- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Dear Sgt. Shaft,

As an Air Force member with 16 years service, I was drawn into a reduction in force during the mid-1990s. I previously had met physical and medical evaluation boards and was found fit for duty with a “permanent” physical profile limiting worldwide duty and physical fitness test requirements.

When the reduction in force was initiated, I was close to my yearly physical review. A friend relayed to me that personnel in my position were being marked for review and separation, so I did the only thing I could do and applied for Voluntary Separation Incentive (VSI) pay, for which I was approved. The next year, the 15-year early retirement option was added. With an additional year, I could have applied for this option.

I have discussed the matter with service personnel and correction of military records is out of the question. For me to receive retroactive early retirement benefits, Congress would need to enact legislation to approve this action.

I know I am not alone. Has Congress made any allowances for people in my situation? — Rodger S. via the Web

Dear Rodger,

My sources are unaware of any legislative proposal to make retroactive an opportunity to retire through the Temporary Early Retirement Authority (TERA) program for those who signed up for VSI or a Special Separation Benefit. The program never targeted those with 14½ years or more of service until TERA was put in place. Sounds like your buddy may have given you some bad information.

Shaft Notes

Semper Fi and congratulations to Gen. James F. Amos, who was recently nominated by the President to serve as the 35th commandant of the Marine Corps:

A Naval aviator by trade, General Amos has held command at all levels from Lieutenant Colonel to Lieutenant General. Most notably he commanded the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing in combat during Operations Iraqi Freedom I and II from 2002-2004, followed by command of the II Marine Expeditionary Force from 2004-2006. He subsequently served as the Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command and as the Deputy Commandant, Combat Development and Integration from 2006 to July 2008. General Amos was promoted to his present rank and assumed the duties of Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps on 2 July 2008.

Operational assignments include tours with Marine Fighter Attack Squadrons 212, 235, 232 and 122 where he flew the F-4 Phantom II. In 1985 General Amos assumed command of Marine Wing Support Squadron 173. Later, transitioning to the F/A-18 Hornet, he assumed command of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312 and subsequently joined Carrier Air Wing Eight onboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). General Amos took command of Marine Aircraft Group 31 Beaufort, SC in May 1996.

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Rep. Bob Filner has secured approval from Congress for his resolution supporting the “Spirit of ‘45,” a yearlong national campaign to raise public awareness of the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II:

“I’m happy to announce my legislation supporting the ‘Spirit of ‘45’ has passed! The ‘Spirit of ‘45’ campaign has a broad vision — to increase awareness of the anniversary of the end of World War II, to encourage communities across the country to celebrate this historic day and to preserve the stories of those who experienced that momentous day.

“The ‘Spirit of ‘45’ campaign encourages communities to hold commemorative events, as well as to collect first-hand memories of those who experienced August 14, 1945 — memories that will be preserved on a web site and shared with schools, libraries, museums, memorials and the public. Many of the memories may also be provided to the Veterans History Project of the Library of Congress. Stories can be submitted via the www.spiritof45.org website.”

• 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.