- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 24, 2006

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

Just read your response to a veteran’s widow regarding burial with her husband at Arlington National Cemetery. What is required for burial of a retired U.S. Air Force member at Arlington National?

Thanks,

USAF veteran

Laurel, MD

Dear vet:

The powers that be tell me that you (and other vets who served 20 years on active duty) only need a copy of the DD-214 military discharge document. Also, you might want to review the Arlington National Cemetery Web site, www.arlingtoncemetery.org, for further information.

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

Here is a heads up on upcoming activities for VFW Post 8469 in Fairfax, which I think you might enjoy.

From 2 to 5 p.m. on Oct. 7, our post will celebrate our 60th anniversary at the Green Acres Center, 4401 Sideburn Road in Fairfax.

Past Post Commander Ralph Smith, a retired Navy captain and a veteran of the Korea and Vietnam wars, will deliver a speech honoring our four remaining charter members from 1946. Post Commander Jim Coates, a Vietnam veteran, will recognize our estimated 60 World War II veterans. A video display will recall the collective experiences of our post members, inspired by Oliver Wendell Holmes’ 1895 Memorial Day speech, “The Soldier’s Faith,” and its famous line: “We have shared the incommunicable experience of war.”

D.C. and Virginia VFW officials have been invited. There will be refreshments and an opportunity to talk with area veterans from every conflict from World War II to the global war on terror.

Sincerely,

Floyd Houston, junior vice commander

VFW Post 8469

Dear Floyd:

Good luck with your event.

Shaft notes

The Department of Defense honored the 15 best employers of National Guard and Reserve members on Thursday with the 2006 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.

Hundreds of National Guard and Reserve members from across the country nominated their employers for exceptional provision of continued benefits, differential pay, family assistance and additional support to ease their transition from civilian employees to active military personnel and back. From those nominations, the Pentagon’s Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve agency selected the 15 most exemplary employers — large and small, public and private. The following is a list of this year’s recipients:

AgCountry Farm Credit Services — Fargo, N.D.

Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America — Minneapolis

Baptist Health — Little Rock, Ark.

BNSF Railway Co. — Fort Worth, Texas

Cardi’s Furniture Superstores — Swansea, Mass.

Commonwealth of Massachusetts — Boston

Computer Sciences Corp. — El Segundo, Calif.

DuPont — Wilmington, Del.

Fred Fletemeyer Co. — Colorado Springs

MGM Mirage — Las Vegas

SkyLine Membership Corp. — West Jefferson, N.C.

South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department — Pierre, S.D.

Starbucks Corp. — Seattle

State of Vermont — Montpelier

Sun Valley General Improvement District — Sun Valley, Nev.

• • •

The Paralyzed Veterans of America recently alerted me to the following important information for people with disabilities. The Equal Rights Center, a nonprofit civil rights organization, announced the settlement of a lawsuit against the District of Columbia that will require the city to make its 17,000 parking meters more accessible to people with disabilities.

The city also enacted legislation that restores the ability of people with disabilities to use their out-of-state parking permits in the District.

In 2002, the city started charging people with disability placards or plates at all parking meters in the city. Those with D.C. placards were granted twice the amount of time on the meter but still had to pay. The District had been the only jurisdiction in the U.S. that did not recognize parking placards issued by other jurisdictions. Minimal efforts were made to improve design of the meters or the right-of-way access to them.

Russell Holt, a wheelchair user, asserted in the initial suit that the meters were inaccessible to him because they were too high or because he was unable to maneuver his wheelchair close enough to the meter to reach the coin slot. Uneven or cracked sidewalks, lack of curb cuts, and other obstacles such as flower boxes and concrete barriers prevented him from getting to the meter.

Under the terms of this settlement, the District will:

• Ensure that each block with parking meters has curb ramps and that at least one curb ramp at each corner of intersecting metered blocks conforms with the newest accessibility standards.

• Install and designate at least two wheelchair-accessible parking meters on each block containing parking meters.

• Require that any newly installed meters be at an accessible height and face the sidewalk.

• Remove other sidewalk barriers, such as planters and uneven surfaces, to create accessible routes.

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 sgtshaft@bavf.org.

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