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IAVA | May 7, 2015

IAVA Daily News Brief – May 7, 2015

Thunderbirds maintenance professionals don their hearing protection during the Big Country Airfest at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. | Military Times >>
Thunderbirds maintenance professionals don their hearing protection during the Big Country Airfest at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. | Military Times >>


Today’s Top Stories

Taxpayers hit with big bill over dubious meds for vets
American troops suffering with pain are being prescribed dubious drugs that cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. CBS News investigated the growing cost and the businesses who pitch gels and creams to veterans. Jim Axelrod reports. | CBS News >>

Are bungled VA claims systemic? Senators want agency review
Troubled by delays in handling veterans claims, a bipartisan group of senators on Wednesday urged a wide-scale, independent review of the Department of Veterans Affairs for mismanagement and changes to improve budgeting and speed up applications. | Associated Press >>

VA’s Top Doctor Nominee Lists Mental Health as Leading Priority
A physician executive nominated to take over as the Department of Veterans Affairs’ top doctor told Congress on Tuesday that the current veteran suicide rate “is something that none of us can be satisfied with.” | >>


President Obama’s nomination of Dunford on Tuesday to become the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff brings the general’s Afghanistan experience back to the fore. It is also certain to inform the advice he provides about how closely the United States should stick to that plan, which would end the U.S. military mission by the time Obama leaves office in 2017. | Washington Post >>

On Sept. 27, 2014, a team of U.S. Special Operations troops was dropped into a volatile village in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. The U.S. military had withdrawn thousands of troops from the country in the previous year, and the mission called for 14 Americans and about 24 Afghan commando counterparts to clear a bazaar of weapons and insurgents, and then get out. On Wednesday, the Air Force will award three prestigious valor combat decorations to its three combat controllers in the battle, service officials said. | Washington Post >>

An Afghan court Wednesday sentenced four men to death in the mob killing of a woman who was falsely accused of burning the Koran, an episode that prompted outrage in Afghanistan and around the world. | LA Times >>


The concrete platform at the river’s edge is festooned with flowers and streaked with blood. Along a back wall are photographs taken from a video of the horror that unfolded here last year: a procession of Shiite men, shot in the head one by one by Islamic State fighters and shoved into the waters of the Tigris. | New York Times >>

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden told the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq that the United States remains committed to a united, federal and democratic Iraq. | Associated Press >>

The U.S.-led military coalition launched 11 air strikes in Iraq against Islamic State militants since early Tuesday, the Combined Joint Task Force said in a statement. | Reuters >>

Military Affairs

Reinstating the draft is hardly a realistic solution to bridging the military-civilian gap in the U.S. And here’s why. One of the strangest criticisms of US security policy is that it burdens a too-small percentage of the American people, because only about 1% of the adult population serves in the military. Because such a small percent of the population is at risk in American wars, American politicians are said to feel free to send the military to fight wasteful, unwinnable, and costly wars. | Defense One >>

Richard Overton was born in 1906 and like most Americans he answered his country’s call to service during World War II. He served in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1945 with the all-black 1887th Engineer Aviation Battalion. He primarily served in the South Pacific which included stints in Hawaii, Guam, Palau and Iwo Jima. Richard celebrated his 109th birthday in Austin, Texas earlier this week. He still drives, maintains his yard, drinks whiskey and smokes cigars, the Wall Street Journal reported. | U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs >>

The drawdown has reduced the Regular Army to 496,079 soldiers, some 23,700 fewer troops than were on the active-duty rolls at this time last year. The Defense Department’s most recent accounting of Army personnel strength shows that manning levels were reduced by 2,081 soldiers in March, which is only 6,079 shy of the end-strength goal of 490,000 for fiscal 2015. | Army Times >>


While on deployment in the 1990s, Navy SEAL Randy Hetrick ran into a problem: How do you maintain a world-class level of physical fitness without anywhere to train? “You’ve got no gear, so you’re relegated to the same body-weight, based calisthenics that the Romans were doing,” said Hetrick. | ABC News >>

In four deployments as an Army combat medic to some of the most dangerous corners of Iraq and Afghanistan, Joe Carney had seen the worst of war — bullet wounds, severed limbs, shrapnel. He saved lives amid bombs and gunfire, his emergency room often a patch of dirt in the desert or a rocky mountainside. None of that mattered when he left the Army three years ago. | Stars and Stripes >>

A 3′ x 5′ image of the Georgia State Memorial to Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans will be unveiled at Liberty Plaza at the Georgia State Capitol May 20 at 11 a.m. by Gov. Nathan Deal. | Atlanta Business Chronicle >>

Inside Washington

The former Phoenix VA Health Care System director is suing in federal court to get her job back, but the Department of Veterans Affairs argues that she will have to overcome a law written specifically to bar such appeals. | The Arizona Republic >>

A former cardiologist with the Department of Veterans Affairs is accusing the agency’s chief watchdog of conducting only a limited probe of allegations that care at a VA hospital outside Chicago is grossly mismanaged, leaving veterans at continued risk of harm or death. | USA Today >>

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald, in a speech to members of Paralyzed Veterans of America, said as the population of veterans ages, the more worried he becomes about taking care of them. “In 40 years, we will have the same issues we have now; when Iraq and Afghanistan veterans get older, we’re not going to be there for them. You can’t keep kicking the can down the road,” he said. | ABC 10 San Diego >>

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