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IAVA | December 3, 2015

IAVA Daily News Brief – December 3, 2015

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Col. Harlie Bodine, commander of the Air Force’s 611th Air and Space Operations Center, spent the day with the 176th Wing, Alaska Air National Guard’s rescue squadrons during an immersion flight in and around the JBER area. | Military Times >>


Today’s Top Stories

For Some Service Members, Insomnia May Not Be Part Of PTSD
Lack of sleep is reported by more than half of the 2 million men and women who have served since Sept. 11. Sleeplessness has historically been considered a secondary symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder, but recent research shows that insomnia may be a disorder unto itself. | Task & Purpose >>

VA can’t afford drug for veterans suffering from hepatitis C
On Tuesday, a Senate report found Gilead Sciences, which makes a cure for a fatal form of hepatitis, is more interested in profits than patients. The cure was invented under the leadership of a celebrated doctor in the Department of Veterans Affairs, but at $1,000 a pill, even the VA can’t afford to save the lives of veterans who need it. | CBS News >>

VA loosens rules for referrals to private doctors in effort to expand access to care
The Department of Veterans Affairs, under pressure to expand veterans’ access to private doctors outside its understaffed medical system, announced new rules Tuesday to expand the number of patients who are eligible under the Veterans Choice Program. | Washington Post >>


Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour has been seriously wounded in Pakistan in a shootout between senior members of the Islamist movement, Taliban sources said on Wednesday, but the group’s main spokesman dismissed their report as “baseless”. | Reuters >>

The number of aviation missions the Afghan military has flown this year has climbed dramatically from 2014, as the force faces increasing demand and limited resources because the U.S. military has pulled back on how much help it offers through the air. | Washington Post >>

Two months after the Taliban rampaged through the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, residents are still sifting through the rubble, wondering how they will ever rebuild and worrying that the insurgents will return. The Taliban swept into the strategic northern city in late September, holding it for three days and looting and destroying shops before being driven out by a massive counteroffensive backed by U.S. airstrikes. | Associated Press >>


The U.S. special operation forces headed to Iraq won’t be sitting on the sidelines in the fight against ISIS — they’ll be in combat, a top military official said Wednesday. “A raid is a combat operation, there’s no way around that,” said Colonel Steve Warren, the Baghdad-based spokesman for the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve. | NBC News >>

On the front lines of the battle against the Islamic State, suspicion of the United States runs deep. Iraqi fighters say they have all seen the videos purportedly showing U.S. helicopters airdropping weapons to the militants, and many claim they have friends and relatives who have witnessed similar instances of collusion. | Washington Post >>

Iraq’s ruling alliance and powerful Shi’ite militias say Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi would be digging his own political grave and undermining the fight against Islamic State if he permits the deployment of a new U.S. special operations force in the country. | Reuters >>

Military Affairs

Army leaders in Europe are asking for more rotational helicopters and aviators to fill an “aviation deficit” as the service shrinks its sole combat aviation brigade in the region. | Army Times >>

Defense Secretary Ash Carter has tapped a one-star Marine Corps general to be his senior military adviser, replacing the Army three-star who was fired last month, a defense official said. Carter selected Brig. Gen. Eric M. Smith, currently commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces South, according to a defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the appointment has not been publicly announced. | Military Times >>

Faced with an ongoing shortage of remotely piloted aircraft operators and the need to train more RPA pilots, the Air Force is hiring civilian contractor pilots, sensor operators and maintainers for MQ-9 Reapers, officials said. The contractors are only involved with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, said Maj. Genieve David, a spokeswoman for Air Combat Command. | Air Force Times >>


About 40 people came to hear from a Marine veteran walking 5,000 miles across the United States to share a message of how post-traumatic stress disorder affects veterans. Speaking in the Texas Tech Student Union Building on Tuesday afternoon, Ryan Weldon said it was last December when he learned that 22 veterans a day commit suicide as a result of PTSD. | Lubbock Avalanche-Journal >>

A group of local veterans made friends with a few feisty horses on Tuesday thanks to the “Hooves for Heroes” program through the Mansfield Municipal Veterans Court and Raemelton Therapeutic Equestrian Center. In their final program session before winter break, the eight veterans made friends with three Raemelton horses by grooming them and leading them through a group activity. The veterans, all convicted of minor misdemeanors, were from Mansfield Municipal Veterans Court. | The Richland Source >>

Ian Freeman is a proud Army veteran and an advocate for better care for veterans who have served. “I would like to see treatment for PTSD issues,” Freeman explained. “I know a lot of guys that still after three of four years wont go to a Boise State game. They won’t go to a birthday party because it’s just too much for them to handle.” | KIVI-TV >>

Inside Washington

The director of the massive Veterans Affairs medical system in San Diego is leaving for the civilian sector. Jeff Gering, in the top administrator job since May 2012, told a VA advisory board in a recent memo that he is going to Family Health Centers of San Diego as vice president of strategy and support services. | The San Diego Union-Tribune  >>

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), the first female combat veteran in the upper chamber, has retired from the military after 23 years. “Today is my first day as a full-fledged civilian,” Ernst told Iowa reporters Tuesday, according to The Des Moines Register. | The Hill >>

New legislation proposed by the chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee would allow VA officials to take back any employee relocation payments deemed improper or illegal. The proposal would apply to past or future payouts and comes in direct response to a decision by VA leaders not to try to recover almost $400,000 in relocation expenses paid to a pair of department administrators who were later demoted and reassigned for abuse of power. | Military Times >>

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