- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

I am currently awaiting a decision from the VA on my compensation. According to my social worker, I am on a decision maker’s desk and currently in the normal time period required by law giving them time to make the decision. In December 2005, myself and three other soldiers went to a restaurant while stationed in Germany. While waiting for our meal, there was a commotion in the back of the restaurant.

Well, my noncommissioned officer in charge tried to resolve the issue by offering to pay for the difference himself. Somehow, a fight broke out and my peacemaker officer was left bleeding on the floor. While coming to his aid, I was hit with a right hook that embedded my glasses into my cheekbone and shattered my left lens into my eye.

I then felt my cheek and looked down to see the blood upon my hand. I was taken to the local civilian emergency room where they had to perform surgery to remove the glass from my eye. I recently attended the Central Blind Rehabilitation Center at Hines, Ill., and it was there that they suggested that I contact you to ensure that my claim is properly reviewed.

John T.

Dear John:

The top apparatchiks at Veterans Affairs have advised me that the VA regional office is awaiting additional evidence pertinent to your claim before issuing a statement of the case (response).

Medical evidence was received on April 22 and required translation from German records. These records were translated and considered in support of your appeal. Based on a review of these medical records, you will be examined for two previously denied conditions. When these examinations are received, a decision on entitlement to service connection for these issues will be made. The VA has assured me that your VA regional office has contacted you to inform you of this current information.

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

Please help us contact our shipmates for the upcoming 2008 reunion of the Invincible USS James Kauffman, and his wife, Renee.

Some of the highlights of this year´s reunion include visiting the Hyannis Port, whale watching and, of course, a hospitality room that will be open daily. The reunion provides us with an opportunity to express our pride in serving on the USS Cleveland CL55, while sharing wonderful memories with old buddies.

For more information, please contact Harold White at 949/361-9083 or e-mail [email protected] Thanks, Sarge, for helping us get the word out.

Paul (Buzz) Smith

Shaft notes

New York City to honor the top recipients of the RFB&D National Achievement Awards.

Six top honors students from across the country each received a cash prize of $6,000. In addition, the winners met with first lady White House, visited the Capitol and were the guests of honor at a congressional reception in February.

RFB&D selects and honors 15 students in recognition of their extraordinary leadership, scholarship, enterprise and service to others. This year´s winners of the Mary P. Oenslager Scholastic Achievement Award for college seniors who are blind or visually impaired:

  • Juliet Cody, Calif.: Early in her adult life, Juliet developed retinitis pigmentosa and quickly began to lose her eyesight. Not only did RFB&D´s audiobooks give Juliet independence, they helped her become an honors student and re-establish her confidence.
  • Jessie Kirchner, Guilford, Conn.: Jessie, one of four surviving quintuplets, was the first blind child to be mainstreamed in her town´s public school. With the help of assistive technology, she excelled through her early school years. Of RFB&D´s audiobooks, Jessie comments, “There came a time during high school when I couldn´t imagine being without them. … RFB&D´s books were indispensable to me.”
  • Tiffany West, Lincoln, Neb.: With few accommodations made for her visual impairment during her early schooling, Tiffany´s sheer determination to succeed ensured that she kept pace with her classmates.
  • Kirsten Amling, Santa Barbara, Calif.: Kirsten, like many other RFB&D members, spent many of her early years longing to be considered “normal.” She said she developed a passion for ballet dancing as a way to express herself freely without “being encumbered by words.”
  • Abby Nash, Louisville, Ky.: Abby was formally diagnosed with a central auditory processing disorder, which she considers to be a “minor setback.” “I’ve made sure I have not let it stop me from doing the things I love,” she said, adding that RFB&D has made “such a difference in my life and has contributed to my success.”
  • Daniel Steck, San Antonio: Diagnosed with dyslexia in third grade, Daniel started using RFB&D´s audiobooks on a regular basis, fueling his love of reading. “RFB&D opened up this world for me. Unlike my father, who also has dyslexia, I never came to dread books, but instead saw them as doors to knowledge and adventure,” he said.
  • For more information on RFB&D, volunteering or making a donation, call toll-free 866/RFBD-585 (866/732-3585) or visit RFB&D´s accessible Web site at www.rfbd.org.

    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 [email protected]

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