SGT. SHAFT: WAVES eligible to apply for benefits

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Dear Sgt. Shaft:

I want to thank you for your well-written article on aid and attendance. Thank you for concise thoughts.

I hope you can assist me in gaining benefit information for my mother. She was in the Women’s Auxiliary Voluntarily Emergency Services (WAVES) during World War II. She was stationed at the National Naval

Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Any information you might know would be greatly appreciated. I’ve spent hours looking through the VA Web site with no results.

Thank you,
Heidi B
Via the Internet

Dear Heide:

Those in the know at the VA tell me that the Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Services (WAVES) was started in July 1942 by the enactment of PL 689, H.R. 6807, establishing the Women’s Reserve and the commissioning of the first female Naval Officer, Mildred H. Fover as a lieutenant commander and director of the WAVES.

Within one year, there were more than 27,000 WAVES in service, both enlisted and commissioned. In 1948, PL 625, the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, formalized the permanence of female members of all armed services. WAVES members are considered a part of the active naval service. They are, like all veterans, eligible to apply for VA benefits.

Shaft notes

The Sarge joins Thomas J. Tradewell Sr., commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S., in his admonishment of the Department of Defense in which he said that any attempt to link rising military personnel costs with shrinking military readiness is total nonsense.

“If the Defense Department needs a larger budget for personnel programs, then let the VFW carry that message to Congress. Just don’t pin the budget blame on service members and military retirees.”

Tradewell’s ire is targeted at the new DOD undersecretary of personnel and readiness, Clifford L. Stanley, who in recent testimony before the personnel subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said: “Rising personnel costs could dramatically affect the readiness of the department.”

His predecessor, Dr. David Chu, took the same position in a January 2005 Wall Street Journal article, by saying, “The amounts have gotten to the point where they are hurtful. They are taking away from the nation’s ability to defend itself.”

Tradewell, a combat-wounded Vietnam veteran from Sussex, Wisc., said: “What’s hurtful is a continuing perception that DOD is more concerned about the budget than they are about recruiting and retaining a professional volunteer force that’s been at war now for more than eight years.”

According to the testimony, last year was the military’s most successful recruiting year since the establishment of the all-volunteer force in 1973. Stanley, a retired Marine Corps major general, said in order to continue that recruiting trend, the department must provide a compensation package comparable and competitive to the private sector.

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