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SGT. SHAFT: USS Weiss APD 135 added to Agent Orange exposure list

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

The USS Weiss APD 135, I feel, should be on the Agent Orange exposure ship list also. It was the only class of ship with that designation at the time and could have been easily overlooked.

I served on the USS Weiss APD 135 from around May 1962 until June 1966. The ship did support missions inland and did transit the Saigon River, etc. I earned the Vietnam ribbon with two bronze stars (3 tours) and the Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Oak Leaf. We did support the UDT and Marine RECON --- among other missions.

I don't remember a whole lot, but I do remember being involved in several missions plus firing our 5-inch gun and being close enough to land that we had to stay off the main deck due to the possibility of small arms fire. Also a friend of mine that served on the USS Weiss at the time was diagnosed with Agent Orange.

After reading the article in the "FRA Today," I was really expecting to see my ship on the list. Is there any way that this can be followed up on? I feel sure the USS Weiss should be on the list.

Thank you,
Lamar A.
USN Retired
Via the Internet

Dear Lamar:

Based on the research of my sources, the USS Weiss will be added to the Agent Orange exposure ship list, as shown below.

USS Weiss (APD/LPR-135) [High Speed Transport/Small Amphibious Transport] conducted troop-landing operations with Marine and SEAL units at various locations in the Mekong River Delta and Rung Sat Special Zone and routinely surveyed river mouths and canal entrances for amphibious landings from November 1965 through February 1969.

Shaft notes

Kudos to the Department of Veterans Affairs for requiring companies identifying themselves as small businesses or veteran-owned businesses in order to gain priority for some contracts to verify their their status. These companies must now provide documentation within 90 days of receiving notice from the agency.

"VA is committed to doing business with as well as supporting and protecting veteran-owned small businesses," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "Although the verification process may initially be a challenge to some small business owners and to VA, it's a necessary step to eliminate misrepresentation by firms trying to receive contracts that should go to service-disabled and other veteran-owned vendors."

The Veterans Benefits Act of 2010, signed by the president on Oct. 13, expanded VA's requirement to verify the status of businesses claiming veterans preference to compete for VA contracts by being listed in VA's VetBiz.gov "Vendor Information Pages" (VIP) database. Companies will have to submit an application to substantiate their status as owned and controlled by veterans, service-disabled veterans or eligible surviving spouses. Only companies that submit the information will be listed in the VIP database.

The law requires VA to notify currently listed businesses that within 90 days of the veteran-owned business receiving the notice, it must submit certain business documents. VA sent notices to more than 13,000 listed businesses by e-mail and mail Dec. 10-11. Other companies, wanting to be listed in the database and considered for future set-aside VA contracts, also have to submit application packages. VA will work on those verifications after the existing listings are verified.

The department plans to post additional information at www.VetBiz.gov in early February informing applicants how to submit their documents electronically. In the meantime, VA's notice to currently listed businesses encourages them to submit their information on CD-ROM.

Priority processing will be given to those veteran-owned firms that are in line to receive a set-aside contract from VA, those that already conduct business with VA, and those that have already filed an application for verification.

For more information, visit the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization's website at www.va.gov/OSDBU/veteran/verification.asp or the main page at www.va.gov/osdbu/.

Best wishes to m Ms. Geraldine Feaster, Chief Nurse Executive of the Washington DC VA Medical Center (DCVAMC) retired today after 45 years of service to VA – all at the VA Medical Center.

Ms. Feaster was a young nursing student when she came to work for DCVAMC in 1965. By the time she announced her retirement she was responsible for the entire nursing program of the Medical Center and a staff of over 600. Ms. Feaster earned both Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Nursing while working at the Medical Center. She held many positions of increasing responsibility over her years at the hospital and in 2005; she was appointed Chief Nurse Executive.

Over the years, Ms. Feaster has mentored scores of young women and men, encouraging them to work hard and follow their dreams, as she did. DCVAMC Nursing Service has made great strides during her tenure. The nursing team is frequently recognized for their quality care and patient safety achievements.

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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