- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dear Sgt. Shaft.

My husband has been diagnosed with PTSD, but the VA won’t process his claim until he can find someone from his company that can verify the incident that caused his illness. I have tried almost everything to find these people but no luck the VA says he only has 30 days to get this done. Any suggestions or could you help us. 

Thank you
Stacy H

Dear Stacy,

I understand that some veterans have had success by writing to the company commander, platoon commander or squad leader, as appropriate. Their statement may carry more weight because of their leadership positions. They may be more able to collaborate his story simply because they may have been more involved in reporting the incident, and more willing to do so because of their duty to take care of their troops. The important issue is to notify the VA that you are gathering this information and then submit it as soon as possible.

Shaft notes

The House of Representatives has unanimously passed H.R. 5014 to allow the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to make the determination that Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care constitutes minimal essential coverage under the health care program established by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

“The 417-0 vote clearly refutes a number of misguided assurances,” said House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Steve Buyer.

“It refutes assurances by the Obama Administration that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provided protections for veterans. It refutes assurances by House Democrat leadership that the bill was not flawed, and it refutes media reports that my concerns and efforts to protect the VA health care system were false alarms.

“Clearly the bill was deeply flawed otherwise this corrective measure would not be necessary. The Democrats knew it and yet they jammed the legislation down the throats of America’s veterans and tried to depict anyone who opposed it as a fear monger and obstructionist. I find this shameful, and I am glad that today’s vote vindicates my actions.”

Over the past year, Buyer, made every possible effort to ensure that the VA health care system would remain independent of other government bureaucracies.

Buyer’s efforts included introducing an amendment and a stand-alone bill, H.R. 4894, to protect VA from interference by other government agencies administering the various authorities contained in the massive Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

“I am pleased that my House colleagues finally recognized the importance of ensuring that our nation’s veterans are not subject to arbitrary and uninformed decisions by bureaucrats who do not understand or appreciate the solemn mission of the Department of Veterans Affairs,” Buyer said. “While today’s vote is welcome, it should not have taken this long and it should not have been necessary to press the majority to take action to protect those who protect us.”

The Sarge joins the VFW in saluting the generosity of a of a decorated combat veteran who wishes to remain anonymous. This patriotic individual has increased the reward fund for the cross-shaped Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial that was recently stolen from $25,000 to $125,000.

“We are extremely grateful for the $100,000 contribution to the Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial reward fund that the nonprofit group, Family Security Matters, was able to arrange from a private donor,” said Thomas J. Tradewell Sr., national commander of the 2.1 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. and its auxiliaries. 

“We may never know the donor’s name, but the VFW wants to personally thank him for caring enough to get involved,” he said. “These thieves desecrated a national war memorial that was erected to honor America’s war dead. They must be caught, prosecuted and jailed in a federal prison, and we hope that will happen quickly now that the total reward money has been upped to $125,000.”

Carol A. Taber, president of Family Security Matters, said she was honored to provide the donation on behalf of an anonymous, combat-wounded veteran and Silver Star recipient. 

“We are confident that our donor’s generosity will help to bring the criminals to justice,” she said, “and that the message rings loud and clear that we will never allow such a vile crime that defiles the memory of our nation’s war dead to stand — not now, not ever.”

Anyone with information relating to the crime should call the National Park Service Tip Line at 760/252-6120. The reward money is for information that directly leads to the apprehension and conviction of the thieves. To contribute to the reward fund, go to the Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial website at www.DontTearMeDown.com

• 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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