- The Washington Times - Monday, August 2, 2004

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

I was recently awarded 100 percent disability for a multitude of disabilities, some associated with Agent Orange. One of the illnesses is peripheral neuropathy. It is my understanding that this disease was determined to be caused by exposure to Agent Orange and the rules for related compensation were passed in 1996.

Why does the Veterans Affairs Department not pay a veteran back to 1996, or do they if you yell loud enough? I have been in the Agent Orange registry for a long time. Shouldn’t they have notified me in 1996 that this was a covered illness? Also, are all illnesses determined and award compensation related to diabetes mellitus retroactive to 2001? No one at the VA will even discuss this with me. It appears if they don’t tell the veteran what he is entitled to and when, they save a lot of money.

Please help.

Brothers forever,

Roman

Dear Roman:

You may want to save the yelling for a more attainable goal. The following is taken from the United States Code and provides the technical underpinnings as to how the VA establishes dates of entitlement for VA compensation.

“Unless specifically provided otherwise in chapter 38 USCS 5100 the effective date of an award based on an original claim, a claim reopened after final adjudication, or a claim for increase, of compensation, dependency and indemnity compensation, or pension, shall be fixed in accordance with the facts found, but shall not be earlier than the date of receipt of application therefor.

“(1) The effective date of an award of disability compensation to a veteran shall be the day following the date of the veteran’s discharge or release if application therefor is received within one year from such date of discharge or release.

“(2) The effective date of an award of increased compensation shall be the earliest date as of which it is ascertainable that an increase in disability had occurred, if application is received within one year from such date.”

These regulations also would apply to any disabilities claimed as secondary.

Shaft notes

A high five to the Department of Labor for launching a Web site to help America’s homeless find jobs through mainstream as well as targeted training, education and placement services and to provide a vital link to governmentwide resources.

“This Web page furthers the administration’s commitment to helping the homeless, including homeless veterans,” said Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao, vice chairman of the Interagency Council on Homelessness. “The Department of Labor is committed to pooling our resources and working together with Congress, our federal, state and local partners to achieve the president’s goal of ending chronic homelessness in 10 years.”

The Web page provides links to Labor’s homeless programs as well as to other major governmental and nongovernmental homeless Web pages and programs. Information on the new Web page will allow groups and individuals to better serve the homeless population. This page can be accessed at: www.dol.gov/dol/audience/aud-homeless.htm.

“The Labor Department administers programs providing employment and training services that are crucial components in the comprehensive efforts to address the cycle of homelessness,” said Charles S. Ciccolella, deputy assistant secretary of labor for veterans employment and training services, who is coordinating the department efforts toward eliminating chronic homelessness. “The department offers both mainstream and targeted employment-focused programs that help lead to self-sufficiency. A full list is available through the Web site.”

The department has been addressing the needs of homeless Americans through a number of model targeted intervention and prevention programs, such as the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program; the Incarcerated Veterans Transition Program; the Ready4Work and the Serious and Violent Reentry Initiative; the Jobs Corp Foster Care Recruitment Initiative; and the Ending Chronic Homelessness through Employment and Training grants, which are funded by the Labor Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Information regarding these programs is available in alternate format upon request (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) at 202/693-7765 or TTY at 202/693-7755. Information is available at www.dol.gov/compliance.

I urge all the homeless veterans to break out their laptops and log on.

Kudos to the Washington Capitals for their philanthropic initiative. As part of an overall sponsorship relationship with The Times, the Caps donate daily editions of The Times to the VA Hospital Center, Holy Cross Hospital, Howard University Hospital, Loudoun County Hospital and Virginia Hospital Center.

The Caps also donate newspapers to area ice rinks in order to reach the youth hockey clubs that the Caps and The Times support when the Caps hold “The Washington Times Mites on Ice.” Area youth hockey clubs play on ice during the first intermission of every Caps home game under the “Mites on Ice” program. The rinks getting the papers include SkateQuest Reston, SkateQuest Prince William, Gardens Ice House in Laurel and Ashburn Ice House.

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, PO Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330; call 202/257-5446; or e-mail sgtshaft@bavf.org.

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