- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

I am with the U.S. Army. I have 28 years for pay purpose. I entered the Army in 1982. Ten of my total years served were regular active duty. I did an Inter-Service transfer to USPHS (United States Public Health Services) under the Surgeon General for HHS; I accepted a lower rank of O-1 to go active duty in November 2008. (Currently still active duty) I am detailed to a BOP (Bureau of Prisons) at MDC Guaynabo, DOJ Department of Justice, as a register nurse.

Another nurse was commissioned under USPHS also as an O-1 — direct commission, non-veteran, commissioned date on or about August 2008, currently about 2 years 4 months, active duty.

As nurses, we bid for shifts, vacations, etc., with civilians and commissioned officer according to seniority.

According to the department head of my Health Service Department or clinic (which is a commissioned officer of USPHS), they have given O-1 seniority over me. The O-3, effective Jan 1, 2011, will be O-4.

Does Inter-Service Transfer rules apply or not for seniority?

Both nurses were hired initially as civilians and then became commissioned officers. Also the seniority was given to the other nurse never taking into consideration the SCD (Service Computation Date), which also gives me the seniority as a civilian, according to established rules and regulations of the BOP.

I need some guidance.

I see all the USPHS rules and regulations that refer to the different laws
Ex. Title 10 USC

Very respectfully,
Lt. R.,
Via the Internet

Dear Lt. R.:

My sources believe that. If you really want the official scoop, you should contact Capt. Greg Stevens, acting director of the Office of Commissioned Corps Operations at
[email protected] or have your writer do so.

You are defining seniority in “military” terms and the Bureau of Prisons has internal business rules for determining seniority for work assignments. The “military” definitions would apply for promotions, pay, etc. … but in this instance, the internal business rules of BOP or even this particular prison would apply. Since civilians and PHS officers are included in the mix for bidding on shift assignments, it appears seniority is based on the BOP assignment date or even the date work was started at the prison.

BOP is not a “military” organization. but it does use PHS Officers to provide health care services along with civilians. As far as they know, the warden has the authority to establish these rules. If you do not think the “BOP” seniority rules are being uniformly applied, they recommend you work through BOP established labor relations channels and work with the BOP PHS Commissioned Corps Liaison to find resolution.

Shaft notes

Kudos to the Department of Veterans Affairs for their proactive approach in the fight against homelessness

A homeless-prevention program by the VA, which seeks to help veterans and families who are on the verge of becoming homeless, has moved closer to implementation. The program marks the first time that VA will fund services for the spouses and children of veterans at risk of becoming homeless.

“The problems that lead to homelessness begin long before veterans and their families are on the streets,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “By putting more resources into intervention programs for people at risk of becoming homeless, we can reduce suffering and increase the opportunities for turning around these lives.”

Shinseki’s comments came as VA formally announced that it is taking applications from private nonprofit organizations and consumer cooperatives interested in providing needed services to at-risk veterans and their families.

With funding from VA for the program, called Supportive Services for Veterans Families, community organizations will be better able to provide counseling, training, education assistance, direct time-limited financial assistance, transportation, child care, rent, utilities, and other services to participating veterans and family members.

In January, VA is sponsoring free grant-writing workshops for community organizations interested in applying for funds under this program. The workshops will be held in Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, Houston and New York City.

When the “Notice of Funds Availability” applications are available, they will be posted on the VA Web site at www1.va.gov/homeless/ssvf.asp.

Details about the workshops and other information about the program are available on the Internet at www1.va.gov/homeless.

Community organizations can also contact VA at 877/737-0111 or at [email protected]

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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