- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 3, 2007

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

Where can a widow get her card renewed? It expired April 27. The office in the Bryan-College Station area in Texas is closed. We need a phone number or an address for either Waco or Houston. Thank you for your help.

Pat L.


Dear Pat:

The best way to find ID card offices is by using Department of Defense Rapids Site Locator. Enter at this link: www.dmdc.osd.mil/rsl/owa/home and enter a ZIP code, city, state or country. The site will offer up the three nearest locations’ names, addresses and phone numbers.

Some of these locations are Reserve or National Guard bases that people often overlook. There are several locations in Houston, though I didn’t see any in Waco. It’s always a good idea to call before you go to ensure you meet the local requirements.

Shaft notes

c Congratulations to two fellow veterans, Dr. Michael J. Kussman and Thomas E. Harvey, on their confirmations by the U.S. Senate to positions in the Department of Veterans of Affairs (VA).

Dr. Kussman was confirmed as undersecretary for health and Mr. Harvey as assistant secretary for congressional and legislative affairs.

“The continued service of these two dedicated public servants will significantly advance the interests of America’s veterans,” said Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson. “Their confirmations are good news for veterans and their families.”

Dr. Kussman, a native of Troy, N.Y., joined the VA in 2000. Among his VA positions, he has served as principal deputy undersecretary for health and, since August, as acting undersecretary for health. A graduate of Boston University Medical School, he is a retired Army brigadier general who spent more than 25 years on active duty. He commanded the Walter Reed Health Care System and the European Regional Medical Command.

Mr. Harvey, who holds a law degree from the University of Notre Dame, commanded an airborne infantry company during the Vietnam War. He holds the Silver Star and the Purple Heart. He was deputy administrator of the VA’s predecessor organization, the Veterans Administration, from 1986 to 1989.

• Rep. Bob Filner, California Democrat, met with both Democratic and Republican members of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee and recently led a roundtable discussion to address new and unique ways of reducing the claims backlog at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“This roundtable is intended to open up the broader thought process of how the VA can best serve our veterans,” Mr. Filner said. “Participants were asked to bring all proposals and ideas to the table to reduce the claims backlog. As a group, we were able to identify specific problems with the process that contribute to the backlog and discuss many creative and thoughtful solutions.”

It is clear that the VA has a problem with processing disability claims, and we need to take bold action. Participants noted the need to retain and recruit employees to the VA and the need to upgrade to an electronic records system for submitting claims.

• The Sarge is looking forward to joining the Blinded American Veterans Foundation (BAVF) and its guests at the 22nd annual congressional awards reception from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on June 14 in Room 334 of the Cannon House Office Building. The annual event, held in conjunction with the foundation’s Flag Week observance, honors members of Congress, members of the media and volunteers.

The recipients of the 2007 George “Buck” Gillispie Congressional Award for Meritorious Service are Reps. Howard Coble, North Carolina Republican, and Tim Holden, Pennsylvania 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 rehabilitate visually impaired veterans.

The Carlton Sherwood Media Award, named in honor of the Pulitzer- and Peabody-winning journalist and highly decorated Marine veteran of Vietnam, will be presented to ABC News producer Gina Sunseri and country singer Keni Thomas.

The George Alexander Memorial Volunteer Award, created in memory of a great friend of U.S. veterans will be presented to veterans advocate Michael D. Tomsey and Rene C. Bardorf, of the Marine For Life and Semper Fi Fund programs.

The Corporate Volunteer Award will be presented to Col. Lee Van Arsdale, chief executive officer of Triple Canopy Inc.

A joint 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 16 in Silver Spring. Flags that have flown over the U.S. Capitol will be presented to many guests.

For more information regarding these events, call 202/462-4430.

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, P.O. 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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