- The Washington Times - Monday, March 13, 2006

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

My daughter is married to an active-duty serviceman with over 15 years of service. They have four minor children and were stationed overseas. My daughter is considering a divorce because of her husband’s abuse to her and the children.

She has many questions. She is greatly concerned about hospitalization for herself. She believes the children will be covered, but she thinks her coverage would end with a divorce. I felt it would end if she remarried.

Could you provide her with an answer and perhaps a contact where she may go to get her questions answered and find out what rights she has as a wife and/or ex-wife of a military officer?

Thank you for the great service you provide to our military personnel. Your assistance will be greatly appreciated.

Bob G.

Via the Internet

Dear Bob:

There are provisions in place to protect spouses or children who are subject to abuse. These are contained in law under 10 U.S.C. 1408(h) for a former spouse in receipt of an annuity as a result of a member being separated from the service owing to misconduct involving dependent abuse. Note that it is not sufficient that there may have been abuse; the service member must be separated from the service because of misconduct to establish eligibility for a former spouse.

As long as the couple stays married, the spouse has coverage. In case of divorce, she could retain coverage depending on how the disciplinary case is handled. If she enrolls in other health insurance under an employer-sponsored health plan, she will lose eligibility for military medical care. If she remarries, she will lose military medical coverage.

I also suggest that your daughter contact the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) at 703/549-2311 for assistance.

Shaft Notes

The Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region and the Military District of Washington (MDW) have provided services to nearly 10,000 injured service members upon their arrival at Andrews Air Force Base.

Four soldiers, with periodic assistance from other military service members in the area, help and track functions for active National Guard and Reserve personnel. They are in support of Air Force medical personnel, ensuring the means are there to transport patients to the hospital where treatment will continue.

The task — Medical Evacuation to CONUS (Continental United States) Hospitals — came to MDW from the National Guard Bureau. Col. Barry Searle, head of the operation, transitioned with the mission.

The mission provides continuous visibility of individual soldier transition from theater to designated medical facility — important to Army senior leadership, the service member’s unit, his or her home state, and, of course, the family.

The team continues to be there each and every time a plane with injured troops arrives. It is a labor of great significance to those who have the honor of fulfilling it.

“It’s like family helping family,” said Sgt. 1st Class Matt-Calvin Phair, a member of the team, as quoted by the American Forces Press Service.

To learn more about the mission and the Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region, visit www.mdw.army.mil/jfhqncr/.

• Employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) were recently recognized for their efforts in the wake of destruction by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita with the presentation of the Public Spirit Award from the American Legion Auxiliary.

The annual award was accepted on behalf of the department by the honorable Jim Nicholson, secretary of veterans affairs, who also lauded VA employees for their heroic sacrifice during Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast six months ago.

The Public Spirit Award traditionally is given to individuals, but American Legion Auxiliary National President Carol Van Kirk nominated the entire department for being what she called “an example of a true success story.”

The award follows other recognition for VA’s response to Hurricane Katrina, including a U.S. Senate resolution. Past recipients of the Public Spirit Award include Ronald Reagan, Madeleine K. Albright and Colin L. Powell.

In another matter related to the devastation, senior VA leaders and officials of Louisiana State University signed an agreement in Baton Rouge, La., to create a partnership that would bring state-of-the-art medical care to downtown New Orleans.

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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