- The Washington Times - Monday, January 14, 2008

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

Do you have any knowledge about the possibility of receiving compensation through the U.S. military if the child of a soldier was seriously injured in a public swimming pool in Germany?


Bruce K.

Via the Internet

Dear Bruce:

My sources tell me, as the injury occurred in a public facility in Germany, there is likely nothing that would involve the U.S. government, one way or another, in any petition by the military parent for redress.

The fact that the parent was in Germany pursuant to military orders doesn’t change things. If the military parent had an auto accident there, for example, it would be handled strictly by German courts. There might be a German lawyer working in the on-base legal office, whose normal job is to assist U.S. personnel with such matters, but usually such involvement is limited largely to steering the U.S. person to a capable German lawyer.

Shaft notes

• Maryland Public Television (MPT) will air a 10-part series from April 27 to May 1 titled “Carrier,” which was filmed by a crew embedded on the USS Nimitz during their deployment in 2005.

MPT is interested in adding a 30-minute segment highlighting Marylanders who have served on the Nimitz. They would like to interview Maryland residents who have served on the Nimitz at any time since it was commissioned. If any of my readers are interested in being interviewed, send an e-mail to carrier@mpt.org. The subject line of your e-mail should be “Response to Carrier Request.”

• Congratulations to the Department of Veterans Affairs for being named a national finalist in the Consumer Empowerment and Protection Awards given by a national accreditation organization. The VA was recognized for its computerized personal health records for veterans known as MyHealtheVet. VA is one of 19 finalists in the Best Practices first-time awards from URAC (formerly the Utilization Review Accreditation Commission), an independent health care accreditation commission.

The contest attracted entries detailing innovative and proven programs to enhance patient safety and give consumers control over their health care. Winners represent health plans, pharmacy benefit management organizations, health care management firms and health information technology companies. The finalists will present their programs at a conference in March.

More information about MyHealtheVet can be found at www.myhealth.va.gov.

In another honor, the Web site for VA’s health care system was recognized for outstanding achievement by the Web Marketing Association.

The Web site received a Government Standard of Excellence award by the nonprofit, volunteer organization made up of Internet marketing, online advertising, public relations and Web site design professionals.

• The Department of Veterans Affairs has advised me of a program evaluation study of its burial benefits program administered by the National Cemetery Administration and Veterans Benefits Administration. A mailed survey of veterans is being conducted through Feb. 28. Focus groups with next of kin and funeral directors also will be conducted. VA will use the information gathered to improve benefits, set priorities and plan national and state veterans cemeteries.

The survey will work as follows: VA drafted a notification letter that was mailed to veterans by Caliber/ICF, a national research firm, the first week of January in advance of the survey package. Veterans were scheduled to receive a second letter and the questionnaire for completion a few days later. To collect the necessary number of responses, 38,733 surveys will be sent this month, with additional surveys in February if needed.

The focus group mailings will be sent at the same time as the survey. Letters informing next of kin and funeral directors that they may be selected to participate in focus groups were to be sent the first week in January. Calls will be made to recruit participants through Jan. 23. Those who agree to participate will receive confirmation letters by Jan. 30. The focus group sessions will be held in February.

Questions regarding the survey or focus groups may be directed to George Fitzelle at 202/461-5770.

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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