SGT. SHAFT: Too late for TERA?

Dear Sgt. Shaft,

I am an Army veteran with more than 16 years of active service time, living in the Fort Knox, Ky., area. While applying for employment with the new Human Resources Command, I was told to have my records viewed for an error. I should have been offered retirement under the Temporary Early Retirement Authority (TERA) progam, which applies to fiscal 1993 through fiscal 2001. I separated from service on Sept. 9, 1993, and was given separation pay, but not informed of TERA. Could I have applied for this option? Can I apply for this option now? — Army vet via the Web

Dear Vet,

My sources at the Military Officers Association of America tell me that as far as they can determine, services were not required to offer TERA to members who were leaving the service prior to completing twenty years of service. You were given separation pay. You may apply to the BCMR to have your separation re-characterized as a regular retirement under TERA. If that is approved — unlikely in their view — the government will recoup the separation pay, but you could receive arrears of retired pay.

Shaft notes

Rep. Bob Filner, California Democrat and House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman, announced that the House approved legislation to address the unique medical concerns of women veterans and injured and amputee veterans. The bill requires that all VA facilities post a bill of rights as a way to bolster the consistency of VA care and address gaps in care reported by these veteran patient populations:

“Through the hearings and roundtable discussions that the Committee held during this year, veterans have come forward to share their personal stories,” said Chairman Filner. “Although the VA has made some strides in caring for combat veterans — both male and female, significant gaps remain. H.R. 5953 would require VA to display in all of their facilities the 24 fundamental principles governing their treatment of women veterans, as well as require VA to widely distribute the bill of rights to women veterans. The bill would also instruct the VA to inform veterans and educate employees at each VA prosthetics and orthotics clinic of the Injured and Amputee Veterans’ Bill of Rights.”

                                                              • • •

Kudos to the VA for amending its adjudication regulations concerning presumptive service connection for medically unexplained chronic multisymptom illnesses associated with service in the Southwest Asia theater of operations for which there is no record during service:

This amendment is necessary to implement a decision of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs that there is a positive association between service in Southwest Asia during certain periods and the subsequent development of functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs), and to clarify that FGIDs fall within the scope of the existing presumption of service connection for medically unexplained chronic multisymptom illnesses. The intended effect of this amendment is to clarify the presumption of service connection for these illnesses based on service in the Southwest Asia theater of operations during the Persian Gulf War.

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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