whistleblowers
The chief watchdog at the Department of Veterans Affairs investigates less than 10 percent of the nearly 40,000 complaints it receives annually about problems at the agency, even when they concern potential harm to veteran health, Deputy Inspector General Linda Halliday said Tuesday. | USA Today >>

NBC Reveals True Cost Of VA TBI Scandal
Monday night, NBC captured the true cost of the VA TBI scandal at Minneapolis VA on film that almost led to one veteran’s divorce and near suicide due to his negligent TBI diagnosis. Minneapolis VA, home to one of VA’s few polytrauma clinics, is also home to a growing scandal where VA was caught defrauding veterans of health care benefits. | Disabled Veterans >>

Afghanistan

Insurgents in Afghanistan have killed a Georgian soldier in an attack on NATO forces near a major U.S. air base, NATO and Georgian officials said on Wednesday, a relatively rare death of a foreign soldier since most withdrew last year. | Reuters >>

As the Obama administration plans to finally close the book on the long and tragic U.S. military presence in Afghanistan by December 2016, we’re beginning to see tallies of the amount of American blood and treasure expended there over the past 14 years. | The Fiscal Times >>

An Iraqi man accused of being an al Qaeda commander in Afghanistan was lectured by a military judge for firing his defense attorneys on Tuesday, a move that will further postpone his trial at the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba. | Reuters >>

Iraq

Iraq’s first major cholera outbreak since 2012 has risen to at least 121 cases and spread to southern provinces along the Euphrates River, though no new deaths have been reported in days, the health ministry said on Wednesday. | Reuters >>

A German army chief in the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq was found dead in his hotel room there Wednesday, officials said. Colonel Stephan Spoettel was found dead at 8:50 a.m. local time (1:50 a.m. ET) in the Cristal Erbil Hotel in the northern Kurdish city of Irbil, the German armed forces said in a statement. | NBC News >>

The Pentagon said Tuesday that coalition forces killed a senior leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Turkmani, in an airstrike two weeks ago in northern Iraq. A Pentagon spokesman, Peter Cook, described Mr. Turkmani as an “administrative emir” of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, and a close associate of the group’s leaders. | New York Times >>

Military Affairs

With key U.S. allies the targets of this aggression, Marine Corps leaders in the Asia-Pacific region say their greatest priority is preserving stability. And as tensions rise, the service is forging ahead with several big moves that will eventually place nearly 15 percent of the service’s personnel in Hawaii and beyond. | Marine Corps Times >>

The lovable legend of Yogi Berra, that ain’t ever gonna be over. The Hall of Fame catcher renowned as much for his dizzying malapropisms as his unmatched 10 World Series championships with the New York Yankees, died Tuesday. He was 90. Berra, who served as a sailor in World War II, received the Navy’s Lone Sailor Award in 2009. An announcement from the Navy Memorial at the time said he exemplified the Navy’s core values. | Associated Press >>

Taking a page from the 2006 self-help book The Secret, the United States Air Force believes saying good things about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will make them come true. In an eight-page For Official Use Only (FOUO) memo to its public affairs offices, the Air Force gives detailed instructions on how to say only nice things about the troubled weapons system. | We Are The Mighty >>

#VetsRising

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is calling U.S. military veterans back into service for a new type of mission. Cuomo is unveiling a plan to recruit veterans from across New York to help newly arrived immigrants learn English and prepare for their naturalization exams. | Fox News >>

A new program aims to pair veterans in need of a service dog with dogs in need of new homes. Eric Wolfe, president of Freedom K9 rehab, is a veteran dog trainer and an Air Force veteran. He’s also the founder of Project 22. “Project 22 is saving vets and saving dogs and training shelter dogs that we get in here,” he said. | KPHO Tucson >>

Twenty-two veterans commit suicide in our country every day. Because of that tragic number, September 22 is Buddy Check Day, a day when you are encouraged to call veteran friends and family members and check on their mental well-being. | WREG 3 Memphis >>

Inside Washington

A congressman who is a combat veteran and Ranger graduate has asked the Pentagon’s top Army leader to produce documents related to the performance of the females who began Ranger School at Fort Benning, Georgia earlier this year, PEOPLE has learned. | People >>

Though most didn’t step foot in Vietnam, some 90,000 Navy vets who served offshore may have been exposed to the chemical brew and seek benefits. The battle is playing out in the courts and in Congress. It boils down to a comma. | Pacific Standard >>

The Department of Veterans Affairs continues to retaliate against whistleblowers despite repeated pledges to stop punishing those who speak up, a group of employees said Tuesday. One called the department’s office of inspector general a “joke.” | Associated Press >>

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