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SGT. SHAFT: Benefits sought for widowed mother

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dear Sgt. Shaft,

I read your article on a bill you are working on for vets. My father served with the Army Air Corps in Boise, Idaho, from 1942 to 1945, during World War II. He died in 1993 and my mother never applied for any benefits from the military. She is now 91 years old and currently receiving Social Security for his work history. Is she entitled to anything now? Please advise. — Thank you for any consideration, JC

Dear JC,

I suggest you contact the Department of Veterans Affairs to file a claim for your Mom. The information that you provided is not sufficient enough to make an eligibility determination. You can assist your mother by completing an online application, available at www.va.gov.

Shaft notes

The Sarge is looking forward to joining the Military Officers Association of America in discussing issues of wounded warriors and their families at the fourth annual Defense Forum Washington conference, held Sept. 10 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Capitol Hill.

The forum, "A New Normal: How is the War Within Transforming Our Force and Families," is co-hosted by the U.S. Naval Institute.

The day-long forum features talks by Sen. Jim Webb; Tammy Duckworth, assistant secretary of Veterans Affairs for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs; and several panels with key leaders, wounded troops, and family members.

Panel topics include "Navigating Recovery: Are We Meeting Needs and Expectations," "Confronting the Reintegration Process — Embracing the Experience" and "The New Normal: Hope for the Future."

Registration for the DFW is at www.defenseforumwashington.com.

                                                           • • •

Another event to help vets will be the 2nd Annual Bubba's Belly Run (http://www.runwashington.com/news/2821/314/Bubba-s-Belly-Run-to-Honor-America-s-Fallen-Heroes/htm), held on Sept. 26 at Bullis School in Potomac, Md.:

Bubba's Belly Run is a 5K run in honor and memory of Captain Brian "Bubba" Bunting, a fallen hero who was killed last year while serving the United States in Afghanistan, leaving behind a young son and expecting wife. The race is held on the weekend of their wedding anniversary, when Bubba's race originally began. Today, they have two amazing children, Connor and Cooper, who strive to be just like their father.

The goal of Bubba's Belly Run is to help organizations each year that assist in the healing of families who have lost loved ones at war. In addition to the 5K race, there will also be a maternity walk as well as a fun run for all ages. Last year more than 800 runners turned out to help raise more than $56,000!

Just like our military troops, teamwork is needed to get this race up and running. For more information about volunteering, sponsorships, donating, or race and registration information, please visit www.bubbasbellyrun.com or email at info@bubbasbellyrun.com.

                                                          • • •

Hannah Rudstam of the Northeast ADA Center at Cornell University recently discussed the need to include Afghanistan and Iraq veterans in efforts inclusiveness in workplace. Miss Rudstam made these comments during Cornell's celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act:

Rudstam said employers can start the inclusiveness process by asking themselves how people with disabilities fare in their organizations.

"Are they hired? Are they coached? Are their talents and contributions valued? Are accommodations provided quickly and effectively?

"Ultimately, what happens generally to workers with disabilities in the workplace will happen to veterans with disabilities," Rudstam said.

"The best way to welcome veterans with disabilities back into the workforce is to provide workplace conditions, practices and environments that enable them to fully apply their talents and skills to their jobs."

Despite federal legislation mandating rights for people with disabilities in workplaces and other sites, four of every five Americans with disabilities is unemployed. Fifty-four million people in the United States have disabilities.

"Representing nearly 20 percent of our population, people with disabilities rarely are the focus of diversity efforts. This exclusion is not only problematic on moral grounds, it also compromises the ability of employers to fully engage the talents of their employees," Rudstam said.

"Next time you're at work, look around. According to the U.S. Social Security Administration, about one-third of the people in your workplace will acquire a long-term disability before reaching the age of 60.

"For these people, having an employer with effective disability inclusiveness policies will make the difference between staying in or exiting the work force.

"Disability inclusiveness isn't just about the law or about empathy," Rudstam said. "Employers who provide accommodations enabling people with a disability to remain effective in their jobs will reap the benefits of maintaining a fully engaged workforce."

I agree with Miss Rudstam that it is about time that American institutes of higher learning show concern for our wounded warriors — starting with Cornell University, whose track record for hiring is MIA.

• Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, P.O. Box 65900, Washington, DC 20035-5900; fax: 301/622-3330; call: 202/257-5446; or e-mail sgtshaft@bavf.org.

 

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