- The Washington Times - Monday, January 29, 2007

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

I was on active duty for six years and in the Active Air Force Reserve for six years. Now I am working for the federal government, and I want to get credit for my time in both services, towards my retirement benefits with the Forest Service (buyback program). I wrote and got a statement showing my active-duty earned wages. I hope this was the right info. What about the points I made while in the Reserves? How do I get this information? Do the points I earned in the Reserves count toward the buyback program?

Rob S.

Susanville, Calif.

Dear Rob:

Those in the know at the Office of Personnel Management suggest that you review the VetGuide service credit chapter to better understand what service counts for leave accrual and retirement purposes with the federal government. Because each case is unique, you also should be working with your agency’s human resources department to determine what documentation they require with regard to this type of request. You can review the VetGuide at: http://www.opm.gov/veterans/html/vetguide.asp

Shaft Notes

The Sarge salutes General Dynamics for its donation of $100,000 to Our Military Kids Inc., a McLean-based nonprofit dedicated to funding essential extracurricular activities for children of deployed Reserve and National Guard military.

In announcing this award, Nicholas Chabraja, chairman of the board and CEO of General Dynamics said, “This group provides an invaluable service to the children of deployed Reserve and National Guard military personnel by awarding grants that allow the children to continue extracurricular activities while their parents serve our country. Investing in Our Military Kids is an excellent way to support families of U.S. military.”

To date, Our Military Kids has recognized more 1,000 children and provided grants to children in 47 states and the District, and to all branches of the Reserves and National Guard military.

• The Sarge joins the National Commander of the American Legion, Paul A. Morin, in voicing his appreciation to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for their leadership role in reinstating the traditional joint sessions of the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees for veterans’ service organizations.

Mr. Morin also thanked the Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs Committees’ leadership for their efforts in reinstating the American Legion’s full voice on Capitol Hill. This wise decision restores vital congressional forums for the entire veterans’ community, Mr. Morin said. The groundswell of support for restoring these joint sessions by the grass roots at the local, state and national level was overwhelming.

• Recently wounded veterans from the global war on terror will be among 350 disabled veterans who will ski the Rocky Mountains at the 21st National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic in Snowmass Village, Colo., April 1-6.

“The daily courage and determination of these true American heroes are examples for us all,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson. “The men and women of the Department of Veterans Affairs are proud to serve these wounded and disabled veterans on their path to recovery.”

The annual winter clinic is a rehabilitation program open to all U.S. military veterans with spinal-cord injuries or disease, visual impairments, certain neurological conditions, orthopedic amputations or other disabilities who receive care at any Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care facility.

Last year, more than 55 newly injured veterans challenged themselves against the slopes. During the six-day program, veterans will learn adaptive Alpine and Nordic skiing and be introduced to a variety of other adaptive activities and sports, such as rock climbing, snowmobiling and sled hockey. The U.S. Secret Service also will teach a course on self-defense for people with disabilities.

Most notably, however, the clinic again will offer a training and development program designed for top-level skiers. The program has been made possible through an agreement with the U.S. Olympic Committee and is used to identify potential Paralympic athletes.

Jointly sponsored by VA and the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), the clinic is hosted each year by the Grand Junction (Colo.) VA Medical Center and VA’s Rocky Mountain Network.

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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