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IAVA | December 15, 2014

IAVA Daily News Brief – December 15, 2014

Today’s Top Stories

Sen. Coburn Is Holding Up the Veterans Suicide Prevention Bill
An effort to get a veterans suicide-prevention bill passed in the final days of the 113th Congress faces one remaining hurdle: an anonymous hold. “As far as we can tell, we have the support of nearly every single U.S. senator, Democrat, Republican, except perhaps just one,” said Alex Nicholson, the legislative director for the advocacy group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. “The holds are anonymous.” But veterans advocates have a suspect for who is behind the procedural roadblock: Sen. Tom Coburn. | Defense One >>

Tom Coburn blocking veteran suicide prevention bill
Richard and Susan Selke, the mother and stepfather of Iraq and Afghanistan veteran Clay Hunt, talk with Rachel Maddow about the features of a bill named for their son, designed to help prevent veteran suicides, and why Senator Coburn is blocking it. | MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show >>

Veterans say legitimate claims routinely denied or ignored
Vietnam War Navy Cross recipient Steve Lowery isn’t alone in his battle to convince the Veterans Benefits Administration that his wounds are linked to his military service. | Las Vegas Review-Journal >>


Taliban suicide bombers and gunmen unloaded a volley of violence across Afghanistan Saturday, killing two U.S. soldiers, assassinating a Supreme Court official, picking off 12 men working to clear land mines, and killing seven Afghan soldiers on a bus—continuing the pace of what has been a particularly bloody few months in the country. | The Atlantic >>

More than 13 years after NATO launched its invasion of Afghanistan following the attacks of September 11th, its International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) this week lowered the flag at its headquarters in Kabul, the capital. The ceremony brought to a formal end ISAF’s combat mission in Afghanistan. | The Economist >>

The US is ending its 13-year-old combat operation in Afghanistan later this month. But thirty-five years ago today, a small group of key players within the Soviet Union decided to commit the empire to military involvement in the country. | Business Insider >>


A recently released CIA cable casts heavy doubt on a key claim used by the Bush administration to justify the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. It discounts intelligence that said Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 ringleaders, met with an Iraqi official in the Czech Republic a few months before the attacks. | CNN >>

The Islamic State has made clear its justification for the rape and enslavement of non-Muslim women and children with a color-printed pamphlet “Question and Answers on Female Slaves and their Freedom,” being distributed in Mosul. Armed men handed out the pamphlet in the militant occupied Iraqi city on Friday after sunset prayers, several residents told CNN on Saturday. | Washington Times >>

Military Affairs

The game was over, and it was time for Navy to celebrate its 13th straight victory over Army. After the Midshipmen stood respectfully for Army’s alma mater, defensive ends Paul Quessenberry and Will Anthony hoisted Ken Niumatalolo on their shoulders to give the winningest football coach in Navy history a free ride in the wake of a 17-10 triumph Saturday. | ESPN >>

Re-enlistment bonuses in fiscal 2015 soon will dry up for Marines in one of 47 military occupational specialties, officials announced this week. | Marine Corps Times >>

[Satire] The big winner of today’s Army-Navy game may have been the Islamic State, which fought and won a major offensive while the U.S. military watched the game, Duffel Blog has learned. | The Duffel Blog >>

New Greatest Generation

A former Army fullback and a West Point graduate who was awarded the Bronze Star for his service in Afghanistan, Viti has been walking — and talking — since he set off from DuPont, Washington, on April 26. Each car that passes sends a loud “whoosh” through the phone as he tells me about his hike — 25 miles a day, six days a week, along beachfront paths, down support roads for railroad tracks and on major highways. | ESPN >>

Twelve miles south of the gates of Joint Base Lewis McChord, separating troops are planning for their future in a cloud of welding sparks. | Air Force Times >>

Today was “Wreaths Across America Day”, when Americans honor veterans by laying wreaths at their gravesites in national cemeteries and veterans cemeteries nationwide. Wreaths Across America started in 1992, when Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, found that the company had a surplus of wreaths nearing the end of the holiday season. | The Examiner >>

Inside Washington

Department of Veterans Affairs leaders often talk proudly about how the agency polices itself when medical mistakes occur, saying they inform veterans who are seriously harmed, apologize and even tell them how to file a financial claim for damages. But a VA report to Congress in April showing the agency made 76 “institutional disclosures” involving veterans who were hurt by delays in treatment of gastrointestinal cancers might reveal that this confession policy is often not followed, according to interviews and congressional records obtained by the Tampa Bay Times. | Tampa Bay Times >>

The death of a patient at a Miami veterans’ facility could lead to a broader review of similar programs across the country, one of several provisions impacting Florida in a recently passed congressional spending bill. | McClatchy Washington Bureau >>

Even as the Department of Veterans Affairs scrambles to get its massive Aurora hospital project back on track, the bureaucratic bungling that further delayed work there is increasing frustration among Pikes Peak region veterans. | Colorado Springs Gazette >>

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