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SGT. SHAFT: Veteran’s spouse seeks help regarding husband’s injuries

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

My husband was in a car wreck approximately two weeks before he was scheduled to retire from the Navy in 1982 (?). In this accident, he crushed both ankles and smashed his head, receiving frontal lobe damage.

The docs "killed" his leg, leaving him with Avascular Necrosis, and NEVER examined his head other than to provide a few stitches over his eye and wipe off the blood draining from his ears. I tell you all this to say that the VA has denied his head injury in his disability rating claiming that the injury did not occur in the same accident.

Every time we request medical and military records from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), we get a different set of information. Not to mention, the medical records from Scott AFB from the day of entry into the ER to sometime afterward are "missing" and no one can find them.

My husband was in the Navy from 1978 to 1984, and the VA will only send us records dating back to 1994. Here it is, 30 years later, and we are still trying to build a claim with documentation of the injury.

Try to figure this one out ...

Thanks!
Dawn O.
Via the Internet

Dear Dawn:

You seem to have done everything I would have suggested. If he was in a serious car wreck two weeks before retirement, he should have been held on alternative duty to heal, and a Physical Disability Board convened for him. There should be records for this somewhere. You might try the Navy Personnel Command at Millington, Tenn., at the Customer Service number.

Contact the Retired Activities staff through the NPC Customer Service Center at: 1-866-U-ASK-NPC; or 1-866-827-5672; or via email at: MILL_RetiredActivities@navy.mil.

In addition, I have contacted those in the know at the Department of Veterans Affairs to ask them to assist you.

Shaft notes

• The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. announced that its partly owned veterans jobs board has secured an exclusive employment initiative with Alberta, Canada, that could see thousands of U.S. veterans heading north to work on their oil pipeline.

"This is a great opportunity for veterans, transitioning military, National Guard and reservists, and their family members," said Ted Daywalt, founder and CEO of VetJobs (www.vetjobs.com), a recognized industry leader in helping veterans find work.

"Though America's Keystone Pipeline is delayed, the Canadians are moving forward on their side of the border and have an immediate need for tens of thousands of workers," said Mr. Daywalt, whose website averages more than 55,000 daily job postings by employers strictly interested in hiring veterans. He said the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation anticipates a shortage of 114,000 workers in the Alberta area, and they want to hire American veterans to fill that shortage.

According to the development corporation, the positions being offered are long term, with many paying as much as 30 percent more than similar industry positions in the United States. Some positions will require a move to Canada, but many others will allow veterans to commute — working several weeks in Canada, then one week back home.

The skilled positions they are currently hiring for include journeymen pressure pipe welders, heavy equipment technicians, steamfitter-pipefitters, structural ironworkers, millwright and carpenter/scaffolders. Professional staff vacancies include construction quality auditors, quality examiners/inspectors, cost estimators, high voltage construction managers, refinery shift supervisors, planners/schedulers, power engineers (operators), project control leads, project managers/coordinators, and health, safety and environment professionals.

"This is a fantastic opportunity and I'm proud of our affiliation with VetJobs," said VFW National Commander Richard L. DeNoyer, of Middleton, Mass. "Helping thousands of veterans to get well-paying jobs in an important industry just further proves that no one does more for veterans than the VFW."

To apply for the new positions, go to www.vetjobs.com, click on Search Jobs, then type "opportunity awaits" into the company search field. Additional job postings will be added in the coming months as the Canadian pipeline project progresses.

• The Sarge urges the administration to stop kowtowing to the pseudo environmentalists and immediately approve the pipeline on our side of the border. A job is a terrible thing to waste, especially when our heroes are returning, not to jobs, bur to long unemployment lines.

• The Sarge joins the Military Order of the Purple Heart in their criticism of the 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn the Stolen Valor Act by upholding the decision of the 9th Circuit Court, in the case of the United States vs. Alvarez.

Originally tried in a California court, Xavier Alvarez was convicted for claiming to be a retired Marine with 25 years of military service and a recipient of both the Medal of Honor and the Purple Heart Medal. Mr. Alvarez, who never actually served in the military, later appealed the decision and won in the 9th Circuit Court on the basis that the 2005 Stolen Valor Act infringes upon speech protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

In defending the law, the Obama administration had argued that "military awards serve as public symbols of honor and prestige, conveying the nation's gratitude for acts of valor and sacrifice; and they foster morale ... and esprit de corps within the military. False claims to have received military awards undermine the system's ability to fulfill these purposes," and "make the public skeptical of all claims to have received awards. ..." By its decision, the Supreme Court has made clear that, while "contemptible" and worthy of outrage and ridicule, the right to lie about valor, heroism and the receipt of military decorations is protected by the 1st Amendment.

Reacting to the news, MOPH National Commander Bill Hutton said, "While disappointed in this decision, The Military Order of the Purple Heart has always been and remains a staunch supporter of the U.S. Constitution and the individual citizen's right to freedom of speech."

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.

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