- The Washington Times - Monday, January 22, 2007

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

My comrade told me that he received an e-mail from a friend in Iraq inquiring about what is being done for the severely wounded when they arrive back stateside.

His buddy was injured and he is worried about him and his family.

Thanking you in advance,

Leon S.

Winchester, Va.

Dear Leon:

I am happy to say that last year the undersecretary of Veterans Affairs, retired Adm. Daniel Cooper, announced in this column a new program for service members suffering serious injuries, Traumatic Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (TSGLI). He explained that this insurance program will help families focus on recovery and adjustment back to military or civilian life and ease worries about financial difficulties.

The TSGLI benefit payments, ranging from $25,000 to $100,000, are made to service members who have suffered certain serious injuries while on active duty. The program became effective Dec. 1, 2005, and provides financial help to military families through extended periods of medical care and healing.

Benefits are also payable retroactively to Oct. 7, 2001, for service members.

He also encouraged those eligible, our heroes and their families, to contact the VA’s Web site (www.va.gov) or to call the Office of Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance at 800/419-1473.

I have also mentioned in past columns the Semper Fi Fund, which provides assistance to Navy and Marine members and their families.

In addition, the wounded warriors project was able to purchase beautiful condominiums at Bahama Bay in Davenport, Fla., and the Victorian in Galveston, Texas. These condominiums are for the families of those who have been wounded, injured or killed during combat operations. This project is able to provide two beautiful and peaceful settings where their families can go to find some recuperative solace.

Another organized effort worthy of note is Operation Homefront, a nonprofit dedicated to assisting U.S. military families. The agency was founded by military spouses and retirees, and focuses on a range of issues from home and auto repairs to scholarships and urgent financial assistance.

Shaft notes

The Sarge is once again looking forward to joining fellow members of the National Press Club, other press representatives and guests at a luncheon on Friday featuring actor Gary Sinise, who has agreed to serve as national spokesman for the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial to be built in the District.

This memorial will embody the nation’s lasting gratitude for the men and women whose lives are forever changed in service to our country. Authorized by Congress, the memorial will command an impressive 2-acre site adjacent to the National Mall, within full view of the Capitol.

Mr. Sinise is starring in the hit CBS show “CSI: New York.” His performance as a disabled Vietnam veteran in the movie “Forrest Gump” earned him an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor.

“It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to recognize the sacrifices that our country’s disabled veterans have made on behalf of us all,” Mr. Sinise said. “I am deeply moved to have been asked to participate in this absolutely necessary memorial. I can only hope that my participation will help draw attention to the cause and ensure its successful fruition as the nation’s first and only such tribute built specifically to these courageous men and women.”

“We are highly privileged that Gary Sinise has agreed to serve as national spokesman for our critically important effort,” said Lois Pope, foundation chairman. “His portrayal in ‘Forrest Gump’ of a soldier who loses his legs in the Vietnam conflict brought home the terrible price that our young men and women pay in the fight for our country’s freedom. Like his ‘Lt. Dan Taylor’ character, the 3 million living disabled veterans and all those throughout American history have given parts of their bodies and in some cases their minds to ensure the preservation and perpetuation of all our country stands for.”

Anyone interested in attending the luncheon should contact Pat Nelson at 202/662-7500.

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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