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IAVA | January 13, 2015

IAVA Daily News Brief – January 13, 2014

Today’s Top Stories

House again passes veterans suicide prevention bill
For the second time in five weeks, House lawmakers unanimously passed sweeping veterans mental health legislation designed to launch new community outreach efforts and recruit more psychiatrists to slow the nation’s estimated 22 veterans suicides each day. | Military Times >>

Opiates handed out like candy to ‘doped-up’ veterans at Wisconsin VA
Doctors at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical center in Tomah, Wisconsin, hand out so many narcotic painkillers that some veterans have taken to calling the place “Candy Land.” | The Center for Investigative Reporting >>

‘Brain zapping’: Veterans say experimental PTSD treatment has changed their lives
The headquarters of Oakley, a maker of recreational and military gear, looks as if it belongs in a war zone. It’s a massive bunker with exposed steel pipes, girders and blast walls. Even the dais in the auditorium is armored. But on a recent afternoon, the talk inside the building, set atop an arid, inland hillside in Orange County, is not about fighting wars but about caring for warriors. | Washington Post >>


Afghan officials confirmed for the first time Monday that the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is active in the south, recruiting fighters, flying black flags and, according to some sources, even battling Taliban militants. | CBS News >>

Afghanistan is unable to adequately track personnel and pay within its police force despite more than 13 years and billions of dollars of outside assistance, a U.S. watchdog said Monday, highlighting concerns about security forces as the United States and other Western nations withdraw. | Washington Post >>

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani nominated ministers for his new cabinet on Monday, after a wait of more than three months, to try to establish a working government to tackle the violence-racked country’s problems. | Reuters >>


A bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to the Iraqi prime minister Monday to ask him to ensure that his government is distributing aid to the Kurdish minority in northern Iraq who are under threat from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. | The Hill >>

Hackers claiming to be affiliated with Islamic State militants hacked into the Twitter and YouTube accounts of U.S. Central Command on Monday, posting warnings to American troops and their families, as well as what appear to be rosters with military personnel’s street and email addresses and phone numbers. | McClatchy Washington Bureau >>

In the eyes of most Iraqis, their country’s best ally in the war against the Islamic State group is not the United States and the coalition air campaign against the militants. It’s Iran, which is credited with stopping the extremists’ march on Baghdad. | Associated Press >>

Military Affairs

With U.S. attack submarines sidelined by extended delays at government shipyards, the Navy is turning to private companies to perform more of the maintenance work on the nuclear-powered vessels. | Associated Press >>

The Air Force is rolling out the most dramatic retooling of how it evaluates and promotes enlisted airmen in decades — and those airmen want to know more about how it’s going to work. | Air Force Times >>

One day, troops will strap on bulletproof Iron Man suits and fly into battle, but only after a breakthrough in portable power storage that may not arrive for another decade. In the meantime, exoskeletons do have real military potential today, if only the Pentagon can shed some of its comic-book inspired notions and deploy them where they can do the most good — on ships. | Defense One >>

New Greatest Generation

Each day, 22 U.S. veterans take their own lives.
Mark Spencer is trying to stop the tragedy. Over the weekend, Spencer hosted a hunting trip in Northeast Nebraska, through his organization, Patriot Outdoors Adventures, for two veterans with medical injuries. | Norfolk Daily News >>

Jason Carthel has traveled a long way from the talcum sands of Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War to the black soil of the 25 acres he farms today near Denton, Nebraska. The West Texas native flew on a medevac helicopter crew during his five-year Army career. In the war, his job included retrieving the bodies of dead soldiers, some of them mangled by land mines. | Omaha World-Herald >>

[Video] The Heroes Project founder Tim Medvetz, along with retired USMC Staff Sergeant Mark Zambon, explains how his program gives service men and women a second chance to overcome their disabilities. | Wall Street Journal >>

Inside Washington

Putting budget concerns ahead of troop welfare, a top Obama administration appointee declared to Congress that the Pentagon doesn’t want to spend the money to alert hundreds of thousands of soldiers who served at a once-contaminated Army base that they may have been exposed to toxins. | Washington Times >>

Jack Fanous writes an op-ed for the Philadelphia Inquirer: For all the federal lawmakers returing to Washington this month, let me suggest a focus for your efforts: Support our troops. | Philadelphia Inquirer >>

Veterans Affairs Department executives fired for cause could find their pensions trimmed under legislation being drafted by House lawmakers. Under the bill, VA Secretary Bob McDonald would be able to reduce senior executive service employees’ pensions by nixing benefits accrued during years they engaged in the actions that got them fired, a House Veterans Affairs Committee staff member confirmed on background. | >>

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