- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

Thank you for your inquiry on behalf of Mr. Ben B. regarding the health care services available to him at the Kansas City VA Medical Center (KCVAMC) and his family’s need to purchase a wheelchair accessible vehicle.

KCVAMC leadership completed a clinical and an administrative review of his health care and the support services currently being offered to him and his family. KCVAMC staff contacted the family on June 14, 2013, to follow up on any outstanding concerns and will continue to work with the family throughout this process.

Thank you for the opportunity to address these concerns.

Dr. Robert A. Petzel
Under Secretary of Health
Department of Veterans Affairs

Dear Dr. Petzel:

Thanks for making this disabled vets life a little brighter.

Shaft notes

• Kudos to the House of Representatives for the passage of legislation on human rights issues in Vietnam. Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican and a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was the author of the legislation, the Vietnam Human Rights Act of 2013. The bill was approved in a unanimous voice vote of the full Committee.

Mr. Smith’s Vietnam bill, H.R. 1897, would institute measures to improve human rights in Vietnam by prohibiting any increase in non-humanitarian assistance to the government of Vietnam above Fiscal Year 2012 levels unless the government makes substantial progress in establishing a democracy and promoting human rights.

The bill aims for improvement in freedom of religion (and releasing all religious prisoners), rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association, the release of all political prisoners, independent journalists, and labor activists, and to an end any government complicity in human trafficking.

“Brazen human rights violations by the hands of the Vietnamese government continue against its own people,” Mr. Smith said, noting an April 11 congressional hearing that detailed widespread abuses, as well as government officials’ involvement in trafficking Vietnamese women to Russia, Jordan and other locations.

“The powerful testimony before Congress showed widespread religious, political and ethnic human rights abuse, and that Vietnamese government officials are complicit in human trafficking. Vietnam, in fact, continues to be among the worst violators of religious freedom in the world,” Mr. Smith said, noting the rights and freedoms of Buddhists, Catholics, Protestants and other faiths are routinely trampled upon by the government.

• The Sarge joins the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW in urging intervention in the ongoing class-action lawsuits against Prudential Insurance Co. of America concerning its handling of the life insurance benefits for service members and veterans.

Prudential administers the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program for the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the 2010 suit alleges that Prudential failed to pay death benefits in a manner required by federal law, and instead profited from money belonging to the families of deceased service members and veterans.

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