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Morning Muster: 11/24/2014

A New York Air National Guard airman assists in snow removal efforts from the roof of the Eden Heights Assisted Living Facility in West Seneca, N.Y., Nov. 19, 2014. The airman is assigned to the 107th Airlift Wing based in Niagara Falls, N.Y.

A New York Air National Guard airman assists in snow-removal efforts from the roof of the Eden Heights Assisted Living Facility in West Seneca, N.Y., last week. The airman is assigned to the 107th Airlift Wing based in Niagara Falls, N.Y.

U.S. secretly destroyed more than 4,000 chemical weapons in Iraq; new bill would allow medical marijuana; new research shows universities need better understanding of vets; new bill would address VA cemetery backlog; more than one million vets don’t have insurance; 29% of those surveyed believe VA does a good job; last WWII vets leave Congress; VA kills $2.3 million wind turbine; VA ordered to allow service dog access to facilities two years ago

The New York TimesC.J. Chivers reports that the U.S. government destroyed more than 4,000 old chemical weapons in Iraq from 2004 to 2009, usually in secret open-air detonations. Chivers reports the Pentagon gave him a 30-page summary Friday.

A new, bipartisan bill would allow Department of Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical marijuana for their patients, reports Huffington Post’s Matt Ferner. Reps. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., introduced the Veterans Equal Access Act, which would lift a ban on doctors prescribing medications where medical marijuana is permitted.

Inside Higher Ed’s Kaitlin Mulhere reports that several new research papers suggest vets are more complicated than the general population tends to assume.

Who knew?

But the papers show that misconceptions can “limit [colleges’] ability to support [veterans] effectively,” and that “veterans are not a homogenous group of white males who have a shared experience of combat.”

That assumption can lead civilians to treat vets as “others,” according to the research. They might believe vets joined the military because they weren’t smart enough to go to school or that all vets have post-traumatic stress disorder (or haven’t been able to control it). But some of the papers also focused on the strengths people can gain through the military, such as “internal foundations,” or on what vets think of the campus climate. There are areas that need work: Civilian students were four times as likely as vets to say they planned to graduate from the school where they were enrolled.

After reports of bodies accumulating in morgues because of VA delays in burials in national cemeteries, both the Senate and House have pushed bills to decrease the days spent waiting, reports Stars & Stripes’ Travis J. Tritten. The bills would require VA to report any burial delays longer than 30 days. In May, the Los Angeles Times reported 52 unclaimed veteran bodies had accumulated in a California morgue.

The Lancet released numbers showing that 1.2 million veterans have no health insurance, reports ABC News Radio. Fewer than 50 percent of vets receive benefits through VA, researchers at New York University and the Harvard School of Public Health say. Some have not enrolled, and some have not been eligible to enroll in Medicaid because their states’ governors chose not to expand the program, researchers say.

A new survey finds that 29 percent of those surveyed say VA does an excellent or good job, reports The Washington Post‘s Josh Hicks. That’s 13 percentage points lower than the second-lowest-scoring federal agency, the Central Intelligence Agency. About 41 percent of respondents say the IRS does a good job.

The last of the World War II veterans are leaving Congress, reports The Dallas Morning NewsKimberly Railey. Ralph Hall, R-Texas, was defeated in the last election, and John Dingell, D-Mich., is retiring.

VA has killed a $2.3 million turbine that was to provide the St. Cloud, Minn., VA system with 15 percent of its power because the lead contractor has failed to provide an operational plant, reports The Associated Press. VA has paid the majority of the contract.

Military Times’ Patricia Kime reports more about VA’s decision to allow unrestricted access of service dogs to VA facilities, writing that Congress had ordered the change more than two years ago. However, the change allows more access than what Congress asked for.

Bergmann & Moore, LLC, is a national law firm dedicated to serving the needs of veterans in compensation claims before and against the Department of Veterans Affairs. For more information, or to sign up for an email version of this blog, contact Kelly Kennedy at kkennedy@vetlawyers.com. 

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