- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 11, 2007

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

The Veterans Disability Benefits Commission (VDBC) is in the process of reviewing the benefits of veterans and their survivors. After the commission has completed its review, it will recommend changes to Congress.

The commission is reviewing survivor benefits on Feb. 22. The major benefits to survivors are Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Survivor Benefits Plan (SBP) from the Department of Defense.

DIC is paid to survivors at a flat rate. For this year, it is $1,067 per month.

SBP was originally a premium-based survivor benefit for retired service members, similar to life insurance. It allowed retired service members to designate a portion of their retirement pay to their survivors for a premium of 6.5 percent of their retirement pay.

Law requires that the amount of DIC paid to survivors be deducted from the amount of SBP to which survivors are entitled on a dollar-for-dollar basis. Because of this offset, many survivors receive little or nothing from SBP.

The Defense Department is opposed to eliminating this offset because it feels such a change would not contribute to recruiting, retention or readiness. The department keeps the DIC offset a deep, dark secret. Most service members die thinking that their wives and families will have adequate financial resources and are unaware of the substantial reduction in income caused by the DIC offset.

Please have your readers help survivors by providing their views to the VBDC at veterans@vetscommission.com and check out its Web site: www.vetscommission.org.

Sincerely yours,

Kay W.

Springfield, Va.

Dear Kay:

I urge the members of the commission to highly recommend to Congress a revision of this significant inequity.

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

I truly enjoy reading your weekly column and learning more about government and nonprofit programs that support our servicemen and women. I was especially drawn to your column on Jan. 22 regarding a comrade’s inquiry about what is being done for our injured heroes and their families when they are brought back stateside.

I would like to let you know of one of the best military nonprofits I’ve come across that is actually based out of the District and has been recognized by President Bush as being part of the America Supports You network. It is called the Armed Forces Foundation (AFF), and it promotes the morale, welfare and quality of life of the armed forces community, including those on active duty, in the National Guard and reserve, retired personnel and families.

I have had the opportunity to see firsthand the foundation’s dedication mostly through its monthly dinner parties for the patients at the National Naval Medical Center as well as Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The foundation staff is dedicated to the military community and helps in every way possible.

A few programs offered are career counseling, housing assistance and bereavement.

The foundation is in the midst of helping to build an energy-efficient home for a retired paralyzed veteran in North Carolina, which is just one of its current projects. It has been a pleasure to assist the AFF staff as a volunteer, and I truly recommend anybody connected with the military to contact the foundation regarding any type of assistance or need they may have.

Its Web site is armedforcesfoundation.org, and their phone number is 202/547-4713.

Truly,

AFF Volunteer

Finksburg, Md.

Dear Volunteer:

Thanks for the heads-up.

Shaft notes

Congratulations to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) on winning the 2007 National Optimas Award. The award was given by Workforce Management, a leading business publication for work force management and human resources professionals, for OPM’s innovations in combining technology and human services solutions.

“The 2007 Optimas Awards winners demonstrate the positive bottom-line results that come from superior work force management,” said Todd Johnson, publisher of Workforce Management. “These organizations embody the ethics, efficient practices and creative inspiration that directly impacts and enhances business results.”

Workforce Management is one of the oldest and one of the largest continuously published business magazines in the United States.

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, P.O. 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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