- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 18, 2005

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

In your article on burial eligibility, you state, “All honorably discharged veterans became eligible for burial in 1873.”

Are military retirees not eligible for burial in national cemeteries? I am retired with 28 years in the U.S. Army, and have never been discharged. I believe that my retirement pay is a retainer, and I can be recalled to active duty at any time.

Lt. Col. James H. (ret.)

via Internet

Dear James:

Burial in a national cemetery is open to all members of the armed forces and veterans who have met minimum active-duty requirements and have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.

While the eligibility requirements do not specifically refer to military retirees, it is implied that military retirees who are in receipt of military retirement pay have met the minimum active-duty and discharge-eligibility requirements for burial in a national cemetery.

Additional information on national cemeteries can be found on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Web site at www.va.gov.

Shaft notes

In the past few weeks, organizations have been striking out at the left-wing media’s anti-war poster mom, Cindy Sheehan, and her moveon.org manipulators.

Four national military family organizations are calling for an end to the misuse of one of the nation’s most sacred symbols — the Gold Star — to politicize efforts for ending the war in Iraq.

The American Gold Star Mothers Inc., Gold Star Wives of America Inc., Sons and Daughters In Touch and American WWII Orphans Network oppose the use of and reference to the Gold Star in the political demonstrations carried out in Texas and other parts of the United States.

The Department of Defense awards Gold Star pins to family members who have lost a loved one in military service to their country.

• Delegates to the American Legion 2005 national convention vowed to use whatever means necessary to ensure the united support of the American people to support our troops and the global war on terrorism.

“The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war,” said Thomas P. Cadmus, outgoing national commander, quoting Gen. Douglas MacArthur. “We had hoped that the lessons learned from the Vietnam War would be clear to our fellow citizens: Public protests against the war here at home while our young men and women are in harm’s way on the other side of the globe only provide aid and comfort to our enemies.”

Resolution 3, passed unanimously by 4,000 delegates to the annual event, states: “The American Legion fully supports the President of the United States, the United States Congress and the men, women, and leadership of our armed forces as they are engaged in the global war on terrorism, and the troops who are engaged in protecting our values and way of life.

“For many of us, the visions of Jane Fonda glibly spouting anti-American messages with the North Vietnamese and protesters denouncing our own forces four decades ago is forever etched in our memories,” Mr. Cadmus said. “We must never let that happen again. I assure you, the American Legion will stand against anyone and any group that would demoralize our troops or, worse, endanger their lives by encouraging terrorists to continue their cowardly attacks against freedom-loving peoples.”

The measure recognizes that the global war on terrorism is as deadly as any war in which the Untied States has been previously engaged and that the president and Congress did authorize military actions in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

“No one respects the right to protest more than one who has fought for it, but we hope that Americans will present their views in correspondence to their elected officials rather than by public media events guaranteed to be picked up and used as tools of encouragement by our enemies,” Mr. Cadmus said. “It would be tragic if the freedoms our veterans fought so valiantly to protect would be used against their successors today as they battle terrorists bent on our destruction.”

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 e-mail [email protected]

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