- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dear Sgt. Shaft,

Thank you for your service and the privilege to ask you a question.

When I first got my disability, I got a sample paper with three benefits that would be given if I was rated “Total and Permanent.” The last one listed was not having to pay property tax on my land and house.

I have not been able to find out anything on this subject since I became T&P; about four months ago, retroactive to last October. Can you please let me know if I would get a break on my property tax without having to make modifications to the house for my disability? I have not had to do this yet, but if I live long enough, I probably will need to do it.

I am 51, and I served in the Navy on the USS Mississippi CGN-40 from 1981 to 1983 and then as an oceans systems tech at Dam Neck, Va., until 1985, at which time I was honorably discharged. I was injured on my ship in December 1981.


North Carolina

Dear Sam,

North Carolina does afford special tax consideration, including the following, for disabled veterans. The North Carolina Division of Veterans Affairs may be contacted at 919/733-3851 for assistance on this subject:

“Certain Vehicles. A motor vehicle owned by a disabled veteran that is altered with special equipment to accommodate a service-connected disability. As used in this section, disabled veteran means a person as defined in 38 U.S.C. § 101(2) who is entitled to special automotive equipment for a service-connected disability.

“Specially Adapted Housing. Disabled veterans who receive U.S. Government assistance under Title 38, United States Code Annotated for the acquisition of specially adapted housing are eligible for an exclusion from ad valorem taxation on the first $38,000 in assessed value of housing together with the necessary land therefore which is owned and used as a residence by the disabled veteran.”

Shaft notes

Congratulations to the U.S. Department of Labor´s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) on the unveiling of two vital initiatives aimed at promoting the hiring of veterans and protecting the rights of applicants with disabilities: the Good-Faith Initiative for Veterans Employment (G-FIVE) and Ensuring the Accessibility of Online Application Systems.

“The G-FIVE was created to address the employment challenges facing the veteran work force today by recognizing federal contractors for their efforts in employing and advancing covered veterans,” said Charles E. James Sr., deputy assistant secretary for OFCCP. “It reaffirms OFCCP´s commitment to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act and creates an excellent incentive for federal contractors to hire veterans.”

“The G-FIVE also strengthens partnerships between OFCCP and veterans groups and other agencies,” added Victoria A. Lipnic, assistant secretary of labor for employment standards. “It´s an OFCCP initiative that supports America´s heroes.”

The second initiative, Ensuring the Accessibility of Online Application Systems, is designed to ensure that federal contractors and subcontractors provide equal opportunity to qualified applicants with disabilities, including disabled veterans, to compete for jobs when using an online application system. Electronic job-application systems must be accessible to, and usable by, applicants who have disabilities, or the contractor must provide a reasonable accommodation that provides an equal opportunity to compete for a job.

“Nothing is more fundamental to equal employment opportunity than the opportunity to apply for a job,” Mr. James said. “As more and more employers turn to the Internet to locate and screen job applicants, this initiative is crucial to ensuring that disabled veterans and other qualified individuals with disabilities are afforded that opportunity when an online system is used.”

Kudos to the Fleet Reserve Association (FRA), which will have awarded more than $104,000 in scholarships to its members, their spouses, children and grandchildren who are pursuing higher education in the 2008-09 academic year. Recipients are selected based on financial need, academic standing, character and leadership qualities. This year´s 28 awards are funded through private donations, established trusts and corporate sponsorships.

Applications for FRA´s 2009-10 scholarship program will be available in September 2008. The application form and more information about FRA’s scholarship program are available at the association´s Web site (www.fra.org).

FRA is a congressionally chartered nonprofit organization representing the interests of current and former enlisted members of the Sea Service community, including the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. In addition to its advocacy work on Capitol Hill in support of enlisted personnel, FRA aids its members with career issues by working closely with government agencies and educating lawmakers about the challenges facing those who serve in the armed forces.

The nonprofit organization behind “Sesame Street Live” and the USO (United Service Organizations) recently announced the Sesame Street Experience for Military Families: a free traveling tour to military installations across the country.

The tour, produced by VEE Corp., is part of Sesame Workshop´s Talk, Listen, Connect initiative, a military outreach program that launched in 2006. The initiative provides support and offers significant resources for military families with young children experiencing the effects of deployment, multiple deployments or when a parent returns home changed because of a combat-related injury.

Military families that participate in the experience will see a live character performance and receive giveaways and outreach materials from Talk, Listen, Connect and other partners. The tour officially kicked off on July 8 at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center 29 Palms in California and will visit 43 installations across the country.

“This is a terrific, groundbreaking new program for military families,” said Edward A. Powell, president and chief executive of USO World Headquarters.

For up-to-date tour information and schedule, click here.

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, P.O. Box 65900, Washington, DC 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330; call 202/257-5446; or e-mail [email protected]

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