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IAVA Daily News Brief – Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Idaho Army National Guard soldiers Sgt. Jeffrey Hanson, Sgt. Jordan Egbert and Spc. Connor Mason, combat engineers with the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team, review routes on a field map at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif. | Military Times >>

Idaho Army National Guard soldiers Sgt. Jeffrey Hanson, Sgt. Jordan Egbert and Spc. Connor Mason, combat engineers with the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team, review routes on a field map at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif. | Military Times >>

TODAY’S TOP STORIES
Veterans Journal: What Iraq/Afghanistan vets want from their next president
Now that the 2016 presidential race is officially under way with the first Republican National Committee-sponsored debate televised on Aug. 6, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the nation’s first and largest nonpartisan organization for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has called on presidential candidates to outline concrete campaign agendas addressing urgent issues affecting America’s newest veterans and their families. | Providence Journal >>

The VA’s Attempt To Fight Opioid Dependence Leaves Pain Patients Cut Off
In order to combat a growing number of accidental overdoses, suicides, and prescription drug abuse, the VA unveiled the Opioid Safety Initiative in 2013. In theory, the initiative promotes alternative methods of pain control, such as acupuncture and chiropractic care, while reducing the dosages and prescriptions for opioid medications. This coincided with a national campaign outside the VA to curb prescription drug abuse. | Task & Purpose >>

Audit: Oversight of veteran homes needs improvement
The Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs didn’t properly address deficiencies at its five veterans’ homes across the state or adequately monitor contractors who provide health services there, according to an audit released Monday. | Associated Press >>

AFGHANISTAN
Finally, after years of outcry by politicians, parents and civil society groups, the Interior Ministry announced last month that it was officially enacting a ban on the sale of plastic firearms in Afghanistan. At a news conference in Kabul, Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said: “After this, there is a ban on the sale and use of plastic guns…. The interior minister directed police in all provinces to collect these toys and prevent their sale.” | LA Times >>

Pakistan and Afghanistan must intensify efforts to halt spread of the crippling poliovirus, including better screening of travelers heading abroad, the World Health Organization said on Monday. The WHO emergency committee of experts warned in a statement that vaccinations of international air travelers in Afghanistan are not being tracked “And no exit screening and restriction of unvaccinated travelers has been implemented at international airports.” | Reuters >>

Hundreds of mourners lined Main Street on Sunday as they waited to enter the wake of Army Master Sergeant Peter Andrew McKenna Jr., who was killed earlier this month in Afghanistan. Outside St. Mary of the Bay Church, where the wake was held, flags hung at half-staff along the street. Police cars flashed red, white, and blue as light rain fell on mourners seeking to pay their last respects. | Boston Globe >>

IRAQ
A report approved Monday by the Iraqi parliament blames the country’s former Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki, and other senior officials for the fall of the northern city of Mosul in 2014. The report will be submitted to the judicial branch of government for possible legal action. | CNN >>

Strapped for cash and increasingly frustrated with Baghdad’s stingy disbursement of the federal budget, Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish government has turned its back on a deal struck last year to patch over a long-standing oil feud between the Kurds and the federal government. | Washington Times >>

The United States and its allies have conducted 22 air strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in the past 24 hours, the U.S. military said on Sunday. In Syria, three strikes near Hasaka in northeast Syria hit a tactical unit and destroyed Islamic State fighting positions, bunkers, and excavators. | Reuters >>

MILITARY AFFAIRS
An Arkansas Air National Guard official said a new mission to train more crew members on the C-130H aircraft has “completely changed” how the 189th Airlift Wing operates. The 189th wing has trained instructors on the plane designed to airdrop troops and equipment into hostile areas since 1986, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. | Associated Press >>

The Pentagon will significantly expand the number of daily drone sorties conducted around the globe during the next several years and will for the first time expand the mission beyond the Air Force, a defense official said. The plan reflects a high-level recognition that the Air Force’s remotely piloted vehicle fleet can no longer meet the forcewide demand for combat air patrols flown by drone pilots, mainly due to severe pilot shortages. | Military Times >>One of two parachutists who collided while performing at the Chicago Air and Water Show Saturday morning has died, the Cook County Medical Examiner confirmed. U.S. Army Sergeant 1st Class Cory Hood, 32, died Sunday afternoon, a day after he was injured in the mid-air collision with another parachutist, CBS Chicago reported. | CBS News >>

#VETSRISING
The saying goes, “dogs are man’s best friend,” and that holds true for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The condition affects more than 3 million people each year, but a good way to cope with the disorder is with a service dog. Gary Heckard of Estherville Iowa served a year in Afghanistan in 2010, but when he returned he was diagnosed with PTSD. While looking for ways to help with the condition, he decided a service dog would be the most beneficial . | KIMT >>

“Functional zero says that when someone is homeless, or when someone is in danger of homelessness, that we know where to send them and we know how to [offer] housing and help them get back on their feet,” Craig Schlattmann, program manager for Homes for All Veterans, says. Homes for All Veterans is a program of the Colorado nonprofit Rocky Mountain Human Services and funded by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. | Colorado Public Radio >>

An Iraq war veteran who lost a Democratic congressional bid last year says he will try again in a different district. Jim Mowrer announced Monday that he’ll run for the Democratic nomination in Iowa’s 3rd congressional district. Mowrer ran unsuccessfully last year against Republican Rep. Steve King in the 4th district. | Associated Press >>

INSIDE WASHINGTON
Next month, 20-year U.S. Army veteran Sheila Jackson will assume command at the Reno Veterans Administration Regional Office. It may prove to be a near-impossible job. The office is notorious nationwide for its inefficiency in processing disability claims. | Reno Gazette-Journal >>

Two Tristate nurses employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs are among those who have relaunched a federal lawsuit against the federal government, claiming they were forced to work overtime but were not compensated. | Cincinnati Enquirer >>

Looking to steady his presidential bid that seems to be stumbling, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is pitching an overhaul of how the country treats veterans as he campaigns Monday in South Carolina. The Republican hopeful criticized Department of Veterans Affairs programs as antiquated and pledged to modernize the system, which serves more than 6 million Americans a year. | TIME >>

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