- The Washington Times - Monday, March 28, 2005

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

I read with interest your recent article about Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), which permits those spouses who remarry at age 57 or older to retain DIC. I’d like to share with you an interesting letter that I received in early January about this issue. It’s from Eleanor D. Jared Finley.

Mrs. Finley wrote:

“I am a war widow from WWII. My husband was Maj. Garth B. Jared, squadron commander of a fighter group in Northern Italy. On his last sortie before he was coming home, he radioed the bomber that he was escorting that his plane had been hit by flak and he had to bail out. He then disappeared in a cloud and was reported missing in action. That was April 18, 1944. We had a baby son, Stephen, a year old. Three months later, I learned my husband’s remains had been found.

“Years later, on Dec. 27, 1987, I married Bill Finley, a Navy veteran. We are still married. I’m 87 years old now and am reliving all the pain with grieving widows of the war with Iraq.

“Last summer, I suffered a right-brain stroke, followed by a second one. My entire left side is numb from scalp to toes. I had a lengthy hospital stay, followed by weeks of rehabilitation. During this period, ,all I could handle was urgent current mail, so all secondhand mail simply accumulated until I could get to it. This of course included the Gold Star Wives Newsletters. Two days ago, I was able to gather them up and read. That’s when I saw the article that makes me believe I am eligible for some additional financial support — but also stressed me that because of my strokes, I had missed the deadline to apply.

“Yes, I’m old, and I’m on the skids, but even just a little additional income now such as someone who could cook once in a while, or drive me somewhere, or help with the most tiring housework, would be an unimaginable blessing.

“So I’m asking, if under these particular circumstances of being too ill to read the GSW Newsletter when it was most important, a rule could be bent and I could still apply? Like all war widows in all wars, we’ve earned it. Please help me if you can, and thank you from my heart. It wouldn’t cost the government anything for very long.”

So Sgt. Shaft, I thought you’d find this letter very interesting. It’s a pity that Mrs. Finley was unaware of the deadline date to apply for reinstatement of DIC because she was so ill and suffered two strokes during the one-year period that was open to apply for reinstatement of DIC.

I salute you for urging the law be changed to extend the one-year period to apply for reinstatement of DIC for those who remarried at age 57 or older before the law passed in December 2003. One year to apply was much too short a period for Mrs. Finley. She deserves better.

Sincerely,

Rose Lee

Legislative Committee chairman

Gold Star Wives of America

Dear Rose:

The president and Congress should immediately extend the date for Mrs. Finley and other survivors to apply for their much deserved benefits.

Shaft notes

The Sarge salutes Sen. Larry Craig, Idaho Republican, ranking member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, and the other distinguished members of the committee.

I have been impressed with the professional and collegial participation of the committee members as they placed veterans’ care above party politics during recent hearings.

I urge this important committee to hold prompt hearings to confirm Dr. Jonathan Perlin as undersecretary for health in the Department of Veterans Affairs. As the acting chief executive officer of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), Dr. Perlin has been leading the nation’s largest integrated health system.

VHA provides health care to more than 5.1 million veterans (and 7.6 million enrollees) throughout the United States. VHA directly employs more than 196,500 health care professionals at 171 medical centers, more than 850 community and facility-based clinics, 135 nursing homes, 43 domiciliaries, 207 readjustment-counseling centers and various other facilities.

Dr. Perlin was VHA’s chief quality and performance officer, 1999-2002. In that role, he was responsible for supporting quality improvement and performance management. VA is one of two federal agencies recognized twice by Congress for “managing for results.” VHA’s Quality and Performance program has also been specifically recognized by the Innovations in American Government and the RIT-USA Today Quality Cup programs.

Dr. Perlin’s background includes health care quality management, health information technologies, medical education and health services research. Prior to joining VHA, Dr. Perlin served as medical director of quality improvement at the Medical College of Virginia Hospitals, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Health System.

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 [email protected]

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