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IAVA | August 14, 2015

IAVA Daily News Brief – August 14, 2015

A Coast Guard Cutter Stratton boarding team member inspects the bridge of a self-propelled semi-submersible interdicted in international waters off the coast of Central America. | Military Times >>
A Coast Guard Cutter Stratton boarding team member inspects the bridge of a self-propelled semi-submersible interdicted in international waters off the coast of Central America. | Military Times >>


Today’s Top Stories

Hidden damage revealed in veterans’ brains from IED blasts
A research team at Johns Hopkins University says they have found a unique honeycomb pattern of broken and swollen nerve fibers in brains of Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans who survived improvised explosive device (IED) blasts, but later died of other causes. In doing so, the team says they may have found the signature of “shell shock” – a problem that has afflicted many soldiers since World War One warfare. | Reuters >>

VA drops subpoena for whistleblower info
The Department of Veterans Affairs’ inspector general (OIG) is dropping its push to force a watchdog to hand over information it got from whistleblowers. In a letter to the group, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), Deputy VA Inspector General Linda Halliday said she has “decided not to enforce the subpoena.” | The Hill >>

In parting, retiring Army chief raises concerns about battle-hardened leaders and Gold Star families
Asked what concerns he had about caring for U.S. veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, he said he was encouraged by what has been done already, but sees needs for both veterans and their caregivers that stretch forward for years. He also talked about those still in uniform. | Washington Post >>


The Special Forces soldier killed last week in Afghanistan has been recommended for the Silver Star, the nation’s third-highest award for valor, for his actions during a vicious and bloody attack in Kabul. | Army Times >>

A government watchdog said Thursday that a $335 million power plant in Afghanistan funded by U.S. taxpayers is operating at less than 1 percent of capacity and is falling into disrepair from lack of use. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko said the Tarakhil Power Plant “continues to be severely underutilized,” despite claims by the U.S. Agency for International Development that the plant remains a “vital component” of the electrical grid serving Kabul, the capital. | Washington Times >>

The Islamic State is making small inroads in Afghanistan and could grow into a more worrisome threat, a U.S. Army general said Thursday. Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon from his offices in Kabul, Brig. Gen. Wilson Shoffner said the Islamic State, which rose to prominence by capturing large swaths of Syria and Iraq, is not yet capable of coordinating military operations in more than one part of Afghanistan at a time. | Associated Press >>


The governor of Iraq’s Anbar province said on Thursday he was sacking all aides as part of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s crackdown on corruption and incompetence to boost the government in its battle against Islamic State insurgents. | Reuters >>

At least 59 people have been killed after a truck bomb exploded in north-eastern Baghdad, Iraqi officials say. The blast tore through the crowded Jameela market in the predominantly Shia district of Sadr City. The Sunni jihadist group, Islamic State (IS), said it was behind the bombing and that it targeted Shia militiamen. | BBC >>

The U.S. on Wednesday launched its first airstrikes by Turkey-based F-16 fighter jets against Islamic State targets in Syria, marking a limited escalation of a yearlong air campaign that critics have called excessively cautious. | CBS News >>

Military Times

A rescue official says navy divers will help search for two people missing when a helicopter flying from an offshore oil rig crashed into a lagoon in Nigeria’s commercial capital of Lagos. | Associated Press >>

The Marines are set to get a half-dozen new F-35B joint strike fighters to replace aircraft lost during an airfield attack in Afghanistan in 2012. Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant for Marine Aviation, said Congress recently approved the purchase of the aircraft, which will allow the Corps to jump ahead in its plans to replace legacy aircraft systems with the 5th generation fighter jet. | Marine Corps Times >>

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter next month will be presented with a package of detailed proposals for reshaping military and defense civilian pays, promotions and quality of life, all of which strive to capture a “Force of the Future” vision that Carter laid out in a speech last March. | Stars and Stripes >>


On July 22 he and three other veterans threw their canoes in the Mississippi headwaters and started paddling for the Gulf of Mexico. Ever since then Lindberg has been sleeping just fine. The trip is an outgrowth of the Warrior Hike, started by Iraq War veteran Sean Gobin in 2012 to help fellow soldiers recover from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). | Michigan Public Radio >>

Claire, a rescued German Shepherd, “kisses” Iraq war veteran Caleb Swartz’s nightmares away. “She licks my face and sometimes she’ll jump on the bed, whine, and wakes me up and I’m all better,” Swartz said in an interview Wednesday. | Herald-Mail Media >>

It is for the above reasons that I have been so impressed with the way that David Madsen, a secondary character in the episodic video game Life Is Strange, is being portrayed. He is the first veteran I’ve seen in a video game who is nuanced and complex without being needlessly stereotyped. As a veteran and gamer, it is refreshing to finally see a depiction of a veteran that feels true. He’s not glorified for his service, nor is he demonized. | Operation Supply Drop >>

Inside Washington

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald paid tribute Wednesday to those who served in the Alaska Territorial Guard during World War II. McDonald addressed seven surviving members of the largely Native citizens militia during a ceremony in the northwest Alaska town of Kotzebue. | Associated Press >>

Congressional debate over the annual defense policy measure often centers on hot-button issues such as the future of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, the fate of huge weapons systems and whether to lift budget caps. This year, a dispute over a bread-and-butter matter — how to pay for the rising cost of prescription drugs — may be most vexing of all for lawmakers who are trying to close a deal on the bill, H.R. 1735, that would authorize more than $620 billion in defense-related spending. | Bloomberg >>

The national supervisor of the bungled Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Aurora gave confidential construction planning documents to a VA employee in Cleveland who now faces a corruption conviction for passing the information on to a contractor, court documents show. | Denver Post >> 

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