- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 9, 2009

Dear Sgt. Shaft,

I have been asked to try to locate a person whose dog tag was found. The markings are as follows:

MELVIN

OSCAR

PARTEN

T9/42

USNR

-O-

I believe the fourth line refers to the date of a tetanus vaccine, and the fifth line is service (Naval Reserve?) and then blood type?

I also read somewhere that the ID number’s first four digits might indicate an area and city for the soldier. I can’t locate this guy in any federal cemetery, Social Security death index, nothing.

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Detective Douglas Scheller

UW-Madison Police Department

Dear Detective Scheller,

My sources have provided me with the following information concerning your dog-tag inquiry:

Melvin Oscar Parten was born March 4, 1903. He was a World War II veteran who served in the Navy from Sept. 2, 1942 to July 25, 1945. Mr. Parten died Sept. 24, 1974; cause is unknown. Our electronic records indicate that he lived in Texas at one point, but no specific information is available. There is no reference to any surviving dependents or that he was receiving VA benefits during his lifetime.

Dear Sgt. Shaft,

I heard you speak at the Coalition for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans conference in Washington on May 5 and hope you can help us out.

Homes for Our Troops has been given 15 bib numbers for fundraising runners to enter the Marine Corps Marathon in October, and we need help attracting runners who want to support our mission to provide free adaptable homes for injured veterans.

We need to get the word out to anyone thinking of entering the USMC Marathon and let them know that we have 15 spots left on our team. I know the marathon is in October but planning, training and raising funds could take months for some individuals, and we would appreciate any assistance you could provide us.

Here is the Homes for Our Troops Marathon team background and registration info: The USMC Marathon is Oct. 25, and Homes for Our Troops requires a minimum donation of $1,000 to join the team. Bib numbers for this race are still available, and runners can apply at www.homesforourtroops.org/usmcmarathon.

Thanks for your help.

Steve Keohane

Director of development

Homes for Our Troops

6 Main St.

Taunton, MA 02780

Phone: 508/823-3300

Dear Steve,

I urge those few good men and women to volunteer their talent and endurance for this worthy cause.

Shaft notes

• VA eligibility now makes it easier for more veterans to enroll in VA’s health care system. VA has relaxed income restrictions on enrollment for health benefits. While this new provision does not remove consideration of income, it does increase income thresholds.

A Web-based calculator is available for veterans to enter their income information to assess if their income would fall within the proposed income threshold adjustments.

Veterans are encouraged to contact VA’s Health Resource Center at 877/222-VETS (8387) or visit the VA health eligibility Web site for more information.

• Kudos to the House of Representatives for passing H.R. 1016, landmark legislation to secure timely funding for veterans’ health care delivered through the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). Rep. Bob Filner, California Democrat and chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, announced passage of the bill that would authorize the “advance appropriations” process. The bill provides Congress greater ability to develop appropriation bills that provide sufficient funding to meet the best estimate of anticipated demand for VA health care services in future years by allowing funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical accounts one year in advance.

“Today, this House of Representatives took action to respond to years of chronic underfunding of VA medical care,” Mr. Filner said. “Over the last 22 years, 19 VA budgets have been passed late - and our veterans pay the price with fewer doctors, longer waiting times, and more restricted access for the 6 million veterans using VA health care. Members of the committee have worked closely with veterans service organizations to pass this landmark bill and guarantee that our veterans have access to comprehensive, quality health care.”

H.R. 1016 would authorize Congress to approve VA medical care appropriations one year in advance of the start of each fiscal year. An advance appropriation would provide VA with up to one year in which to plan how to deliver the most efficient and effective care to an increasing number of veterans with increasingly complex medical conditions. Unlike proposals to convert VA health care to a mandatory funding program, an advance appropriation does not create “pay as you go” concerns since VA health care funding would remain discretionary. Congress employs a ‘pay-go’ rule, which demands that new proposals must either be budget neutral or offset with savings elsewhere.

Additionally, VA will be required to detail estimates in the budget documents it submits annually to Congress. Each July, the VA will be required to report to Congress if it has the resources it needs for the upcoming fiscal year, in order for Congress to address any funding imbalances. This will help to safeguard against the VA facing budget shortfalls such as it faced just a few years ago.

Sen. Daniel K. Akaka, Hawaii Democrat and chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, introduced a companion bill in the Senate, S. 423.

• 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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