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IAVA | February 5, 2015

IAVA Daily News Brief – February 5, 2015

Today’s Top Stories

New Bill Seeks to Curb Suicide by Military Veterans
Next week, President Barack Obama is expected to sign a bill to improve VA assistance to veterans in need of mental health care and at risk for suicide. The legislation, named for Hunt, passed unanimously in Congress — it cleared the Senate on Tuesday — in a rare moment of bipartisanship. | Frontline >>

VA Secretary McDonald defends Obama’s Choice Card budget cut
VA Secretary Robert McDonald defended President Obama’s budget request to cut some funding from the new Choice Card program for veterans, saying he wants the embattled department to be able to make decisions about whether the program is working and when to limit it. | Washington Times >>

HillVets names its 100 most influential on vets issues
HillVets on Wednesday released its choices for the 100 most influential personalities on veterans issues, highlighting the lawmakers, business leaders, community organizers and advocates “giving back to those that have sacrificed so much for our nation.” | Military Times >>

Afghanistan

President Obama’s pick for Defense Secretary would be willing to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan longer than Obama has announced, the nominee told the Senate Wednesday. | New York Daily News >>

The director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Lieutenant General Vincent R. Stewart, warned during congressional testimony yesterday that the “security challenges” the US faces are “more diverse and complex than those we have experienced in our lifetimes.” | Business Insider >>

Four months after President Ashraf Ghani was sworn in Afghanistan is still struggling to form a government, damaging the economy and miring the country in uncertainty as the Taliban insurgency continues. | Daily Mail >>

Iraq

Islamic State militants are selling abducted Iraqi children at markets as sex slaves, and killing other youth, including by crucifixion or burying them alive, a United Nations watchdog said on Wednesday. | Reuters >>

Thousands of Iraqi Christians have established their own militia and are training to fight the Islamic State (ISIS) in the Nineveh Plains of northern Iraq. | Newsweek >>

Matson and dozens of other Westerners now fight with the Kurds, spurred on by Kurdish social media campaigners and a sense of duty rooted in the 2003-2011 U.S.-led military intervention in Iraq. And while the U.S. and its coalition allies bomb the extremists from the air, Kurds say they hope more Westerners will join them on the ground to fight. | Associated Press >>
Military Times

The Army began publishing monthly summary results of courts-martial in November as a way to add “an additional degree of transparency in the court-martial process,” an officer told Army Times. | Army Times >>

Five female soldiers successfully completed the Ranger Training Assessment Course at Fort Benning, Georgia, moving them one step closer to attending the Army’s storied Ranger School this spring. | Army Times >>

A fire erupts on the ex-USS Shadwell, anchored in Mobile Bay, Alabama. Smoke quickly fills the small room where the fire burns in a metal canister. A tall humanoid robot lumbers down the hall and then senses the blaze with a stereoscopic thermal imaging camera. It picks up a nearby hose and extinguishes the fire before anyone is injured or any equipment is lost. | Defense One >>

New Greatest Generation

In his upcoming documentary “No Greater Love,” Roberts sets out to bridge this gap between the American public and its combat veterans through extensive footage he shot in Afghanistan and follow-up interviews with soldiers and Gold Star wives and families. | Military Times >>

A Boise man who was badly wounded while serving our country is preparing for a big climb — again. Marine Staff Sergeant Charlie Linville is planning to climb Mount Everest with a team from the Heroes Project, and he’ll do it with only one leg. | KTVB >>

Acupuncture and Chinese herb treatments may not be traditional forms of therapy for veterans, but inside a building tucked off Highway 183, they are being used to help veterans recover from the trauma of war. | KVUE >>

Inside Washington

The director of the veterans health care system for Denver and eastern Colorado is retiring, days after a report that a Veterans Affairs sleep clinic in Denver had a secret waiting list. | Associated Press >>

Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday grilled members of a military commission that recommended abolishing Tricare, the healthcare system for service members. | The Hill >>

On Tuesday, Congress awarded surviving members of the Devil’s Brigade the Congressional Gold Medal, its highest civilian award. A crowd of about 700, including about 40 living members of the brigade, attended the hour-long ceremony at the Capitol Visitor Center.  | Associated Press >>

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