- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dear Sgt Shaft,

My brother-in-law served in the Army at a base in Texas during the Korea War. He has just filed for benefits now and has been told that he is eligible but that he cannot receive benefits before he filed a claim. Is this true? Can he get any retroactive benefits? Thanks. - Missed the Boat in Florida?

Dear Missed,

Unfortunately, since your brother did not file his claim within a year of his release from active duty, the award can only be established from the date his claim was received by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Under the provisions of the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 38 3.400, except as otherwise provided, the effective date of an evaluation and award of pension, compensation or dependency and indemnity compensation based on an original claim, a claim reopened after final disallowance, or a claim for increase will be the date of receipt of the claim or the date entitlement arose, whichever is the later.

38 CFR 3.400(b)(2)(i) says thatthe effective date for disability compensation is the day following separation from active service or the date entitlement arose if the claim is received within one year after separation from service. Otherwise, the effective date is the date of receipt of the claim, or the date entitlement arose, whichever is later. Separation from service means separation under conditions other than dishonorable from continuous active service, which extended from the date the disability was incurred or aggravated.

Shaft notes

In continuing efforts to support our military families with young children and help them stay connected, feel reassured and comforted, Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind “Sesame Street,”unveiled the Sesame Street Family ConnectionsWeb site and recently rolled out 35 “Sesame Rooms” across the United States.

These new resources are part of Sesame’s ongoing Talk, Listen, Connect - or TLC -initiative, which provides support and offers significant resources for military families with young children experiencing the effects of deployments, such as when a parent returns home changed owing to a combat-related injury or when the newest phase of deployment is announced. It also helps children cope with the death of a loved one.

The announcements were made by Brig. Gen. Loree K. Sutton, director of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury; Patty Shinseki, member of the board of directors of the Military Child Education Coalition; Gary E. Knell, president and chief executive officer of Sesame Workshop; and “Sesame Street”stars Elmo and his Dadat the Military Child Education Coalition’s national conference.

The Sesame Street Family ConnectionsWeb site (www.SesameStreetFamilyConnections.org) is a bilingual (English/Spanish), child-centered online space where both children and adults can interact and stay connected when distance makes everyday communication difficult.

With the help of their favorite “Sesame Street” friends, family members can compose encouraging messages to each other, share artwork and videos, upload photos, and get answers to some questions they may have but didn’t know how to ask.

Sesame Street Family Connectionswill serve as the common and private online place to keep military families connected across the globe.

Scholarships

Kudos to the Fleet Reserve Association (FRA) for its ongoing effort to support America’s future leaders by awarding nearly $100,000 in scholarships to its members, their spouses, children and grandchildren who are pursuing higher education in the 2009-2010 academic year.

More than 200 students applied for the annual scholarship program, in which recipients are selected based on financial need, academic standing, character and leadership qualities.

This year’s 23 awards are funded through private donations, established trusts and corporate sponsorships. In conjunction with its scholarship program, the FRA is establishing a new education foundation that will officially be announced at the association’s 82nd national convention in October.

Further information about the association’s scholarship program is available at www.fra.org/scholarship. Applications for FRA’s 2010-2011 scholarships will be available online after Sept. 1.

House votes

House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Filner, California Democrat, announced that the House of Representatives voted to approve two measures concerning veterans.

H.R. 1037 - Pilot College Work Study Programs for Veterans Act of 2009 (sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, South Dakota Democrat) - directs the secretary of veterans affairs to conduct a five-year pilot project to test the feasibility and advisability of expanding the scope of qualifying veterans’ work-study activities and authorizes student veterans to participate in work-study positions in academic departments.

Mr. Filner provided the following statement in support of H.R. 1037: “As a former university professor, I understand the financial hurdles of paying for a college education and strongly support all methods to make education more affordable for our veterans. This legislation provides an additional avenue for a student veteran to help pay for college and places them on par with other students in the same financial situation. Furthermore, these new work-study positions would provide student veterans with much-needed job skills they can use in their professional career.”

H.R. 402 - To designate the Department of Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic in Knoxville, Tenn., as the William C. Tallent Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic (sponsored by John J. “Jimmy” Duncan Jr., Tennessee Republican). It honors William C. Tallent, a veteran who served his country as an infantryman with the 28th Infantry Division in World War II.

In December 1944, Mr. Tallent was captured and became a prisoner of war after being wounded and missing in action. After four months of captivity, he was successful in escaping enemy hands. He was awarded two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star for his bravery and service to our country.

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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