- The Washington Times - Monday, September 13, 2004

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

Several months ago, I wrote to you about my situation and asked for your help. I am writing to thank you for turning my life and the lives of my daughters around. With your help, I was able to have my DIC claim resolved before Veterans Affairs. We are now looking at a brighter future.

My story is quite simple. Upon the untimely death of my husband, Michael Small, I filed a DIC claim. Michael died of multiple myeloma that at the time of his death was not on the Agent Orange presumptive list. This claim was denied on the basis that Michael died from one of the diseases not listed.

Michael had served his country as a Navy corpsman and was assigned to the 1st Marine Division in Vietnam. When multiple myeloma was added to the Agent Orange presumptive list, I filed to reopen my claim. However, this time, the VA told me I had to prove that Michael was in Vietnam when his military records clearly showed “RVN” (Republic of Vietnam).

Due to your intervention, the VA located the military records that confirmed Michael was stationed in Vietnam. I know that without your help the resolution of this claim would not have been done so quickly and with the favorable result.

My daughters and I want to thank you for all your personal efforts. This help will never be forgotten.

Rita S.

Upper Darby, Pa.

Dear Rita:

Thank you for your kind words. Kudos also should go to those dedicated employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs who made sure that you and your family now receive your much-deserved benefits. Veterans and their families deserve no less.

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

I am still waiting for a reply to the following letter that I sent Jim Lehrer.

“I watch your program nightly. It has been my favorite for years. However, during the last year it has disturbed me when you close the program with a ‘silent listing’ of those killed in action. I am a blinded veteran. I have the same interest as the sighted and knowing who has sacrificed their lives for this country is of equal importance to me.

Please consider reading out loud the names, ranks, hometown, etc., so that those of us who sacrificed our eyesight for this country can have equal benefit as your sighted viewers.”

Dennis Wyant


Blinded American Veterans Foundation

Dear Dennis:

A Shaft Shot to newscaster Jim Lehrer and the Public Broadcasting System for not only their non-response to your letter, but especially their non-adherence to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It’s ironic that the Public Broadcasting System, which derives much of its funding from the taxpayer, would ignore the rights of visually handicapped persons to fully participate in their programs.

Shaft notes

The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) recently updated the Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) information posted on its Web site.

It’s at www.dfas.mil as part of Combat Related Special Compensation under the Retiree and Annuitant Pay heading. Information concerning the entire CRSC Program is included in Frequently Asked Questions.

Public Law 108-136, the National Defense Authorization Act which went into effect Jan. 1, extended CRSC eligibility to retired members who have a combat-related disability rating between 10 percent and 50 percent by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Previously, a 60 percent or higher rating or a disability associated with a Purple Heart was required in order to be eligible for CRSC payments. Members retired because of a disability with less than 20 years of service are not eligible.

Retirees who have applied to their branch of service and whose applications have been approved and forwarded to DFAS will be processed in the order in which they are received.

DFAS reports that retirees receiving CRSC have been paid using the VA’s veteran-only rates. CRSC legislation included provisions to increase CRSC amounts because of dependency status and/or receipt of Individual Unemployability (IU) or Special Monthly Compensation (SMC). A recently finalized data-sharing agreement among DFAS, the Military Services and the VA now will allow payment of these increased CRSC amounts to eligible retirees as follows:

In addition to the DFAS Web site, the updated information will be incorporated in the Web site maintained by the Air Force Personnel Center’s Disability Division. That division’s CRSC officials noted that they have provided all names of those eligible for Special Monthly Compensation and Individual Unemployability to DFAS. persons requiring more information about CRSC should call 210/565-1600 or the AFPC Contact Center at 800/616-3775.

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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