- The Washington Times - Monday, October 1, 2007

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

I need your wisdom.

I have 21 years of active-duty service and I”m being medically retired for a combat-related back injury. I was told that if my Veterans Affairs rating, which will be 80 percent, is more than my retired pay I won’t receive concurrent receipt; I will just receive VA compensation. I don”t believe that”s correct. Can you assist me?

Also, should I take the medical retirement? I go to the formal board to fight for more than 10 percent for my back and the fact that it”s combat-related. I have extensive medical records including an MRI. Can you please advise? Thank you for your time.


Dear Don:

Disability compensation from the VA isn’t taxable. If the VA rates you higher than 50 percent disabled, you also will receive concurrent retirement and disability pay from your branch of service. That will phase in your retired pay over the next seven years until it’s paid in full in 2014. If you apply to your branch of service Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC) board and your application is approved, you will receive your VA compensation, tax-exempt. If there is any remaining retired pay above your CRSC, that part of your military retirement will be subject to income tax.

You probably should take the medical retirement if you think it”s fair.

As I mentioned in my e-mail to you, I hope you were able to obtain a representative to appear with you before the board.

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

My name is Judy McCloskey and I am the founder of CatholicMil.org, petitioner for the cause of Vietnam Medal of Honor recipient Chaplain Vincent Robert Capodanno. I am only now becoming aware of the good work being accomplished through your foundation.

Given your Sgt. Shaft article as well as your membership in the National Press Club, I am hoping you’re interested in learning more about the cause of Lt. Capodanno, whose life was steadfastly dedicated to serving his Marines and making it known to your readership. Right now, we are working to generate a groundswell of interest within various military and veterans organizations to do, if you will pardon the pun, some grunt work.

In addition to always being on the lookout for more testimonies from those who served with Lt. Capodanno, we are looking for a few people to simply help get the word out on a local level across the country and around the world. If you are interested, I invite you to read an excerpt from the book “The Grunt Padre” by Father Daniel L. Mode, available online.

Semper fi.

Judy McCloskey



Dear Judy:

I am looking forward to reading this book about a wonderful American hero. I hope my readers do the same.

Shaft notes

The American Film Foundation, Sanders and Mock Productions and friends of Uniformed Services University (USU) are sponsoring a preview screening of “Fighting for Life,” a new documentary by two-time Academy-Award-winning filmmaker Terry Sanders. This powerful story of American military doctors, nurses and the wounded in a time of war will be shown to invited guests at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Florence Gould Hall, 55 E. 59th St. in New York.

“Fighting for Life” is a powerful and emotional feature film, a real-life “M.A.S.H.” for our times, the story of doctors and nurses fighting on the front lines in the battle for life, interweaving three stories:

• Military doctors and nurses, working with compassion, skills and dedication in the vortex of the Iraq war.

• Wounded soldiers and Marines, reacting with courage, dignity and determination to survive and to heal.

• Students at USU, the West Point of military medicine, on their journey to becoming career military physicians.

The film also follows 21-year-old Army Spc. Crystal Davis from Iraq to Germany, and to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the District, as she fights to recover and “bounce back” from the loss of a leg by an improvised explosive device. For additional information, contact am.film @verizon.net or go to www. fightingforlifethemovie.com.

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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