- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

I have a veteran that has severe hearing loss that made two tours on the flight deck of the USS Bennington in the early 1960s. The VA says he has hearing loss but has no proven nexus to his military service. Are these guys nuts? He was exposed to up to 150 decibels constantly with no hearing protection back then. Isn’t that a presumptive slam dunk for compensation?

Mike Day
Service Officer
Disabled American Veterans Chapter 2
Lafayette, LA

Dear Mike:

The New Orleans Regional Office reports that this veteran’s notice of disagreement was received on April 10, 2013, for the issues of service connection for bilateral hearing loss and intraocular foreign body with cataract of the left eye. The De Novo letter, or letter of disagreement, was sent to him on April 15, 2013. They contacted him on May 2, 2013, and advised him that his NOD (Notice of Disagreement) was received and verified the issues he was appealing.

They also advised him that appeals are worked in date of receipt order, and that there is a substantial backlog. They said they will make a decision as soon as possible based on the date of receipt of the appeal. He appeared to accept our explanation and said he would wait to hear from us.

Shaft notes

• A Hawaii television station, America’s newspaper and a war correspondent’s video on the website of the nation’s “newspaper of record,” will receive The American Legion’s Fourth Estate Award during the organization’s 95th National Convention in Houston, Texas, on Aug. 29.

The Fourth Estate Award has been presented annually by the American Legion since 1958 for outstanding achievement in the field of journalism. Nominations were considered in three categories: print, broadcast and new media (Internet).

Taking top honor in the print category for a second time was USA Today. A 14-month investigation of more than 460 forgotten lead factory sites, including tests of more than 1,000 samples of soil in 21 neighborhoods by reporters Alison Young and Peter Eisler, found significant lead poisoning risks.

Failures by the EPA and state regulators had left thousands of families across the country in harm’s way for more than a decade.

The series, “Ghost Factories,” drew calls for action from seven U.S. senators and has led the EPA to re-examine health risks at all 464 sites nationwide. More than a dozen states have launched their own investigations and several sites have already been targeted for cleanup.

Hawaii’s KITV-TV brought closure to a long and dark phase of history with the production of a one-hour documentary on the life of Marianne Cope, just canonized by the Vatican for her work on the Kalaupapa peninsula in the mid-1800s. Of the more than 8,000 people torn from families and left to die in the leprosy settlement of Kalawao and Kalaupapa, only 18 remain today.

With the disease no longer a threat, these elderly and frail patients traveled to Rome for the canonization. For them, her sainthood validated that their suffering and sacrifice have not been in vain. KITV’s Pamela Young, Rex Von Arnswaldt and Gary Sprinkle poignantly closed out a dark phase of history with a story of hope, faith and courage.

In the Internet (new media) category, freelance war correspondent Alex Quade won her second consecutive Fourth Estate Award for her video report, “Chinook Down,” for The New York Times website.

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