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IAVA | September 28, 2015

IAVA Daily News Brief – September 28, 2015

Participants climb over a rope obstacle during a Spartan Sprint race at Fort Bragg, N.C. Fort Bragg hosted the race, which drew more than 6,800 participants, at Smith Lake Recreation Area. The race was more than five miles and had more than 25 obstacles along the course.  | Military Times >>
Participants climb over a rope obstacle during a Spartan Sprint race at Fort Bragg, N.C. Fort Bragg hosted the race, which drew more than 6,800 participants, at Smith Lake Recreation Area. The race was more than five miles and had more than 25 obstacles along the course. | Military Times >>


Today’s Top Stories

Vets Groups Warn Lawmakers That Shutdown Would Disrupt VA Services
Veterans groups are warning Congress that their hundreds of thousands of members don’t want a repeat 2013 legislative failure that led to a government shutdown and disruption of veterans benefits and services. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, which in 2013 brought together members of 33 veterans groups to demand an end to the previous shutdown, plans to rally the organizations in advance. | >>

VA Could Furlough 15,000 Employees in Government Shutdown, Plan Shows
The Veterans Affairs Department could furlough more than 15,000 employees, mostly from the Veterans Benefits Administration, in the event of a government shutdown next week. If Congress fails to pass a budget for fiscal 2016, which begins Oct. 1, or a short-term spending resolution, dozens of VA programs and services will be halted or slowed under a contingency plan, according to Gary Hicks, a spokesman at the department who posted the details late Friday on the VA Advantage website. | >>

Senate agrees to pay full cost of Aurora VA hospital
Construction of a troubled VA hospital in Aurora took another step toward completion Friday when the U.S. Senate agreed to authorize an additional $625 million in spending for the facility. | Denver Post >>


With the delivery of attack helicopters and the impending arrival of ground support aircraft, Afghanistan’s fledgling air force is becoming better equipped to provide badly needed air support in the country’s protracted war against Taliban insurgents. | Stars and Stripes >>

A suicide bomber targeted a volleyball match in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday, killing at least nine spectators, authorities said. It was the second such attack on a volleyball game this year. Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said an additional 33 people were wounded in the attack in Paktika province. | LA Times >>

The U.S. and allied defense officials are considering keeping thousands of American troops in Afghanistan beyond the end of 2016, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. The officials are reportedly concerned about the plans of White House to scale back the U.S. presence in Afghanistan. | International Business Times >>


Iraq says it has reached a deal to share intelligence with Russia, Iran and Syria in the fight against ISIS militants. The announcement on Saturday from the Iraqi military cited “the increasing concern from Russia about thousands of Russian terrorists committing criminal acts within ISIS.” | CNN >>

Ten million Iraqis, or a quarter of the population, are going to need humanitarian aid by year’s end amid “dramatically” worsening conditions that are forcing many people to leave their homeland because they no longer see a future inside their country, a senior UN relief official said today. | UN News Centre >>

A coalition led by the United States conducted 20 air strikes against Islamic State in Iraq and three against the militant group in Syria on Saturday, according to a statement released by the Combined Joint Task Force on Sunday. | Reuters >>

Military Affairs

Basic combat training gets tougher Oct. 1, when the Army rolls out a battery of tests mandatory for graduation. These aren’t written tests, but trials in the field. Soldiers may be asked to load and unload an M249 machine gun, treat an open chest wound or use their rifle as a bludgeon. | Army Times >>

The Army says it’s going over more than 700 public comments while it considers how to get rid of hundreds of horses that wander on the base. A news release says a decision is expected in January. | Associated Press >>

The commander of the Navy’s special warfare units is recommending that the SEALs and combat crew jobs be opened to women, but he warns that women will have greater risk of injury and says the service may be pressured to adjust or lower standards for the jobs. | Associated Press >>


According to a 2013 Department of Veterans Affairs study, 22 veterans and one active duty member die by suicide every day. That number, 22, has since been questioned, but what is indisputable is this: Suicide among veterans and American troops is heartbreaking and alarming. Robert Prah, director of the Office of Veterans Affairs at Cal U. and a member of the Army National Guard who organized the walk, said the root causes of military suicide are difficult to pinpoint. | The Observer-Reporter >>

Former Marines Kelsie Owen and Kevin McClendon both have post-traumatic stress disorder — and have specially trained dogs that are helping them recover from the illness. Owen’s dog, Nola, wakes her from nightmares and nuzzles her for attention if a panic attack is coming on. McClendon has trained his two Rottweilers to form a “T” in front of him to make sure he has enough personal space if people get too close. | Associated Press >>

Shepherd is one of about 100 veterans who have graduated at Aiken’s equine rescue in the past year from Saratoga WarHorse, a nonprofit foundation based in New York that assists veterans nationwide suffering from psychological disorders by connecting them to abused and neglected race horses. | The Augusta Chronicle >>

Inside Washington

Many veterans who fought to protect and defend our country are still fighting to get the support they need from the federal government. Fortunately, help may be on the way for veterans living with hepatitis C, one of the greatest threats facing former servicemen and women. | The Hill >>

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has purchased nearly 15 acres at Indianapolis’ historic Crown Hill Cemetery for a planned cemetery only for veterans and relatives who have been cremated. | Associated Press >>

The Department of Veterans Affairs had one month to enroll William Lloyd Johnson III into its “choice” care program after he received knee-replacement surgery and rehabilitation at Augusta’s Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center. When the deadline passed, Johnson, 61, said he started tracking the wait on his calendar. | The Augusta Chronicle >>

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