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IAVA | February 9, 2015

IAVA Daily News Brief – February 9, 2015

Today’s Top Stories

Congress Acts on Veteran Suicides
Republicans and Democrats in Congress have found something meaningful they can agree about: strengthening the nation’s response to the tragic wave of veteran suicides. On Tuesday, by a 99-to-0 vote, the Senate approved a bill to improve suicide prevention and mental health treatment programs at the Department of Veterans Affairs. | New York Times >>

Veterans Commit Suicide Each Day
Earlier this week, four years after Hunt’s suicide, the United States Senate unanimously passed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, and President Barack Obama will likely sign it into law. Among other things, the new law would create a comprehensive outreach program to address veterans’ mental health and provide financial incentives to psychiatric doctors who work with veterans. | Time >>

Post-9/11 vet unemployment ticks up in January
After a year that set record lows for post-9/11 veteran unemployment, the first report for 2015 showed a 1-point uptick in the group’s unemployment rate, government data show. | Military Times >>


For the first time, Afghanistan has sent members of its security forces for training in neighboring Pakistan. The 18-month training program at a military facility in the northwestern Pakistani city of Abbottabad involves only six Afghan army cadets, but is a sign of increased cooperation between the two countries under new Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. | Los Angeles Times >>

Afghanistan has suffered through long decades of war; conflict with the Soviet Union, civil war and 13 years of a U.S.-led NATO combat mission. Among the political, economic and cultural impacts of this violence, there’s an artistic transformation: the history of violence is reflected in the country’s ancient art of rug making. | NPR >>

Men, women and children sit listlessly on the unkempt lawn of a hospital for drug addicts in this northern Afghan city. Inside, the waiting area is packed with women clad in light blue burqas, each with three or four kids in tow. | USA Today >>


The nation’s top diplomat insisted Sunday that the U.S. was “on the road” to defeating ISIS, even as the Obama administration came under fire for not making sufficient progress in taking on the bloodthirsty terrorist group. | New York Daily News >>

The Obama administration has touted the modest successes in recent months of Iraqi forces and paramilitary fighters, backed by U.S. airpower, as they have fought to wrest towns, villages and parts of Iraq’s rugged countryside from the Islamic State. | Washington Post >>

Arab leaders bemoaned what they called a lack of strategy and weapons in the fight against jihadists like Islamic State (IS) at a security conference attended by Western leaders in Munich on Sunday. | Reuters >>

Military Affairs

The Navy is working on a new and improved version of the oft-maligned fire-resistant coveralls issued to sailors last year. | Navy Times >>

The new arms race scrambles for bytes, not bombs. To take and hold the cyber high ground, the armed services (and just about everybody else) want more fingers on keyboards and eyes on screens. | The Daily Signal >>

Prominent African-Americans from all walks of life have served as a bridge between the past and today, as well as a bridge to the future, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said here Feb. 6. | Army news Service >>

Both New Hampshire senators said Friday that they introduced a bill to make the Choice Card permanent in states with no full-service Veterans Affairs hospital in response to the president’s plan to cut from the program. | Washington Times >>

New Greatest Generation

Legislation aimed at curbing an alarming tide of veterans’ suicides passed Congress and headed to President Barack Obama’s desk last week, thanks in part to a Columbia University sophomore. | Newsday >>

Down a maze of hallways toward the back of Southwest Elementary School sits the unassuming classroom of Daryl Stapper. The classroom has a large reading carpet in the middle of the floor and a map of the United States pulled down over the white board. There are no photos of himself or his family in the room, nothing hinting at his past. | Killeen Daily Herald >>

Members of the Cal U Veterans Club, ROTC cadets, fraternity members and other students are meeting daily at 11:22 a.m. to do 22 pushups each to raise awareness about the suicide rate among military veterans. | Uniontown Herald-Standard >>

Inside Washington

The editorial board at the Times Record writes in an OpEd: Although it is difficult to know exactly how many veterans commit suicide annually, it is clearly too many; of that there is no doubt. | Times Record >>

Home-cooked food and a yearning to explore photography prompted Carleton Dedolph to move from the Tomah VA Medical Center to a foster home in a new Veterans Affairs program there. | Associated Press >>

Brandon Coleman spoke up for veterans at risk of suicide. He wanted to break the cycle of broken promises at the VA. Now, the Phoenix VA employee has been put on leave and GOP Sen. John McCain is backing him up. | KPHO CBS 5 >>

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