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IAVA | December 22, 2014

IAVA Daily News Brief – December 22, 2014

Today’s Top Stories

Life after war
Mika Brzezinski talks to a military panel about the difficulties veterans face transitioning back to civilian life. The panel talks about PTSD and VA policies. IAVA’s CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff also urges viewers to go see the film, “American Hero.” | MSNBC’s Morning Joe >>

Not every GI is a Joe! VA works to help growing number of female veterans
“Not every GI is a Joe.” “Please, don’t call me Mister” These are the titles of a series of posters that the Department of Veterans Affairs has put up across its vast hospital system. It’s all part of an effort to help the fastest growing veteran population — women — feel more comfortable in a system designed to serve and dominated by male veterans. | Washington Post >>

Vets who’ve taken their own lives honored at candlelight vigil
Christmas, as joyous of a season as it is, can also be a time of depression or even loneliness for those going through post-traumatic stress disorder. Unfortunately, veterans who may be suffering from PTSD end their lives all too frequently. In fact, 22 veterans commit suicide every day within the United States, according to data from the Department of Veteran Affairs. | Daily Herald >>


The United States released four Guantanamo Bay prisoners to their home country of Afghanistan on Friday, the first such transfer to the war-torn country since 2009, the Department of Defense announced Saturday. | NBC News >>

Seven police officers were killed in a northern Afghanistan province after their checkpoint came under attack by insurgents, an Afghan official says. | Associated Press >>

Farhad remembers well the hairy aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. For three weeks straight, men who had been forced to grow long beards under the strict Islamic law imposed by the Taliban lined up day and night outside his barber shop to liberate their faces. | Stars and Stripes >>


Bombs targeting commercial streets and an army patrol killed 12 people in and around Baghdad Saturday, Iraqi authorities said. Police officials said a bomb exploded on a commercial street in the town of Madain, about 20 kilometers (14 miles) southeast of the capital, killing four people and wounding nine others. | Associated Press >>

Kurdish authorities say their Peshmerga forces have taken control of a “large area” of the Iraqi town of Sinjar from Islamic State militants. Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani claimed large Peshmerga advances during a visit to nearby Mount Sinjar. | BBC News >>

Abu Murtada al-Moussawi answered the call last summer from Iraq’s top Shiite cleric to help save the country from the Islamic State group, but after less than three months on the front lines he and several friends returned home because they had run out of food. | Associated Press >>

Military Affairs

The U.S. Army is expected to announce Monday that it has forwarded the results of its investigation into the 2009 disappearance of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from an Afghan outpost to a military commander who will determine what punishment the soldier will face, defense officials said. | Wall Street Journal >>

It’s a good time to be in the Navy, career-wise. The Navy is unique among the services as it expects to grow, not shrink, in the next few years. Officials also project retention to start falling from historic highs as the economy gathers steam — and that’s good news for those remaining in uniform. | Navy Times >>

Faced with one of its biggest challenges in years — repairing a troubled nuclear missile corps — the Air Force has taken an important first step by admitting, after years of denial, that its problems run deep and wide. | Associated Press >>

New Greatest Generation

United States Army veteran Jason Gibson will be home for Christmas. Not just any home, but a brand-new, mortgage-free home designed to accommodate his needs. The retired staff sergeant lost both his legs and his left index finger to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in 2012. | WBNS-10 TV >>

As the first Veterans Services Director at Cal State San Marcos, Patricia Reily — a 20-year veteran of the Navy — oversees a center that supports hundreds of former and active-duty service members on campus. | U-T San Diego >>

Jonathan Iversen never pictured himself on the Reed Arena floor alongside more than 1,200 Texas A&M University graduates for a commencement ceremony when he returned from active duty overseas. | The Bryan-College Station Eagle >>

Inside Washington

It appears the Department of Veterans Affairs will move forward with a new contract supporting its program for verifying veteran-owned small businesses, more than a year after the VA ended the old contract and following a number of bizarre delays spurred by legal and regulatory wrangling. | Washington Business Journal >>

The Defense Department could slash its enormous health care budget by requiring Tricare beneficiaries not on active duty to get health care coverage through Affordable Care Act exchanges, according to several current and former congressional budget experts. | Military Times >>

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) blocked the Clay Hunt Act from coming to a vote this week just before retiring from the Senate, sparking backlash from veterans groups, members of congress and those in the media. | Blue Force Tracker >>

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