- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

I am a veteran with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease). My award of VA compensation was done in a timely manner, but it did not include benefits for my wife. I have contacted the VA on numerous occasions but they are unable to correct this omission. I have provided a copy of my marriage certificate and the all of the information that was requested. Is there anything that you could to help? I don’t know what else to do.

R.C.
Via the Internet

Dear R.C.:

I contacted the powers that be at the Department of Veterans Affairs. I understand that you have been contacted concerning the positive action has been taken to add the additional benefits payable to you as a married veteran. Thanks for your service.

Shaft notes

• Kudos to U-Haul who plans to host two online contests geared to commemorate the celebration of our nation’s independence.

The U-Haul Military video contest will award a $500 U-Haul Gift Certificate to a current or previous member of our armed forces.

To win, all you need to do is create a short video telling them why you should be the military honoree.

Visit the video contest home page: www.facebook.com/UHaulCompany/app_120961358046379 for more details.

The video can be uploaded to the contest home page on the U-Haul Co. Facebook page, and you can share your video with friends and family. The video with the most votes on Aug. 6, 2012, at 11:59 p.m. EST will win a $500 U-Haul Gift Certificate that can be used toward any U-Haul product or service, including truck, trailer and U-Box rentals, moving supplies, moving help, hitches and storage.

The U-Haul SuperGraphics Coloring Contest is also recognizing all branches of the United States armed forces in this month’s coloring contest, which features a special commemorative coloring page dedicated to the military. The winning entry in each age group will receive a $50 Visa gift card and a chance to compete for the grand prize: their graphic on the side of a local U-Haul truck, and an unveiling party for their friends and family.

After World War II, there existed the widespread need for do-it-yourself moving equipment that would be available on a one-way, nationwide basis. U-Haul co-founders L.S. “Sam” Shoen, WWII Navy veteran, and his wife, Anna Mary Carty Shoen, recognized that need and acted upon it. The Shoens hired many returning GIs to work at U-Haul, and these veterans played an integral role in the company’s success.

Today, U-Haul continues its mission to support our active-duty military and veterans, and the company continues to actively hire veterans and provide them with priority in our hiring process.

• Officials of the Department of Veterans Affairs applauded a decision by the attorneys general of several states to give VA the rights to use the GIBill.Com website, after the website’s original owners QuinStreet Inc. agreed to give up the Internet site to settle a lawsuit by the states.

“This action is a victory for veterans and a victory for the GI Bill. Veterans and VA applaud the great work by the states’ attorneys general, along with Holly Petraeus and her team,” said W. Scott Gould, deputy secretary for Veterans Affairs. “We all want veterans to be informed consumers and for schools to meet their obligations in training this nation’s next ‘Greatest Generation.’ “

Holly Petraeus is assistant director for service member affairs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The attorneys general of several states had sued QuinStreet Inc., the owner of the GIBill.com domain, charging it with deceptive practices by directing veterans and service members on its website exclusively to for-profit schools that were clients of QuinStreet.

The announcement comes as VA is seeking legal authority to trademark the term GI Bill. An executive order by President Obama on April 26 directed VA and the Department of Defense to undertake a number of measures to “stop deceptive and misleading” promotional efforts that target the GI Bill educational benefits of service members, veterans, and eligible family members and survivors.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill, which was authorized by Congress in 2008, is the most extensive educational assistance program since the original GI Bill was signed into law in 1944. VA has issued nearly $20 billion in Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit payments to more than 759,000 people and their educational institutions.

All of VA’s education benefits are designed to be flexible and give veterans the power of choice by enabling them to pursue college degrees, technical certifications or vocational training according to their preferences and needs, at public, private nonprofit and private for-profit schools.

For-profit schools are held to the same approval standards as all other schools, and VA education programs at for-profit institutions are approved by the State Approving Agencies, which act independently on behalf of the federal government to ensure quality education and training is provided to veterans within each state.

Mr. Gould said veterans should not be recruited aggressively by institutions principally because of financial motives, and that VA’s and other federal and state agencies’ oversight activities provide strong monitoring. VA is engaging with other federal agencies to provide this oversight, including the departments of Defense, Education and Justice, as well as the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

“VA looks forward to helping veterans make informed decisions by accepting this gift of the GIBill.com domain. We will continue to support our veterans by helping them obtain the best education of their choosing — a right for which they have bravely served, and which they have rightly earned,” Mr. Gould said.

• The FRA Education Foundation proudly announces its scholarship recipients for 2012. Funded through private donations, corporate sponsorships, established trusts and the Fleet Reserve Association (FRA), the foundation’s parent organization, the foundation will award $128,000 in scholarships to 28 deserving students across the country who are pursuing their dreams of a college degree in the 2012-2013 academic year.

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.