- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 4, 2008

Dear Sgt. Shaft: The Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) and the United States Naval Institute (USNI) are partnering to sponsor a major defense forum about wounded warriors and their families on Sept. 17 at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.

The daylong forum, “Measuring Success: Keeping Faith with Wounded Warriors and Their Families,” will feature panel members and key guest speakers such as Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee; Veterans Affairs Secretary James B. Peake; Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England; and Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Registration is free for active-duty, $20 for MOAA and USNI members and $35 for all others. A lunch is included with registration. Register by calling 1-800/233-8764 or online at www.defenseforumwashington.com.

I hope that your readers and you will join us for what promises to be an exceptional event.

Sincerely,

Norb Ryan Jr., USN-retired

President, Military Officers Association of America (MOAA)

Dear Admiral:

I am looking forward to joining you and many of my readers at this important symposium. The future needs of our wounded warriors and their families must be the highest priority of our country. Merely saying thanks for your service is not enough.

Congratulations to the Fleet Reserve Association (FRA), which is sponsoring an online survey to identify the challenges associated with finding and maintaining employment for military spouses. The survey is available on the Association’s OnWatch newsletter page: www.fra.org/onwatch.

A transient lifestyle, frequent deployments and other facets of military life often make it difficult for military spouses to find suitable work. This survey is focused on spouses of active duty and reserve personnel, and will also help determine spouses’ awareness and use of the employment resources available to assist in meeting those challenges.

“FRA believes spouse employment is an important component of the quality of life for military families and has a direct impact on military readiness and retention,” said Joe Barnes, FRA’s national executive director.

The association will use the survey results to shape its legislative advocacy efforts. FRA will also discuss the survey results with the senior enlisted leaders of the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, and feature their comments on spouse employment in the next edition of OnWatch.

The OnWatch home page also features a link to a discussion forum about spouse employment and offers the E-10’s views, a feature story and the results of our previous survey on military education benefits.

Shaft notes

Congratulations to Sen. Jim Webb, Virginia Democrat, who recently was awarded the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Gold Medal and Citation of Merit for his leadership in sponsoring the Post 9/11 GI Bill, which was signed into law on June 30. The commander in chief of the VFW presented the award to Mr. Webb at the organization’s national convention in Orlando for “recognition of exceptional service rendered the country, community and mankind.”

“Senator Webb made a vow to create a new GI Bill for the 21st century. He kept that promise, and it is my honor and privilege to present the VFW Gold Medal and Citation to Senator Webb for his efforts,” said VFW Commander in Chief George Lisicki. “Credit is due to Senator Webb for building the ship and successfully steering it for almost 19 months to success.

“The VFW had been pushing for a new GI Bill for 10 years,” Mr. Lisicki said. “We had called, written, testified, and met with every member and staffer. We were greeted with sympathetic ears, but what we needed was a champion in the corner of America’s newest greatest generation. We needed someone who could reason and negotiate across party lines like a gentleman, yet push through obstacles with bulldog tenacity. That someone was Jim Webb.”

Mr. Webb introduced the Post-9/11 GI Bill on Jan. 3, 2007, his first day in office. The newly enacted landmark legislation provides veterans of the post-Sept. 11 era with comprehensive educational benefits similar to those provided to veterans of World War II.

“In early ‘06, we began with the simple concept that those who have been serving since 9/11 should have the same opportunity for a first class educational future as those who served during World War II. Today, we can celebrate the achievement of that goal,” said Mr. Webb. “I am honored to receive this award from the VFW, a group that was integral to this bill’s success. The collaboration and support of the VFW during the past year and a half were very much a key to its passage.

“I know that those who were at the VFW convention can attest that there are no politics here. This is about properly honoring service to country, and taking care of the people who have taken care of us,” Mr. Webb said.

This is Mr. Webb’s second Gold Medal and Citation from the VFW. In 2001, he was awarded the News Media Award for outstanding contributions in promoting a greater understanding of the American way of life. “His literary work has brought critical acclaim and through his honest and forthright reporting, his outspoken criticism of revisionist history and his defense of the facts regarding Vietnam Veterans,” reads the award.

Over the course of his career in government and as a writer, Mr. Webb has received numerous other awards from veterans organizations, including the American Legion’s National Commander’s Public Relations Award, the Marine Corps League’s Iron Mike award, and the Medal of Honor Society’s Patriot Award, an honor he shares with former President Ronald Reagan. Mr. Webb was also invited to deliver the keynote address to the American Legion’s national convention at the end of August.

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.

The future needs of our wounded warriors and their families must be the highest priority of our country. Merely saying thanks for your service is not enough.

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