- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 27, 2007

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

I had active duty for training in the enlisted Reserve from 1951 to 1954, commissioned active duty from April ‘54 to April ‘56 and then more than 30 years of Reserve service until retirement. I currently receive retired pay. Your Feb. 27 column says:

“One cannot receive credit for these special extra earnings if they are already receiving a federal benefit based on the same years of service. There is one exception: If the person were on active duty after 1956, they can still get the special earnings for 1951 through 1956, even if they are receiving a military retirement based on service during that period.” Does that rule me out since my service after April 1956 was “active duty for training?”

Jim T

Bloomfield, Conn.

Dear Jim:

My sources tell me that you are eligible to receive special military credit for Social Security for service years before 1956. Bring your DD Form 214 or Report of Separation into your local Social Security office and ask them to “recompute your benefit.” If the bureaucrats don’t understand or blow you off, ask to talk to their supervisor.

Shaft notes

Both family and friends will bid a sad farewell to good buddy Bobby Moran at 9 a.m. Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery.

Bobby, who passed away May 9 at 56 in St. Luke’s Hospital in Jacksonville, Fla., was born in Evansville, Ind., and moved to Florida in 1992 from the D.C. area.

He was a special assistant to the director of Bay Pines VA Health Care System. He attended Calvary Chapel church. He was an Army veteran of the Vietnam War and received a Purple Heart. He was a past president of the Seminole Rotary Club and a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Evansville.

Survivors include his wife, Janet; a son, Robert A. Moran of Baltimore; a daughter, Melissa Moran of St. Petersburg, Fla.; a brother, Michael L. Moran of Evansville; and two grandsons, Casey Stine and Logan Pulcifer, both of St. Petersburg.

We will surely miss his quick wit and sense of humor in spite of his severe disabilities.

• The Sarge joins the Veterans of Foreign Wars in opposing a scurrilous Web site plea by presidential candidate and former Sen. John Edwards, North Carolina Democrat, to encourage war protests at Memorial Day events across the country.

“Memorial Day is a solemn occasion to remember the service and sacrifice of more than 1 million American servicemen and women who gave their lives to create our nation, to save our union and to help free the world from tyranny,” said Gary Kurpius, who leads the 2.4-million-member VFW, the nation’s oldest major veterans organization and its largest organization of combat veterans.

“Memorial Day is not a time to call people to protest the war in Iraq under the guise of supporting the troops,” he said. “To do so dishonors those who served, those who continue to serve and to the families who grieve.”

The candidate’s message is a link from his main Web site to another site that lists 10 things people can do over the Memorial Day weekend to “support the troops and end the war.”

“My generation went to war with a divided country and Congress, and our nation does not need to relive that experience ever again,” said Mr. Kurpius, a Vietnam veteran from Anchorage, Alaska.

“Calling for protests for political gain is not how you support the troops. You support them by ensuring they are fully trained, equipped and funded, and you ensure they and their families are taken care of every step of the way,” he said.

• Kudos to the Department of Veterans Affairs for dramatic success at one of its medical centers with reducing the infection rate from a common, drug-resistant, hospital-borne bacterium.

Using simple, easy-to-follow techniques, clinicians at VA’s Pittsburgh Health Care System reduced the number of cases of infection from methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) at their facility. MRSA is a dangerous and difficult to eradicate infection that can cause pneumonia or infect wounds and the bloodstream. The program has been expanded to all VA medical centers.

“VA is a proven leader in reducing hospital-acquired infections, and our results are being replicated already throughout the health care industry,” said Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson. “By expanding this successful program to all of our medical centers, we will enhance health care and safety for our veteran patients.”

MRSA is primarily spread through direct physical contact with a person or object carrying the bacterium. Typically, it resides on the skin or in the nose. In one of the program’s major strategies, VA health care professionals use nasal swabs to test each patient being admitted, transferred or discharged from a health care facility to determine whether they carry the organism.

VA is implementing this infection-prevention program at all 155 VA medical centers across the country.

• 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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