- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 29, 2006

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

The Reserve Officers Association received a letter similar to the one that you published Dec. 5 from Linda M. Springer, the director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

The differences seem to be one of semantics. Currently, U.S. Code Title 5 Section 2108(1) defines preference eligibility to those who “served … during a war, in a campaign or expedition” and “who have been separated from the armed forces under honorable conditions.” The term “separated” is not defined. The OPM veterans guide states: “To receive preference, a veteran must have been separated from active duty in the Armed Forces with an honorable or general discharge.” This created a problem.

The dilemma faced by Guard and reserve members is they aren’t discharged, but are released from active duty. Indications are that some federal agencies have not allowed veteran preference to Guard and reserve members because they continue their reserve affiliation.

The Reserve Officers Association applauds the director’s statement of support that reservists qualify if “separated or discharged.”

Lt. Gen. Dennis M. McCarthy, retired

U.S. Marine Corps

Executive director, Reserve Officers Association

Dear General:

Thanks for your missive adding some clarification to the veterans preference issue. Unfortunately, there are some federal apparatchiks with hiring authority who will use any excuse to bypass a vet.

Shaft notes

• A hearty welcome to Kevin B. Secor of Woodbridge, Va., who was appointed by Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson as his senior adviser on issues relating to major veterans groups.

In his new role, Mr. Secor will serve as the primary liaison between the department and veterans organizations, informing veterans groups about VA’s efforts on their behalf while communicating the concerns of the veterans groups to Mr. Nicholson.

Mr. Secor, a native of Schodack, N.Y., retired from the Marine Corps as a master gunnery sergeant, having served 29 years. His last active-duty post was as a military assistant and senior enlisted Marine with the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon.

His assignments included tours as a Marine security guard in Nigeria and Germany, as a recruiter in New Hampshire and as a member of the inspector general’s staff in Syracuse, N.Y.

• The Sarge urges the Senate to join the House in passage of H.R. 323: To redesignate the Ellis Island Library on the third floor of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, in New York Harbor, as the “Bob Hope Memorial Library.”

This special posthumous tribute is an appropriate way to say, “Thanks, Bob, for the memories.”

• Congratulations to the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. for their passage of a national resolution to support the president and the war in Iraq as part of the larger global war on terrorism. VFW Resolution 440 also stipulates that American forces should remain in Iraq in sufficient numbers until Iraqi forces can provide security for their own nation.

The out-of-session move by America’s largest organization of combat veterans to support the war is meant to get the nation refocused on supporting the troops instead of armchair quarterbacking the how and why the war in Iraq began.

• Congratulations to good friend Gordon England on his recess appointment to deputy defense secretary. He recently relinquished his post as secretary of the Navy.

As acting deputy defense secretary, Mr. England has served as Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld’s deputy since May, when Paul Wolfowitz left the Pentagon to head up the World Bank.

During two terms as Navy secretary, Mr. England served a total of 48 months. His terms were separated by his service as the first deputy secretary of the Homeland Security Department. For the past eight months, he has served in both the Navy post and as acting deputy secretary of defense.

“It has been a profound honor to serve with the magnificent men and women of the United States Navy and Marine Corps,” Mr. England said in a statement issued by the Pentagon. “I am most privileged to be able to continue serving our armed forces as the deputy to Secretary Rumsfeld.”

• 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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