- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 21, 2006

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

I would like to know if a veteran who is filing for disability benefits has to have a C&P; exam performed by a Veterans Affairs examiner if a private-practice specialist uses the VA C&P; format and covers everything that a VA examiner would cover in the exam. Where would I find this ruling/law?



Dear B:

The answer is no: A Compensation & Pension exam is not required, but is generally encouraged.

Reports from treating health care providers may be accepted under 38 CFR 3.326 without a separate C&P; examination if they are otherwise adequate for rating purposes. However, it is normally necessary to obtain a C&P; examination to ensure that your determinations are based on objective and critical findings supported by adequate explanation and sufficient observation and testing. Determinations regarding the adequacy of reports from treating health care providers (including their qualifications) and the need for a C&P; examination is made on a case-by-case basis.

Shaft notes

A sad farewell to good friend G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery, who recently passed away. I join Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson, who remembered Sonny in saying, “The Department of Veterans Affairs and the entire veterans community mourn the passing of Sonny Montgomery. I knew him as ‘Mr. Veteran,’ as did nearly everyone on Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C., and in his home state of Mississippi.”

Sonny was a veteran of two wars, served in the Mississippi state Legislature and later in the halls of Congress, where he became a giant. He was one of America’s strongest advocates for the men and women in uniform, and he was a dedicated statesman.

After nearly three decades on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, including 13 years as its chairman, Sonny left an indelible mark on the history of veterans and military services in America. His efforts to improve veterans’ educational benefits reached a zenith in 1984 with what we now refer to as the Montgomery G.I. Bill of Rights.

• I am sure Sonny Montgomery is proudly smiling down from his heavenly veterans command post as Sen. Larry E. Craig, Idaho Republican, praised a federal VA home loan program for veterans.

“Recently, Secretary Jim Nicholson announced that a veteran who served in Iraq is the 18 millionth recipient of a home loan guaranteed by the VA. This is clearly a program that is serving veterans well,” said Mr. Craig, chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

VA-guaranteed home loans are made by banks and mortgage companies to veterans, service members, eligible reservists and eligible survivors. With VA backing a portion of the loan, veterans can receive a competitive interest rate without a down payment, making it easier to buy a home. It also eliminates the need for veterans to pay costly mortgage insurance premiums when making monthly loan payments.

More information about VA home loan benefits is available on the Web at www.homeloans.va.gov or by calling 800/827-1000.

• The Sarge is looking forward to joining the Blinded American Veterans Foundation (BAVF), Rep. Michael Bilirakis, Florida Republican, and their guests at the 21st annual congressional awards reception June 15 at the Cannon House Office Building. The event, held in conjunction with the foundation’s Flag Day observance, honors members of Congress, the press and volunteers.

The recipients of the 2006 George “Buck” Gillispie Congressional Award for Meritorious Service are Sen. Larry E. Craig, Idaho Republican, and Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat. The award is named in honor of the late “Buck” Gillispie, a blinded World War II veteran who devoted more than 40 years of service toward efforts to aid in rehabilitation of visually impaired veterans.

The Carlton Sherwood Media Award, named in honor of the Pulitzer and Peabody Award-winning journalist and highly decorated USMC Vietnam veteran, will be presented to Madeline LaCore, WUSA-TV 9 and Military.com. This year’s recipients of the George Alexander Memorial Award for Volunteer Service are E. “Swede” Huelsewede and William Lehtio. The BAVF’s Corporate Award will be presented to McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant.

The George Alexander Volunteer Service Award was created in memory of a great friend of American veterans. A Joint Armed Forces Color Guard will set the stage for the awards ceremony, and the Marine Corps’ brass quintet will entertain guests with a medley of patriotic music.

The congressional reception precedes the BAVF Flag Week picnic on June 17 in Silver Spring. This year’s picnic will honor John Cosgrove, senior past president of the National Press Club. For additional information, call the BAVF at 202/462 4430.

• 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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