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IAVA Daily News Brief – September 29, 2015

Army Spc. Conner Cota, a native of Hallsville, Mo., assigned to E Company, 6th Brigade Engineer Battalion, descends while conducting helicopter jump training over Malemute drop zone, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. | Military Times >>

Army Spc. Conner Cota, a native of Hallsville, Mo., assigned to E Company, 6th Brigade Engineer Battalion, descends while conducting helicopter jump training over Malemute drop zone, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. | Military Times >>

 

Today’s Top Stories

Senators press VA on Agent Orange benefits
Senators pressed the Department of Veterans Affairs on Tuesday to expand benefits for Vietnam veterans and conduct more research on the effects of Agent Orange. “This nation needs to understand with passion and urgency the importance of this issue,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). “It affects veterans of every era. | The Hill >>

Report: VA executives misused reimbursement programs
Senior executives with the Department of Veterans Affairs misused interoffice moves to bump up their pay while reducing their job responsibilities, including one case in which a senior official received almost $300,000 in questionable reimbursements, investigators said in a new report released Monday. | Military Times >>

Congress moving toward deal to finish Denver VA hospital
Congress could wrap up an agreement by Wednesday that finally clears the way to finish an over-budget medical center outside Denver after months of wrangling and recriminations. | Associated Press >>

Afghanistan

Afghan forces backed by a U.S. airstrike launched a “large-scale operation” to rout the Taliban from a key city after militants seized a provincial capital in a stunning setback for the Western-backed government. | NBC News >>

A coordinated Taliban assault on the northern Afghan city of Kunduz on Monday dealt a setback to the Western-backed government in Kabul. As The Washington Post’s Tim Craig reports, the fight to regain control of the key city will become one of the Afghan military’s “biggest tests” in the 14-year battle against the Taliban. | Washington Post >>

A medical center on the combat frontier in Afghanistan is under the management of U.S. Airmen, the Air Force announced on Monday. The operation is part of the 55th Expeditionary Wing’s mission to provide advanced medical care where personnel are still stationed in Afghanistan. | UPI >>

Iraq

Clashes between Turkish security forces and autonomy-seeking Kurdish rebels have claimed nearly 60 lives in the southeast and across the border in northern Iraq, officials said Tuesday. | Associated Press >>

U.S. officials sought on Monday to play down the scale and significance of Iraq’s expanded security cooperation with Russia and Syria, saying a new intelligence cell launched by American adversaries in Baghdad would have little effect on U.S. operations against the Islamic State. | Washington Post >>

A summer of stalemate in the effort to reclaim the Iraqi provincial capital of Ramadi, despite U.S.-backed Iraqi troops vastly outnumbering Islamic State fighters, calls into question not only Iraq’s ability to win a test of wills over key territory but also the future direction of Washington’s approach to defeating the extremist group. | Associated Press >>

Military Affairs

It’s back to the drawing board for the next Navy recruiting slogan. A year ago, the Navy dumped its unpopular “A global force for good” tagline after distancing itself from it. Now the hunt is on for new slogans to go with the branding, “America’s Navy.” This search inspired the Navy Times contest where readers submitted their ideas and later voted on them. | Navy Times >>

The Army-Navy Game will be played in Philadelphia this season, in Baltimore in 2016 and back in Philly again in 2017. After 2017, it remains uncertain just where college football’s best rivalry game will be played. | NBC Sports >>

A bell clanged and two cadets in boxing gloves surged from their corners in a gym at the United States Military Academy last week, throwing jabs and uppercuts while other cadets yelled “Keep working him!” and “Use the hook!” | New York Times >>

#VetsRising

Returning and homeless veterans will find help from local organizations, service providers and employers who will gather for the third annual Michiana Military Stand Down from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday in the area off of Western Avenue between Four Winds Field and the Veterans Affairs Clinic. | South Bend Tribune >>

Long after their military service has ended, some veterans like Thomas Rierdon, 53, of Fern Creek still struggle with aftereffects, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and panic attacks. But the presence of a four-legged, fuzzy friend can make life more bearable, some say. | The Courier-Journal >>

As an occupational therapist and parent of three special needs children, Reno’s Joe Evans has seen first-hand the great things that happen when horses and children come together. As a Desert Storm veteran who suffered a traumatic brain injury, he also knows first-hand the therapeutic benefits of working with horses himself. | Reno Gazette-Journal >>

Inside Washington

The Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act, which passed on voice vote, would give 104 hours of sick leave up front to first-year feds who are vets with a service-connected disability rating of at least 30 percent to attend medical appointments related to their disability. | Government Executive >>

Last month, the Department of Veterans Affairs experienced a 72.8% decline in veterans whose protected health information was affected by a health data breach, according to VA’s August report to Congress, Health IT Security reports. | iHealthBeat >>

The House appeared to be working toward a deal Monday on a short-term continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown Wednesday while preparing contingencies to make sure that the troops continue to get paid in the event that negotiations break down. | Military.com >>

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