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Morning Muster: 12/4/2014

Builder Constructionman Brandon Schwing from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion  3 levels the concrete at the Seabee Museum, Wednesday, Nov. 20. Fourteen Seabees spent four days laying 20-cubic feet of concrete for the museum. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Debra Daco).

Builder Constructionman Brandon Schwing from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 3 levels the concrete at the Seabee Museum, Wednesday, Nov. 20. Fourteen Seabees spent four days laying 20-cubic feet of concrete for the museum. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Debra Daco).

VA has fired 500 since July; troops in Liberia testing blood for Ebola; burn pits may be this generation’s Agent Orange; Congress cutting commissary funds; 1 out of 4 homeless vets could not reach hotline; sexual assault bill may be up in Congress again; military sexual assaults up 8%; caregivers criticize VA program; 3 VA whistleblowers honored

The Department of Veterans Affairs has fired 500 people since July, reports Federal TimesAndy Medici. Agency officials have fired more than 900 people since the beginning of fiscal year 2013, and proposed disciplinary action against 45 for manipulating data or improperly taking care of patients.

USA TODAY‘s Gregg Zoroya spent time in Liberia with troops working on the Ebola front. Three microbiologists and a Navy corpsman are testing blood samples for the disease. The troops say they’re not afraid to handle the samples, and they love that they’re able to quickly provide answers that can save lives.

Al Jazeera‘s Sameen Amin and Sheila MacVicar report that the burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan could be this generation’s Agent Orange. Critics argue VA needs to recognize lung diseases and cancers service members face, as well as doing more to educate and track exposed veterans.

Military Times‘ Karen Jowers reports that Congress members have agreed to cut $100 million in commissary spending in 2015 compared to 2014. Defense officials had proposed that $200 million be cut. Troops and retirees typically save about 30 percent at the commissary compared to an off-post grocery store, and this would shrink that savings to about 10 percent.

The Morning Call‘s Paul Muschick reports one out of four homeless vets who called a VA hotline for help could not reach a counselor. Instead, they left messages on answering machines, according to a VA Office of the Inspector General audit. The thing about being homeless? It’s often hard to leave a callback number. More than 40,000 calls did not lead to services for those veterans.

The National Journal‘s Jordain Carney and Alex Brown report Sen. Kirsten Gillebrand, D-N.Y., hopes to push her proposal to remove sexual-assault prosecutions from the military chain of command in the new defense authorization bill. An attempt earlier this year failed.

In the meantime, The New York TimesHelene Cooper reports sexual assaults and harassment in the military went up 8 percent in fiscal year 2014. In a study to be released by the secretary of defense today, military figures show numbers grew from about 5,000 last year to 5,400 this year.

Military TimesLeo Shane reports that eligibility requirements and long wait periods have added to the headaches caregivers of veterans with service-connected injuries face. During a House Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing, caregivers pushed for better coordination and expanded programs.

The Washington Post‘s Joe Davidson reports that three VA whistleblowers received awards Wednesday for reporting problems. The Office of the Special Counsel honored the employees, all physicians, for their roles in uncovering major problems at VA.

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. The firm’s partners are former VA attorneys who are very familiar with the VA system. Bergmann & Moore handles all kinds of cases, but has a concentration in claims involving PTSD, military sexual trauma and complex medical issues, such as brain cancer or degenerative issues, veterans exposed to Agent Orange often face. 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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