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IAVA Daily News Brief – Thursday, August 6, 2015

CoastGuardBoston

The Coast Guard’s latest 418-foot National Security Cutter James pulls into Boston Harbor. The James is the fifth of eight planned National Security Cutters – the largest and most technologically advanced class of cutters in the Coast Guard’s fleet. | Military Times >>

 

TODAY’S TOP STORIES

Mindfulness-based therapy eases veterans’ PTSD symptoms
Some veterans may experience a sharper decline in symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with mindfulness-based stress reduction therapy than with other forms of group treatment, a study suggests. Researchers gave one group of veterans with PTSD eight weekly 2.5-hour sessions focused on mindfulness and meditation, as well as a day-long retreat, and compared their progress to their peers who received nine weekly 1.5-hour group sessions designed to address specific problems stemming from PTSD in daily life. | Reuters >>

VA Launches New No-Cost Training Programs
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today launched two new no-cost training programs, Accelerated Learning Programs (ALPs) and VA Learning Hubs, to help transitioning Servicemembers and Veterans from all eras learn skills, earn credentials, and advance in civilian careers following separation from service. | Military.com >>

VA chief says progress made since 2014 Las Vegas visit
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald returned to Las Vegas Tuesday where he set goals a year ago to restore trust in an agency rocked by scandals. With an audience of a company that hires a relatively high percentage of veterans, he stopped short of grading himself on the goals he announced Aug. 9, 2014, saying, “Over the past year, we’ve made progress but we have more progress to make.” | Las Vegas Review-Journal >>

AFGHANISTAN

The war in Afghanistan is killing or wounding increasing numbers of civilians, with women and children showing the sharpest rise in casualties as it enters its 14th year, according to new figures from the UN. | The Guardian >>

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said Tuesday the death of Al Qaeda-linked leader Mullah Omar could drive Taliban fighters into the arms of ISIS – or to the negotiating table. | Fox News >>

In March, President Obama said he would slow the pace of the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. Initially the White House plan called for cutting the current force of 10,000 in half by 2016. But Obama backed away from that milestone and signaled some or all of those 10,000 might stay next year. | Military Times >>

IRAQ

About 2,550 soldiers with 10th Mountain Division will deploy in the next few months as part of Iraq and Afghanistan troop rotations, the Army announced Wednesday. The largest contingent will come from the division’s Fort Drum, New York-based 1st Brigade Combat Team, which will send about 1,250 soldiers to Iraq to support Operation Inherent Resolve, the military’s ongoing mission to counter the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. | Army Times >>

An Iraqi police official says a minibus loaded with explosives detonated on a crowded street in Baghdad, killing seven people, including two children. The explosion took place Wednesday in the predominantly Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City. The official says the bomb detonated near the district government office. At least 18 people were wounded in the attack, including four children. | Associated Press >>

An ominous photo that an American soldier took during the Iraq War is shaping up to be one of the conflict’s most iconic images for the members of one US Army squadron, according to two veterans writing in The New York Times. | Business Insider >>

MILITARY AFFAIRS

The Army intends to open all but one field artillery military occupation specialty – 13F fire support specialist – to female soldiers, a move that would cover 21,000 previously male-only jobs, a Pentagon spokesman said Tuesday. | Stars and Stripes >>

The Navy welcomed its “most lethal weapon” to the fleet Saturday as the attack submarine John Warner was commissioned before a crowd of 2,500. The 12th Virginia-class attack submarine, the Warner marks some notable firsts. | Navy Times >>

After a misstep, the Army now has the right tattoo policy in place, the service’s top officer told Army Times. “For me, I think we missed the boat initially on adjusting to societal norms with tattoos,” said Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno. “I think tattoos are something that are more common, and I think we have to realize and understand that, and we have to make sure we get the best people in our Army.” | Army Times >>

#VETSRISING

Pauley, 39, arrived Monday at George Dunne National, the challenging Cook County Forest Preserve course near Tinley Park, to speak at the World’s Largest Golf Outing. In its fifth year and created by Billy Casper Golf, which manages 26 Chicago-area facilities, the event encompassing 138 courses in 28 states is nearing its goal of raising $1 million for injured servicemen and women. | Chicago Tribune >>

Veterans are disproportionately represented in the public sector. There are good reasons why, and good effects from it. Any veteran who honorably finishes a term of military service, be that for four years or 20, has paid his or her dues to the country. In spite of this, many veterans, myself included, still find themselves in a public service job in some capacity. While many vets would prefer to never see the inside of a government building ever again, there are some compelling reasons to consider a job in government, be that federal, state, or local. | Task & Purpose >>

There is something profound in a soldier’s return home. To have traded at the very least their innocence for the idea of a greater good, many veterans struggle to heal wounds both mental and physical as they try to readjust to everyday life. For some, the presence of family and support organizations is enough to ensure a stable life. But for others, the return home is a battle for which they are simply not prepared. | Moultrie News >>

INSIDE WASHINGTON

The Baltimore office of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, once the slowest and most error-prone in the country, has reduced its backlog of disability claims by nearly 60 percent and significantly improved its accuracy, officials said Tuesday. | Baltimore Sun >>

The first Iraq war veteran elected to Congress has been tapped by the White House to serve as the new Under Secretary of the Army. Patrick Murphy, a Pennsylvania Democrat who served in the House from 2007 to 2011, was nominated Wednesday to take over the role as part of ongoing leadership changes at the Department of Defense. | Army Times >>

The Pentagon’s top contractors sent an army of more than 400 lobbyists to Capitol Hill this spring to press their case for increasing the nation’s spending on military hardware, in a massive effort costing tens of millions of dollars of their own funds from April to June alone, according to an analysis of public lobbying data by the Center for Public Integrity. | TIME >>

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