- The Washington Times - Monday, March 17, 2008

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

I hope you can help me. I am trying to get a definitive answer regarding my eligibility for either burial or inurnment in Arlington National Cemetery. The information I got from a cemetery employee appears to contradict what I later found on its Web site.

Here are the facts: I was drafted into the Army during the Korean War. My primary tour of duty was in Germany during the latter part of the German occupation era. While I was there, I was injured and was returned to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Subsequently, I was placed on temporary disability retirement with a 30 percent disability rating. In 1958, I was placed on permanent retirement. My separation was honorable. My current disability rating is 50 percent.

If I am not eligible for Arlington National Cemetery, would I be eligible for burial or inurnment at either a Veterans Affairs or state veterans cemetery? Thank you for your assistance.

Charles M.

Wheaton, Md.

Dear Charles:

My sources at Arlington National Cemetery tell me that you will be entitled to inurnment of your cremated remains in the columbarium, as are all veterans who have one period of active duty ending with an honorable discharge.

As to the question about veterans who have a disability: Any former member of the armed forces separated honorably prior to Oct. 1, 1949, for medical reasons with a 30 percent or greater disability rating effective on the day of discharge is entitled to ground burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

I write to call your readers’ attention to the loss from our veterans community of one of our most effective leaders. On Feb. 12, Richard Bolling Fuller died of cancer.

Until about a year ago, Richard was national legislative director of Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), but as you well know, inside our group Richard was so much more.

Richard was a thinker, a true intellectual, a determined advocate for veterans and Veterans Affairs, and both a student and a steward of historic preservation. (His was often a lonely voice for saving VA’s many historic properties.) For the past 20 years, Richard devoted himself to maintenance of a high-quality VA system for paralyzed veterans, and for all sick and disabled veterans, by promoting better policies and sufficient budgets to govern their care. Richard was the engine of many positions held by the community of national organizations who are concerned about VA health care, biomedical research and graduate medical education programs.

In a fitting tribute, our friend will be buried on St. Patrick’s Day, with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

John M. Bradley

Reston, Va.

Dear John:

I will be joining you and other friends today at Arlington to say farewell to a great veterans advocate. It somehow seems appropriate that Rich will be buried on St. Patrick’s Day, a day of shared memories, laughter, song and toasts.

Shaft notes

I received the following missive from Ken Fulmer of Vet Homes Foundation regarding the response he received from his previous letter to the column.

Dear Mr. Fulmer:

I am writing to you on behalf of Nintendo of America in response to the recent letter you wrote to Sgt. Shaft. We are very sorry to hear about the difficulty you have been having in securing Wii systems for your program and regret that in your first attempt to reach Nintendo you were denied your request. We would like to formally look into your request to not only find out why you were originally denied and to determine if we can indeed help you in your search.

We fully support our troops and veterans and do what we can to help with their needs. We also know about the hard work of doctors, therapists and senior home leaders that incorporate Wii into their programs and want to continue to support them in their efforts.

Please contact me to discuss your request in more detail. Thank you for your interest in Nintendo and your invaluable support of our country’s veterans. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best,

Conor Campbell

Nintendo of America

• 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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