- The Washington Times - Monday, March 20, 2006

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

Our dad was a hospital corpsman during World War II. He served in the South Pacific, and was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his lifesaving efforts. Our efforts to resurrect his record of service and awards have reached a couple of obstacles: We can’t find his service number, and although he entered the Navy sometime in the spring of 1941, we don’t know the exact date. Where do we go from here?


Col. John S.

Retired U.S. Marine Corps reservist

Dear John:

The easiest way to request the records is directly from the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. Check out the Web address www.archives. gov/st-louis/military-person nel/standard-form-180.html, which provides the process and provides downloadable forms.

You should provide his Social Security number and whatever information you have on the Standard Form 180.

Thanks for your and your father’s service.

Shaft notes

With obesity and deadly diabetes at significantly higher levels among America’s veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have announced a coordinated campaign to educate veterans and their families about ways to combat these health issues.

“Inactive lifestyles and unhealthy eating habits can cause needless suffering for America’s veterans,” said Jim Nicholson, secretary of veterans affairs. “Obesity and diabetes are major threats to the health and lifestyles of our veterans, deserving a robust campaign to better educate them on healthy habits.”

Veterans are more likely than the general population to have diabetes, one of the major complications associated with being overweight. According to the American Diabetes Association, 7 percent of the U.S. population has diabetes, and the rate increases with age. Among veterans receiving VA health care, who are on average older than the general population, the rate is 20 percent.

“Central to our goal of controlling the cost of heath care is the promotion of wellness, fitness and the prevention of chronic disease. We are working to encourage Americans to adopt a healthy lifestyle and to take responsibility for making wise choices to improve their fitness and health,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt.

The “HealthierUS Veterans” campaign is a multipronged educational effort to encourage healthy eating and physical activity among veterans, their families and members of their communities.

VA medical centers will promote nutrition and exercise with local groups in 40 communities that receive grants from HHS in a program called “Steps to a HealthierUS.”

Regional educational campaigns will kick off this spring in four cities where VA and HHS Steps programs collaborate. Local celebrities and members of veterans service organizations will be invited to participate.

In May, the “HealthierUS Veterans” program will participate with the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports during the council’s annual rally in Washington.

• The Sarge is looking forward to joining other members of the National Press Club and their guests at a luncheon featuring Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson.

As the president said when he announced Mr. Nicholson’s nomination: “Jim Nicholson is a patriot, a man of deep conviction who has answered his country’s call many times. As a young man from Iowa, raised in modest circumstances, he became a cadet at West Point in the late 1950s and went on to become an Army Ranger and paratrooper.

“As a Ranger, he fought in Vietnam, where he won multiple decorations for bravery in combat, including the Bronze Star and the Combat Infantry Badge. After eight years on active duty, he joined the Army Reserves, where he served for 22 more years before retiring as a full colonel.

“Throughout his career, Jim has shown the same honor, integrity and commitment to service that defined his life as a military officer. He and his wife, Suzanne, have given back generously to their community and have been leaders in numerous volunteer causes in their home state of Colorado. He was a respected chairman of the Republican National Committee. And for the past three years, he has served as the United States ambassador to the Vatican. Jim has worked with the Vatican to advance many vital foreign policy goals, including fighting poverty, hunger, AIDS, expanding religious liberty around the world, and ending the brutal practice of human trafficking.

“As secretary of Veterans Affairs, he leads a department of more than 230,000 employees responsible for ensuring that our nation’s veterans receive the health care and other benefits our country has promised them.”

This luncheon will be next Monday at noon. For additional information, contact Pat Nelson at 202/662-7500.

• 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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