SGT. SHAFT: Veteran with prostate cancer seeks help with VA claim

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Dear Sgt. Shaft:

Last year, I contacted you for assistance with my VA claim because in March 2011, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and on June 2, 2011, my prostate was removed. I submitted a VA claim in Virginia, which was lost.

I submitted another in California where I had to move to be near my son so he could assist me. After contacting you, I was contacted by California VA, and was scheduled for various medical examinations, which I immediately underwent. As of this date, my VA claim still has not been processed,

Thank you very much, and any assistance you can provide me will be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,
William T.
Via the Internet

Dear William:

I forwarded your inquire to the powers that be at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Hopefully, they will track your case to determine who dropped the ball.

Shaft notes

• The Sarge is looking forward to joining the Blinded American Veterans Foundation (BAVF) and other invited guests on June 13 at the organization’s 28th annual Congressional Awards reception commencing at 11:30 a.m. in Room 334 of the Cannon House Office Building.

Our nation’s colors will be presented by the Military District of Washington’s Joint Color Guard, and the very talented Marine Corps Brass Quintet will once again perform patriotic music.

Recipients of the BAVF’s “Buck” Gillispie Congressional Award are Rep. Martha Roby, Alabama, and Rep. Mike Michaud, Maine. The Carlton Sherwood Media Award will be present to George L. Skypeck, military historical artist and poet, and to John Harper, editor of Military.com.

The George Alexander Memorial Volunteer Award will be presented to: Christopher Holley, Veterans Benefits counselor, Department of Veterans Affairs; and to Jonathan Wilson, advocacy officer, Department of Veterans Affairs. The Corporate Volunteer Award will be presented to Randy Ortanez, president of PCTEST Engineering Laboratory Inc.

Bob Madigan, WTOP “Man About Town” will be the Master of Ceremony of the event.

The BAVF will host the annual Flag Week picnic on Saturday, June 15, in Silver Spring, honoring Fernando Rivera, VA VISN Director, (DelMarVa region) Medical Centers. Local, state and federal leaders will be also be present. Picnickers will be serenaded with live music, and as in past years, there will be plenty of refreshments and Lakis will provide his famous New York hot dogs, Washington-style.

• The Sarge encourages all members of Congress to join Rep. Gus M. Bilirakis, a Florida Republican and the  vice-chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, who has introduced H.R. 2063, which would authorize enrollment at Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities for all veterans who served during World War II.

“As a result of our World War II veterans’ dedication to our country and the ideals it stands for, generations of Americans have enjoyed the freedom and prosperity that make the United States the land of the free and the home of the brave. By providing the opportunity to enroll in the VA Health Care system, we are showing our thanks and gratitude for their sacrifices and honorable service. I am proud to introduce H.R. 2063 to help ensure these veterans receive access to the highest quality health care offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

Nearly a third of the living veterans from WWII are being served by VA health care, and many would prefer to enroll in the VA if provided the opportunity. This legislation will recognize and honor the “Greatest Generation” for their wartime military service by giving them the option of having their health care needs met by the VA in the remaining years of their life.

• The American Legion is praising Congress for passing the new Stolen Valor Act, which addresses areas that were previously ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

The new Stolen Valor Act would make it a crime to profit from lies about military awards and decorations, as opposed to the previous law that criminalized the wearing of unearned medals. If signed into law by President Obama as expected, this act will cover issues ranging from lying to receive veteran or health care benefits, to obtaining a government contract only eligible for a veteran- or service-disabled veteran-owned business, or getting a job reserved for a veteran.

“Last night, the United States Senate voted to pass the House version of the Stolen Valor Act by unanimous consent,” said James E. Koutz, national commander of the American Legion. “Within days, it will be the law of the land once again. The American Legion is proud to have aided in its passage and would like to especially thank Senators (Dean) Heller and (Jon) Tester for sponsoring and shepherding the bill through the Senate, and Representative (Joe) Heck for doing the same in the House.”

Noting that only three of the 535 Members of Congress voted in opposition, Mr. Koutz praised Congress for the overwhelming bipartisanship displayed.

“It is appropriate that Congress would work together to pass this important legislation as Americans prepare to celebrate their cherished fallen heroes on this Memorial Day. Both Majority Leader (Harry) Reid and Speaker (John) Boehner ensured that it received a quick vote, and for that we are very appreciative. We are confident that the concerns of the Supreme Court have been addressed and that this bill will pass constitutional muster.”

• The U.S. House of Representatives has unanimously passed Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s bipartisan “Helping Heroes Fly Act” (H.R. 1344), the first piece of legislation the Hawaii Democrat introduced in the House.

This measure will improve airport security screening for wounded and severely disabled service members and veterans by ensuring personal privacy and consistent application of efficient screening procedures.

Delegates to the American Legion’s National Convention last August unanimously passed Resolution No. 27, which called for passage of this legislation.

With a current membership of 2.4-million wartime veterans, the American Legion was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism and youth programs. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through more than 14,000 posts across the nation.

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.

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