- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dear Sgt Shaft:

In regard to your recent advice to a vet concerning concerning Agent Orange, enlarged prostate and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are not presumptive conditions associated with this defoliant. If these conditions were diagnosed on active duty, however, then that is another story.

Also, any one with boots on the ground is considered to have been exposed to AO for VA compensation purposes.

Steve,
Via the Internet

Dear Steve,

As I stated in my column, I asked Jim from the Paralyzed Veterans of America to contact the vet in question to review his interest in applying for VA compensation.

Shaft notes

Rep. Gus Bilirakis, Florida Republican and vice chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, recently held a roundtable with veteran-owned businesses in the Tampa Bay area to gather input regarding the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ application process for receiving Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSB) status.

Mr. Bilirakis addressed these concerns at a Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on Wednesday that examined the certification process, which has received criticism for being inefficient and burdensome.

“I’m concerned that the VA is not processing and certifying these veteran-owned businesses adequately. Delays in the certification process are inhibiting these companies and harming much-needed job creation,” said Mr. Bilirakis, who has reached out to the VA to expedite the process on behalf of local companies.

Mr. Bilirakis highlighted the specific case of B C Peabody, a Tampa-based construction company that was verified as a SDVOSB in December 2009 under the former self-verifying process. In 2010, retired Col. Bob Carpenter, the company’s founder and CEO, applied for SDVOSB re-verification under the new system.

While the re-verification was pending, the company competed for more than 17 months for a VA construction contract in Florida. B C Peabody, a company made up primarily of veterans, won the contract, which will provide work for the company for the next five years, and was given a deadline of Dec. 6, 2011, to have its SDVOSB status verified by the VA.

Col. Carpenter has yet to receive verification, and while a timely reconsideration review does not guarantee that verification will be granted, a lack of timely reconsideration does guarantee that the pending contract will be lost and several people will lose their jobs.

The Sarge has also received numerous complaints from disabled veterans concerning the deplorable and cumbersome application process for receiving SDVOSB status. Arrogance seems to be the most appropriate word to describe the leadership that guides the VA entity that handles this SDVOSB program.

I highly recommend that these VA bureaucrats read the following words of A. Lawrence Vaincourt before they haphazardly turn down a disabled vet’s small business application.

Story Continues →