- 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.

JUST A COMMON SOLDIER

He was getting old and paunchy and his hair falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion, telling stories of the past
Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies; they were heroes, every one.
And tho’ sometimes, to his neighbors, his tales became a joke,
All his Legion buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke.
But we’ll hear his tales no longer for old Bill has passed away,
And the world’s a little poorer, for a soldier died today.
He will not be mourned by many, just his children and his wife,
For he lived an ordinary and quite uneventful life.
Held a job and raised a family, quietly going his own way,
And the world won’t note his passing, though a soldier died today.
When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing and proclaim that they were great.
Papers tell their whole life stories, from the time that they were young,
But the passing of a soldier goes unnoticed and unsung.
Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land
A guy who breaks his promises and cons his fellow man?
Or the ordinary fellow who, in times of war and strife,
Goes to serve his Country and offers up his life?
A politician’s stipend and the style in which he lives
Are sometimes disproportionate to the service that he gives.
While the ordinary soldier, who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal and perhaps, a pension small.
It’s so easy to forget them for it was so long ago
That the old Bills of our Country went to battle, but we know
It was not the politicians, with their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom that our Country now enjoys.
Should you find yourself in danger, with your enemies at hand,
Would you want a politician with his ever-shifting stand?
Or would you prefer a soldier, who has sworn to defend
His home, his kin and Country and would fight until the end?
He was just a common soldier and his ranks are growing thin,
For when the countries are in conflict, then we find the soldier’s part
Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.
If we cannot do him honor while he’s here to hear the praise,
Then at least let’s give him his homage at the ending of his days.
Perhaps just a simple headline in a paper that would say,
Our Country is in mourning, for a soldier died today.

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