- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 17, 2006

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

According to a column by editorial writer Brendan Conway in The Washington Times of Nov. 2, titled “Reverse Swiftboating,” “The U.S. Code defines a veteran of a given conflict as ‘any veteran who served in the active military, naval, or air service during a period of war.’ If you served, you helped the war effort and, according to 38 USC 101(12), you can call yourself a veteran of that conflict.”

For the 50-plus years since my discharge from active duty with the Army, I have said when asked that I served during the Korean War but I was not in Korea, as was my brother who was a Marine infantry officer in Korea. He was a real Korean War veteran and I was something else.

Now, many years later, I find that I am indeed “a veteran of the Korean War,” as per the above. In recounting this turn of events to a friend who is a legitimate veteran of Army service in Vietnam, he asked if I have a service ribbon for the Korean War, which I do not have and never did have. Should I?

Brad J.

Culpeper, Va.

Dear Brad:

You are a veteran of the Korean era and as such are authorized the National Defense Service Medal for your service. The National Defense Service Medal is detailed at https://www.globemaster.de/faq/locator.html# armyloc

You are not entitled to the Korean Service Medal, which requires military service in Korea during the Korean War as noted below. It is described at https://www.afpc.randolph.af.mil/AwardsNet/Decoration.aspx?Mode=Graphics&Decoration; =KSM

“This KSM is awarded for participating in any engagement against the enemy in the territory, waters, or air in North or South Korea. Personnel also are considered as having participated in an engagement if they were members of: 1) A designated combat or service unit in the Korean Theater; 2) A combat or service unit, other than one within the Korean Theater, which was designated by the Commander, Far East Air Force, as having directly supported military operations in the Korean Theater; or 3) A designated headquarters of the Far East Air Forces that exerted a distinct and contributory effort to the military operations in the Korean Theater.

“Bronze Service Stars (BSS) are awarded to members of designated combat units, or designated service units in combat, units assigned to the Far East Air Forces command or on TDY with Army Ground Forces if a member participates in one of the 10 recognized campaigns of the Korean War.”

I would also suggest that you go to https://www.archives.gov/ veterans/evetrecs/ where you can request information about your own military record. Specifically, I would encourage you to request information pertaining to all awards, decorations, and service ribbons you are entitled to based on your military service. These requests are usually fulfilled in four to six weeks.

Shaft notes

The Sarge joins House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Steve Buyer, Indiana Republican, in congratulating Rep. Bob Filner, California Democrat, on his selection as chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs for the 110th Congress.

Mr. Buyer in his statement noted: “Those of us on the committee who have worked with Bob Filner know how deeply he cares for America’s veterans. I look forward to continuing our bipartisanship as we honor our commitment to America’s veterans and their families.”

Kudos to Congress for finally passing vital veterans legislation. A comprehensive bill that will benefit millions of veterans was passed by the U.S. Senate on the last day of the 109th Congress. It now goes to President Bush to be signed into law. The legislation (S. 3421) was sponsored by Sen. Larry E. Craig, Idaho Republican and outgoing chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

Among its many provisions, the bill adds $65 million to increase the number of clinicians treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and $2 million for additional blind-rehabilitation specialists and increases the number of facilities where the specialists will be located.

The new law will also enable the spouse or child of a service member who is hospitalized or receiving outpatient medical care to begin receiving financial help through VA for their education. Mr. Craig crafted that portion of the legislation earlier this year after meeting with Army Sgt. Jeff Mittman, who was blinded during an attack in Iraq.

“Our change will allow him to get the treatment he needs while his wife gets the education their family will need. This change will be a win-win for all. It’s simply the right thing to do,” Mr. Craig said.

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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