- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

May I request an update on concurrent receipt for those of us veterans who are eligible for Chapter 61, who served less than 20 years, have a 100 percent permanent Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) rating and are not retired under individual unemployability? My understanding is that those who are eligible are not affected by the 10-year phase-in schedule.

When will this go into effect? When will we be notified?

Thank you for your assistance.

Frank, via the Internet

Dear Frank:

My experts tell me that this goes into effect Oct. 1, with retroactive payments back to Jan. 1, 2005, if the retiree has held the rating that long. You probably won´t be notified; it simply will appear in your pay. You should expect the prospective payment to be deposited in November for your October pay. The retroactive amount will take longer to calculate and pay. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service isn´t saying how long.

Dear Sir:

A very good friend, officer and shipmate is going downhill fast, according to his wife. What she would like to know is if it is possible to have a naval chaplain perform the services at his funeral. He is not a member of any service organization. They reside in Middletown, N.Y. Is there any possibility you might know of naval chaplain services in the Middletown area or close by there?

Thank you.

Lawrence S.

Elizabeth, Pa.

Dear Lawrence:

Funeral directors are the people who arrange for funeral honors and have all of the instructions for those requirements. The funeral director will make these arrangements with the military service and, absent that, support information on veterans organization honor guards.

The director will need to be provided a copy of the veteran´s military discharge, DD Form 214, to secure these arrangements and other veterans benefits - such as a flag to drape the casket, a headstone or memorial marker - and other matters with the VA.

My friends at the Non Commissioned Officers Association have always suggested that the service member and family members contact and visit their local funeral homes to ensure that the director is familiar with arrangements for military funeral honors, etc. The director also can advise on the availability of national cemeteries and state veteran cemeteries for both interment and inurnment.

The final selection of a local funeral home should be based on obvious professionalism in services, facilities, reputation and confidence in the staff.

It is much better that the family be aware of options before the death of the veteran than pursue this service when the family is overcome with personal emotion.

Shaft notes

The VA will open three Veterans Rural Health Resource Centers on Wednesday to better understand rural health issues for veterans and develop special practices and products to implement across the country.

“For our veterans living in rural areas, the nearest medical center can be miles away,” said VA Secretary Dr. James B. Peake. “VA´s commitment is to provide the best quality care to veterans, regardless of their address. These centers are a major step toward ensuring that commitment is met.”

The centers will serve as satellite offices for VA´s Office of Rural Health. The Eastern center will be located in Vermont at the White River Junction VA Medical Center, the central region’s center will be at the Iowa City VA Medical Center, and the Western region’s office at the Salt Lake City VA Medical Center.

Each resource center will be staffed with administrative, clinical and research staff members, who will identify disparities in health care for rural veterans and formulate practices or programs to enhance the delivery of care.

“VA has always been committed to providing quality care to rural veterans,” said Dr. Michael J. Kussman, VA´s undersecretary for health. “These centers will allow us to better identify and meet the unique needs of our rural veterans as their population continues to grow.”

More than 80 percent of a sample of Air Force women deployed in Iraq and other areas around the world report suffering from persistent fatigue, fever, hair loss and difficulty concentrating, according to a University of Michigan study.

University researcher Penny Pierce and her colleagues conducted a similar study of female veterans in 1992 following the 1991 Gulf War to assess the impact of deployment and combat exposure on physical and mental health.

An associate professor at the university’s School of Nursing and a faculty associate at its Institute for Social Research (ISR), Ms. Pierce is also a colonel in the Air Force Reserve. With ISR psychologist Lisa Lewandowski-Romps, she presented the findings from the study Aug. 14 in Boston at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association.

“Women now comprise approximately 15 percent of our nation´s armed forces,” Ms. Pierce said. “And since the Persian Gulf War, combat roles for women have expanded substantially. This study is an attempt to understand the impact of deployment and war-related stressors on the health of military women.”

In most cases, women serving in the theater of war were more likely to report physical health problems than were than those serving elsewhere. In many cases, however, the differences were small, suggesting to Ms. Pierce that deployment-related stressors such as family separation and disruption of social support systems may play a critical role in developing stress-related physical problems.

“By identifying problems early, I hope our findings will guide policymakers and health care professions to design interventions to support service members and their families,” she said.

The study is part of an ongoing research program on female veterans funded by the TriService Nursing Research Program.

• 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]

“Women now comprise approximately 15 percent of our nation´s armed forces. And since the Persian Gulf War, combat roles for women have expanded substantially.” - Researcher Penny Pierce

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