- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dear Sgt Shaft:

My name is Carol H. I contacted you some time back seeking assistance in proving my case that my husband, Ralph Huey, actually served in Vietnam and was exposed to Agent Orange. He died very young from lung cancer.

I just wanted to let you know that on March 30, 2011, I appeared in person in Washington, D.C., to present my case. I just received notification last week that I had won. I am so grateful.

I just wanted to share the good news with you and, especially, want to thank you for your assistance in this matter. It took me three years to bring this to a positive end, but I am certainly glad that I didn’t give up.

Thanks, again.
Carol

Dear Carol:

Glad to hear this good news, however, I can only help those who have earned these benefits.

Shaft notes

• The Sarge is looking forward to attending the Blinded American Veterans Foundation (BAVF) 26th annual special awards reception at 12:30 PM Today at the Cannon House Office Caucasus Room 345.

At the awards ceremonies, U.S. Representatives Jeff Miller, Florida Republican, and Phil Roe, Tennessee Republican, will receive the Foundation’s George “Buck” Gillispie Award for Meritorious Service. A special recognition award will also be presented to Rep. Bob Filner, California Democrat. The BAVF’s Carlton Sherwood Media Award will be presented to Maria Stainer of the Washington Times and writer David C. Hugel. The George W. Alexander Memorial Volunteer Awards will be presented to Marvin Harris (Military Officers Association) and another veterans’ advocate, Aaron Smith.

The foundation’s Corporate Volunteer Award will go to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (Washington, D.C.). The VA medical center played a major role in the development of VA’s innovative electronic system. A demonstration of this computerized system will be on display at the reception.

“We’re honored to recognize Representatives Filner, Miller, and Roe for their steadfast support of veteran’s rights and services,” said BAVF President John Fales. “These national leaders continually stand up for the millions of women and men who have served or are now serving our country, and for their families. The entire veteran’s community joins us in applauding these heroes for their friendship, trust, and constant devotion to veteran’s issues.”

This Annual Congressional Award for Meritorious Service is presented to senators and representatives who, in the opinion of the BAVF, have made significant contributions toward furthering the foundation’s efforts on behalf of sensory disabled American veterans.

It is named in “Buck‘s” honor, in recognition of the more than 40 years of tireless effort he devoted to the sensory disabled.

A pioneer in the field of blind rehabilitation, his accomplishments are too numerous to mention. One indication of the esteem in which he is held among blinded veterans is the bronze plaque at DVA’s Rehabilitation Center in West Haven, CT, where he once served as chief, officially renaming the center in his honor.

The George Alexander Volunteer Service Award was created in memorial of a friend of American veterans who was quite simply known as “Mr. Volunteer.”

Rarely in the limelight. Always there in the trenches. Never asking for credit, even when it was so truly warranted. Almost embarrassed when the richly deserved credit was given. No project was too small or forbidden to try and tackle. No task was too small or seemingly unimportant that he would not put forth his total commitment and boundless energy.

For George Alexander, the miles have been traveled, the promises kept. May he sleep well, knowing that others, in his name, will continue to strive to match his standards of caring and dedication.

The Carlton Sherwood Media Award annually recognizes both journalistic excellence and those members of the media who have shown special interest in — and dedication to — the needs and concerns of American veterans.

The award is named in honor of the highly decorated U.S. Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. Mr. Sherwood has achieved excellence in both the print and electronic media. His other reporting honors include awards from Sigma Delta Chi, the national journalistic society; the Peabody Award; the Robert F. Kennedy Prize from the Kennedy Foundation; and the Silver Gavel Award of the American Bar Association.

The Blinded American Veterans Foundation assists blinded and sensory-disabled veterans in attaining their full potential through research, rehabilitation and re-employment. It offers employment networking and rehabilitation and resource counseling, and provides funding for rehabilitation centers. Other programs include a speaker’s bureau, placement services and compilation of related statistics. It also conducts research, educational, and charitable programs. This valuable service is performed strictly with volunteers and without a paid staff.

• The Pentagon Federal Credit Union Foundation (PenFed Foundation), a nationally recognized nonprofit organization working to meet the unmet needs of military personnel and their families, announced today it raised more than $700,000, a record-breaking fundraising year, at its annual Night of Heroes Gala on Thursday, May 19, in Washington, D.C. The event recognized wounded military heroes and those of the medical community who provide the continuum of care from the battlefield to the home front.

“When the battle ends, the responsibility of the foundation and our donors begins. We are thrilled with the level of support we received this year,” said Christopher Flynn, president and chief executive officer for the PenFed Foundation. “Even in these tough economic times, our donors took that extra step to help make life better for veterans and active duty service members who have and continue to sacrifice so much for our country. That means a lot to us — and to the men and women we serve.”

The money raised will go toward supporting the foundation’s programs including helping wounded service members and providing financial management assistance to veterans and their families. This year, the funds raised will also be used to help build a new $12.5 million Defenders Lodge, a free hotel for veterans seeking medical treatment at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Palo Alto, Calif.

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 email sgtshaft@bavf.org.