Dear Sgt. Shaft:
My husband is buried at the RIverside National Cemetery. He died on April 25, 1987, and was interred May 12, 1987. What are the requirements for spouse burial? Due to his alcoholism and abuse, we were separated at the time of his death but not divorced. Thanks to his lack of financial support for his family and his alcoholic expenditures, retirement savings were impossible. I live on my Social Security and am concerned about final expenses.
Via the Internet
Surviving spouses are eligible for burial with their veteran husband or wife. Divorced spouses or spouses who had their marriage annulled are ineligible. The rules do not address separation, so since you were legally married to the veteran at the time of his death, you are indeed eligible for burial at a national cemetery.
• The Sarge is looking forward to attending the 2012 Warrior-Family Symposium (WFS) where Rep. Jeff Miller, Florida Republican, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, will join Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki as distinguished speakers on Thursday.
This event, hosted by the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) and the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) to honor wounded heroes and their families, will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.
"I am honored to be a part of this year's Warrior-Family Symposium," Mr. Miller stated. "These men and women deserve our very best, as do their families, who are integral to the healing process of their loved ones. Each continues to sacrifice for our nation, and this annual symposium, led by MOAA, will highlight what we need to do to help them achieve the highest quality of life possible."
Event registration is free to all active duty/reserve component service members and their spouses. This year's WFS event will focus on the theme "Saluting Their Sacrifice: A Decade of Challenges and Triumphs for Our Wounded Heroes and Their Families."
Event co-presenters MOAA and NDIA plan to provide a forum for expanding on the collective efforts of government and non-government organizations to improve the physical, psychological and overall well-being of wounded warriors and their families.
Two discussion panels will focus on issues of readjustment in the home, in the community, and in the workplace. Panels are
* "The Early Years — How Wounded Warrior-Families Are Doing Today": Wounded heroes and their families and caregivers recount their diverse experiences, challenges and triumphs during their road from injury to recovery to transition and share their insights and a glimpse at how they are doing today. Moderated by Alex Quade, award-winning freelance war reporter.
* Fireside Chat: "Transitions & New Beginnings — Linking Alliances To Evolving Needs"; Active duty, separated and medically retired active duty service members and veterans and their families talk about their transition experiences in recent years, their expectations, and how they survived/thrived during the process.
Public-private organizations will join the discussions, exploring opportunities and collaborative ways to enhance and refine programs and services to meet a lifetime of changing needs. Co-Moderators are Derek Donovan, vice president, Fisher House Foundation, and retired Marine Corps Master Sgt. William "Spanky" Gibson.
With the focus on such topics, the WFS will offer all who attend an overall awareness of the wounded warriors' needs and, subsequently, lead to the further enhancement and refinement of programs and services that will benefit them and their families.
In the afternoon portion of the program, three wounded heroes will be recognized for their courage and accomplishments. They are:
* Staff Sgt. Dale Beatty, ARNG (retired), co-founder, Purple Heart Homes (sponsored by Fisher House Foundation);
* Master Sgt. Juanita Milligan, USA (retired) (sponsored by Business and Professional Women (BPW) Foundation, ICF International);
* Lt. Brian Naughton, USCG, Maritime Security Response Team (sponsored by U.S. Coast Guard).
For more information and to register, visit http://www.moaa.org/wfs/. Onsite registration will be available.
• The Sarge offers kudos to two students who were recently honored by the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Research and Development (ORD) for their efforts to raise awareness about veterans and VA research. At an afternoon ceremony held this summer at VA's central office, Francesca Cetta and Claire Quigley were recognized by Dr. Madhulika Agarwal, VHA Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Policy and Services, for their "outstanding efforts on behalf of VA research and its mission to improve the lives of veterans."
Inspired by a demonstration of VA's research efforts and the DEKA arm prosthetic at the April 27 VA Research Week Central Forum — which coincided this year with VA's "Take your Child to Work Day" — Ms. Cetta enlisted the help of Ms. Quigley to hold a bake sale. Both are fifth-grade students who reside in Potomac, Md.
"VA research works each day to develop and conduct research on numerous advances like the DEKA arm that improve the lives of veterans," said VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. "I thank Ms. Cetta and Ms. Quigley for their initiative and creativity in supporting our veterans and VA research."
The arm, which was operated by veterans Arthur McAuley and Frederick Downs Jr., retired VA director of Prosthetic and Sensory Aids Service, was jointly developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, DEKA Research and Development and the VA. The arm is a highly functional prosthetic limb with a fully functional hand, which allows mobility for individuals with upper arm amputations.
"It is gratifying to meet students who appreciate our veterans and are inspired by the science we're using to improve their health," said VA Chief Research and Development Officer, Dr. Joel Kupersmith, who presided at the recognition ceremony.
VA, which runs the largest integrated health care system in the country, also has one of the largest medical research programs. This year, approximately 3,400 researchers will work on more than 2,300 projects with nearly $1.9 billion in funding.
• 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 email@example.com.
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