- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 10, 2004

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

My great-grandfather David G. Noble died Dec. 18, 1871. He served as a private in Company H, 90th Regiment, Pennsylvania Infantry from November 1861 to his discharge Sept. 16, 1862, with a “Surg. Cert. of Disability.”

He is buried in an unmarked grave in Lawnview Cemetery in Rockledge, Pa.

Is he entitled to a U.S. headstone or grave marker? If so, how do we go about obtaining one?

Josephine T.

Ellicott City, Md.

Dear Josephine:

The VA Cemetery folks have advised me that your grandfather could be eligible for a headstone.

You would need to submit an application on Form 40-1330 (which can be printed off of VA’s Web site) and provide all available proof of eligibility. For service prior to World War I, this could include muster rolls, extracts from state files, pension or land warrants, etc. The VA would also need a statement from the cemetery that the grave is unmarked. Lawnview officials could follow the instructions on the form and mail it in as directed.

I hope this helps.

Shaft notes

The Sarge is looking forward to joining the VA Alumni Association at its fall luncheon Thursday. Featured speaker will be good friend Sandy Garfunkel, director of the DVA Medical Center in the District. The luncheon will be held at the Pier 7 Restaurant on Maine Avenue Waterfront starting at noon. For more information and reservations, call Leon Sanchez at 703/451-7529.

• A false rumor circulating on the Internet, in e-mails and among veterans service organizations is causing problems at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) where military records are stored.

The rumor that official military personnel files at the NPRC will be digitized and then destroyed is simply not true. Every minute taken to squelch a rumor is a minute taken away from the primary job.

Neither the Department of Defense nor the NPRC intend to destroy any official files stored at the center, according to officials of the National Archives and Records Administration, the agency under which NPRC falls. The purpose of any electronic scanning would be to help preserve the originals and increase efficiency in handling reference requests.

The National Archives and Records Administration preserves records that were transferred from the military service departments because they are permanently valuable records that document the essential evidence of military service for veterans. NPRC responds to about 4,000 requests pertaining to military records each day, totaling more than 1 million requests each year. Officials point out that requests resulting from this false rumor will have a negative effect on NPRC’s ability to respond to requests from veterans with real immediate needs, such as medical treatment or employment.

• The Sarge joins the VFW in condemning plans for a proposed memorial to be built in Canada to honor Vietnam draft-dodgers.

“We urge the president and Congress to do whatever is necessary to communicate to the Canadian government that this exercise of free expression is an absolute slap in the face to every man and woman who ever served in uniform … both in our military and theirs,” said John Furgess, the national commander of the largest organization of combat veterans in the United States.

“Everything America holds dear and every freedom we cherish today came from the blood, sweat and sacrifice of more than 42 million Americans who have answered the call to duty since the Revolutionary War.”

Shaft kudos

To the Department of the Navy for establishing a Disabled Veterans Assistance phone line to provide employment and referrals for our returning disabled service members, recently medically retired service members, and their spouses. Specifically, this phone line is to support our disabled veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and all disabled veterans of other conflicts, campaigns and wars.

The primary mission is to assist the target groups in their search for employment opportunities with the Department of the Navy, as well as with other federal and state agencies. The secondary mission is to provide resource and referral assistance. Referrals include, but are not limited to, the Veterans Administration, Department of Labor, and other Department of Defense agencies for the purpose of meeting and addressing needs that are outside of the normal scope.

The phone number is 800/378-4559 and will be staffed by a human resources specialist. Information will be posted on the Web site at www.donhr.navy.mil/.

For additional information regarding this initiative or to find out how you can support the Disabled Veterans Assistance Phone Line, call George Mendoza at 360/315-8124 or e-mail him at [email protected]

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, PO Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330; call 202/257-5446; or e-mail sgtshaft@bavf.org.

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