- The Washington Times - Monday, February 11, 2013

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

My father has applied for VA benefits and is currently waiting for a response. It’s been a few months now, and he’s starting to worry. If there’s any way you could check on the status of the application or find out if there’s a processing problem of any kind, we would both be most grateful.

He served in the U.S. Army from 1945 to 1970, exclusively in military music. He retired as a lieutenant colonel and the associate conductor of the United States Army Band in Washington, D.C. With the band, he co-founded the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets who play at the White House, and he started the military tattoo originally called “Prelude to Taps” but now called “Spirit of America.” His recording of bugle calls was used around the world at Army installations until fairly recently.

He will be 88 years old in April and currently lives in an assisted-living facility in Camp Hill, Pa. He is having to draw from his savings to cover his expenses after paying the monthly fee to the facility. VA benefits would ease his mind considerably, even if they were a small amount.

Please let me know if you need any other information to find out the status of his application. Any information is better than none.

Thank you so very much in advance for any assistance you can provide.

Lisa G.
Via the Internet

Dear Lisa:

I have referred your inquiry to the powers that be at the Department of Veterans Affairs and by now you should have received assistance from a local VA representative.

Shaft notes

• Congratulations to Reps. John Carter, Texas Republican, and C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Maryland Democrat, who will serve as co-chairs of the prestigious House Army Caucus for the 113th congressional session. The caucus includes more than 100 members from both parties and works to educate their fellow House members on Army needs and advocate for those needs in the legislative process.

Mr. Carter — whose district includes the Army’s largest base, Fort Hood — has served as co-chair of the caucus since 2009. He is chairman of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee and also sits on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.

“At this especially stressful time for the Army due to sequestration, we must have a strong bipartisan voice to support the needs of our soldiers and their families,” Mr. Carter said. “This caucus can and should continue to provide that support, and I am honored to serve as co-chair for the 113th Congress.”

Mr. Ruppersberger, who has served on the caucus since 2007, will replace outgoing Rep. Silvestre Reyes as the Democratic co-chair. Mr. Ruppersberger’s district is home to two Army bases: Fort Meade and Aberdeen Proving Ground. He is the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee and is a former member of the House Armed Services Committee.

“Knowledge is power,” Mr. Ruppersberger said. “It’s imperative that all members of Congress understand and appreciate the work that the Army does for our country so that we can ensure the men and women in uniform have the resources they need to keep us safe. This is an honor and responsibility I will take seriously.”

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