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IAVA | December 18, 2015

IAVA Daily News Brief – December 18, 2015

Tech Sgt. Jason Hubbart with the 435th Contingency Response Group (CRG) based out of Ramstien Air Base, Germany, retrieves his parachute during Operation Toy Drop (OTD) EUCOM. OTD is hosted by the 5th Quartermaster Theater Aerial Delivery Company at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. | Military Times >>
Tech Sgt. Jason Hubbart with the 435th Contingency Response Group (CRG) based out of Ramstien Air Base, Germany, retrieves his parachute during Operation Toy Drop (OTD) EUCOM. OTD is hosted by the 5th Quartermaster Theater Aerial Delivery Company at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. | Military Times >>


Today’s Top Stories

Military suicides hold steady in 2015
For the third straight year, suicides among active-duty members have remained relatively steady, which Pentagon officials say could indicate that suicide-awareness and -prevention programs are hitting their mark. According to Defense Department data, 275 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines took their own lives this year as of Dec. 15 — two more than in 2014 and 22 more than in 2013. | Military Times >>

Department Of Veterans Affairs To Pay For Robotic Legs
Eligible veterans with spinal cord injuries may soon be able to walk again. The Department of Veterans Affairs will now pay for robotic leg devices for eligible paralyzed veterans, VA officials tell The Associated Press. | NPR >>

Desperate To Return Home, Deported Veterans Face Exile
Barajas, Bailey, and Hernandez are three of the veterans that will be profiled in Mike Seely’s upcoming documentary, “Exiled: America’s Deported Veterans.” Barajas and Bailey received honorable discharges and Hernandez received a general discharge under honorable conditions. All three were legal green card holders, but were deported for committing a crime. Their deportation occurred after they’d already paid their dues to society, sometimes in the form of jail time or a prison sentence, Seely told Task & Purpose. | Task & Purpose >>


Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, humiliated over the summer by the collapse of his bold overture to Pakistan to revive peace talks with the Taliban, has met a barrage of criticism at home this month for his new effort to engage Pakistan in the peace process, just when Taliban forces based there have staged a rash of attacks across Afghanistan. | Washington Post >>

German lawmakers have approved a slight increase to the country’s contingent in the NATO-led training force in Afghanistan. Parliament voted 480-112 on Thursday to authorize the military’s continued deployment in Afghanistan next year, with 10 abstentions. The contingent’s maximum size was raised from 850 to 980. | Associated Press >>

The Taliban’s growing momentum in Afghanistan is beginning to threaten the fragile former Soviet republics of Central Asia just to the north, where some officials already fret they may live through the troubles of the 1990s all over again. | Wall Street Journal >>


Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of Iraq declined to take up the Pentagon on its recent offer to speed up the fight against Islamic State fighters in Ramadi with the help of American attack helicopters, officials said on Wednesday. | New York Times >>

ISIS militants launched a “significant” 17-hour assault on Kurdish forces in Iraq, a commander said Thursday as Defense Secretary Ash Carter continued his visit to the country. The fighters were eventually repelled with the help of U.S.-led airstrikes, according to Gen. Mark Odom, the most senior coalition officer in the area. | NBC News >>

The United States ramped up pressure Wednesday on Turkey to pull unauthorized troops from Iraq, aiming to defuse a dispute that has rankled relations between two countries central to the fight against the Islamic State group. | Associated Press >>

Military Affairs

The Department of the Navy will posthumously award Purple Heart medals to four Marines and a sailor killed by a lone terrorist at the Navy Operational Support Center Chattanooga in July, according to a statement from Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. | USA Today >>

The Army is seeking qualified majors and lieutenant colonels to apply for a chance to spend a year working for agencies such as the CIA, FBI, State Department, NSA, FAA and FEMA. The Army Command and General Staff College Interagency Fellowship Program is a career broadening, educational opportunity for field grade officers. | Army Times >>

It’s happening: Enlisted airmen will be allowed to fly some remotely piloted aircraft. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James announced Thursday that enlisted airmen will be able to fly RQ-4 Global Hawks, unarmed RPAs that fly high-altitude reconnaissance missions. | Military Times >>


Got Your 6 has tapped one of the veterans community’s top political activists to take over as executive director of its efforts to rally entertainment and social leaders to better understand veterans. Bill Rausch, currently the political director at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, will assume his new post next month. | Military Times >>

He endured the trauma of war with man’s best friend. Now a young veteran is hoping a reunion with his canine comrade will finally bring him peace of mind. For seven harrowing months in 2011, Lance Cpl. David Pond and his military working dog, Pablo, canvassed the roads of Afghanistan, nosing out hidden bombs that could take out a platoon. They survived scores of combat patrols and more than 30 firefights. | NBC News >>

Most of us will settle into our warm beds tonight, but others in our community aren’t so lucky. To bring awareness to their struggles and fight homelessness, one Fargo veteran is going to extremes. It’s easy to see the weather outside is frightful. While Eric Jungels could be somewhere more delightful, he’s spending his nights in a thin tent on the side of 42nd Street in South Fargo. | WDAY 6 ABC >>

Inside Washington

For months, officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs have claimed they were stymied in trying to hold top Phoenix VA officials accountable because of an ongoing criminal investigation. But an email this week from the department’s Inspector General’s Office says that excuse is bunk: The OIG and FBI criminal investigation of Phoenix officials was completed, referred to federal prosecutors and rejected over the summer. There is no pending case. | The Arizona Republic >>

Weeks after a tongue-lashing by a pair of House subcommittees, the officials working on electronic health record interoperability between the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs say they’ve finally opened lawmakers’ eyes to the progress they’ve been making. | FedScoop >>

The Veterans Affairs Department has determined that eight medical conditions are linked to service at Camp Lejeune, N.C. from 1953 to 1987, and veterans with these diseases who were stationed at the sprawling Marine Corps base are eligible for disability compensation. | Military Times >>

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