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IAVA | February 6, 2015

IAVA Daily News Brief – February 6, 2015

Today’s Top Stories

Vet Groups: More Suicide Prevention Tools Needed after Clay Hunt Bill
Veterans’ advocates said the Senate’s passage of the Clay Hunt Veteran Suicide bill will not end their push for improving mental health services for veterans. | >>

Senators Seek Compensation for Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange in the U.S.
Thousands of veterans likely exposed to Agent Orange during stateside service gained new momentum Wednesday in a yearslong fight for benefits and compensation after a group of senators highlighted the issue in a query to the Department of Veterans Affairs. | Wall Street Journal >>

Few surprises, concerns at Carter confirmation hearing
The Senate’s confirmation hearing for the next secretary of defense was filled with familiar faces, familiar questions and unsurprising answers from a candidate expected to sail through a full chamber vote within days. | Military Times >>


U.S. and allied aircraft struck Taliban forces in eastern Afghanistan last month, according to a coalition spokesman, in the first confirmed airstrikes in support of Afghan forces since the end of the international combat mission. | Stars and Stripes >>

Defense secretary nominee Ashton Carter, who had his confirmation hearing Wednesday, told Congress he is aware of reports that ISIS may try to expand into Afghanistan, and vowed to work with coalition partners to stop the group. | Fox News >>

Showing why he is one of the brightest lights in the GOP freshman Senate class and one of the best national security minds in either party, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), an Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran, made a compelling argument for our continued military presence in Afghanistan during a speech at the United States Institute of Peace. | Washington Post >>


The Pentagon sent additional Black Hawk helicopters this week to Erbil in northern Iraq to reduce the time needed to rescue pilots who may go down conducting airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Defense Department officials said Thursday. | New York Times >>

Jordan launched an intense air attack Thursday on Islamic State targets in Syria and for the first time inside Iraq as part of its broad response to the extremist group’s killing of a Jordanian pilot by burning him alive. | USA Today >>

Baghdad’s decade-old curfew will end on Saturday and four neighborhoods will be “demilitarized”, Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Thursday, as he tries to normalize the capital. | Reuters >>

Military Affairs

The U.S. Army was denied the budget for the Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System program in fiscal 2015, but it will try again with its 2016 budget proposal. | Washington Times >>

After an MH-53E Sea Dragon went down on Jan. 8, 2014, the military ordered crews to inspect every other Sea Dragon in the fleet – and every CH-53E Super Stallion, the Marine Corps variant – for signs of damaged fuel lines and wires like those that caused the crash. | The Virginian-Pilot >>

Not many Americans understand how many Army divisions we have, the percentage breakdown of the Air Force’s fighter/bomber mix, or the three “Triad” legs of our strategic nuclear force. But just about everyone understands the Navy’s “ship count” and what it means for a president to send a carrier battle group into a crisis zone. | Politico >>

New Greatest Generation

The healing powers of the outdoors will be shown through a series of short films made by military veterans who fought overseas. “Warriors and Film in the North Cascades and Beyond” will take place Monday night in Tacoma. | The News Tribune >>

As contestants in the inaugural SMARTstart Challenge, a Shark Tank-style pitch competition that began in November, Brian Anderson and Janel Norton had 10 minutes to prove that Veterans Alternative Therapy, which provides alternative therapy for veterans, is a viable business worthy of financial support. | Tampa Bay Times >>

Chris Marvin began to believe veterans might have an image problem when he went out to his mailbox one morning and found a check from a wounded veterans charity for $500. “I didn’t know them,” said Mr. Marvin, 35, a retired Army helicopter pilot who broke his legs, an arm and bones in his face in a crash in Afghanistan in 2004. “I didn’t ask for it. I started to wonder, what is this for?” | New York Times >>

Inside Washington

VA’s Office of Information and Technology, or OI&T, requests a total budget authority of $4.13 billion in fiscal 2016 – $231 million more than the fiscal 2015 enacted level and $430 million more than the fiscal 2014 budget. The proposal also requests 7,615 full time employees for OI&T in fiscal 2016 – more than the 7,515-person staff estimated for fiscal 2015 and the 7,291 people OI&T had in fiscal 2014. | Fierce Government >>

On Monday, U.S. Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced the USDA will provide $1.4 million in federal funds to help two New York state organizations train farmers and ranchers, including returning veterans looking to start farm-related careers. | WBNG 12 >>

The Denver veterans hospital and its satellite clinics rate below the national average on wait times for doctor appointments, according to statistics from the Veterans Affairs Department. | Associated Press >>

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