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IAVA Daily News Brief – Wednesday, August 5, 2015

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A CH-47D Chinook helicopter prepares to release water from a large bucket onto the Rocky Fire near Clear Lake, Calif. | Military Times >>


TODAY’S TOP STORIES

VA officials say they have cut benefits waiting lists dramatically
Department of Veterans Affairs officials said Monday they have made great progress in reducing the numbers of veterans waiting for benefits decisions. In a news conference at a VA clinic in Golden, Denver officials presented statistics of success: The number of pending disability claims for Colorado veterans is down to 7,443 after peaking at 13,277 in November 2012. | The Denver Post >>

How Effective Are PTSD Treatments for Veterans?
A new study published Tuesday suggests commonly used first-line treatments for PTSD in veterans may not work as well as medical experts once thought. The number of American veterans who suffer from PTSD continues to be a serious national public health problem. Recent data show that more than 200,000 Vietnam War veterans still have PTSD, and other research shows that around 13% of Iraq or Afghanistan veterans who experienced combat have PTSD. The numbers continue to climb. As TIME previously reported, PTSD diagnoses among deployed troops grew by 400% from 2004 to 2012. | TIME >>

The U.S. Declared War On Veteran Homelessness – And It Actually Could Win
About 50,000 vets are homeless in America. In 2009, then-Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki declared that all of them would have housing by this year. At the time, even inside the VA that goal was considered aspirational at best. But last year, cities across the country said it was looking achievable. New Orleans was the first to declare, in January, that the city had done it. | NPR >>

AFGHANISTAN
A senior Taliban figure resigned Tuesday in the latest fallout from the death of longtime leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, which has triggered a succession dispute and revealed growing rifts within the two-decade-old Afghan insurgent group. | Associated Press >>

Though over 7,000 miles away and safely back in the U.S., I can hear the cries from Kunduz. They are the desperate calls for help from the Afghan staff I left behind whose lives are in increasingly great danger as insurgents fight to gain control of this strategic northern province. | The Hill >>

American drone strikes killed hundreds of people in Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia in July, according to a report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a London-based nonprofit. The TBIJ produces monthly reports about highly secretive U.S. drone operations around the globe as part of its goal to provide the public “with the knowledge and facts about the way in which important institutions in our society operate, so that they can be fully informed citizens.” | Newsweek >>

IRAQ
The Obama administration’s top intelligence, counterterrorism and law enforcement officials are divided over which terrorist group poses the biggest threat to the American homeland, the Islamic State or Al Qaeda and its affiliates. | New York Times >>

As Islamic State militants set out to destroy Iraq’s history and culture, including irreplaceable books and manuscripts kept in the militant-held city of Mosul, a major preservation and digitization project is underway in the capital to safeguard a millennium worth of history. | Army Times >>

At noon, the light bouncing off the hot concrete seems to bleach everything, like an overexposed photograph. Standing for more than a minute in the sun sets off a full-body sweat. Even after sunset, as the temperature coasts down from 122 degrees Fahrenheit, or 50 degrees Celsius, to perhaps 108, Baghdad’s heat can seem like a living thing. It clings to every contour of the body, squeezing tight. | New York Times >>

MILITARY AFFAIRS
The Army plans to open to women all but one field artillery MOS, the service’s top officer said Monday. With the exception of the 13F military occupational specialty, “we have decided … we are not going to ask for a waiver to keep it closed,” said Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno. | Army Times >>

The Air Force is accepting applications for the second round of the program through Aug. 31. A selection panel will again consider up to 20 officers and 20 enlisted airmen – active duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve – who want the flexibility to pursue personal or professional goals without having to forgo their military careers. | Stars and Stripes >>

Air Force reserves have been drafted in to help thousands of firefighters battling a raging wildfire in California that jumped a highway which had served as a containment line. | NBC News >>

#VETSRISING
Marine Corps veteran Justin Sloan describes his transition from the military to working at video-game publishing studio TellTale Games. | Task & Purpose >>

A Herndon couple’s offer of retired service dogs for combat veterans has drawn thousands of requests nationwide in one week. Mike and Anne Gibbs, owners of K9 Hero Haven and nine dogs, seven of which are retired service dogs with extensive military or police backgrounds, rescued six other dogs last week and have already placed three in new homes. | The Daily Item >>

Savvy employers know that military veterans often hold the solution to their struggle to attract and retain high-quality talent. They understand that military-experienced personnel possess skills, attitudes and abilities beyond those of most people who have not served. Thus, veterans can add disproportionate value to any team or organization. | U.S. News & World Report >>

INSIDE WASHINGTON
The Department of Veterans Affairs announced plans on Monday to begin revising how it grants disability benefits for veterans who lived at Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corps base in North Carolina, during the 30-plus years that toxic chemicals tainted the base’s drinking water. | Huffington Post >>

John Gennaro has packed a lot into his first week on the job as director of the Cincinnati VA Medical Center: visiting the nine-floor main hospital in Corryville, the satellite facility in Fort Thomas and the six VA clinics in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. His goal in taking over the sprawling medical complex is confronting the question, “How does this impact the veteran?” Gennaro said Monday. “If we can’t answer that question, it may not be a good idea to proceed down that path.” | Cincinnati Enquirer >>

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald is in Nevada touring a solar company facility before addressing a Purple Heart convention in Las Vegas. The head of the Department of Veterans Affairs will visit the SolarCity warehouse in North Las Vegas Tuesday afternoon to hear about its initiative to power 120,000 military homes. | Associated Press >>

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