- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dear Sgt Shaft:

My ex-husband was exposed to Agent Orange. Being married to him for 17 years, is it possible that I could acquire Agent Orange side effects?

Via the Internet

Dear J.M.:

My understanding is that direct exposure is required and to my knowledge no such links have been established. You could inquire with your medical doctor if you have any doubt.

Shaft notes

• The Sarge is once again looking forward to joining the gang of 30, Mac’s Marines, for the celebration of the 236th birthday of the Marine Corps at the “Glory to the Corps” luncheon on Friday, Nov. 4, at 11 a.m. at Crawford Hall, Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C.

The guests of honor this year will be:

* General James F. Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps;
* Brigadier General Steven R. Rudder, Legislative Assistant to the Commandant;
* General James L. Jones, 32d Commandant of the Marine Corps.

For more information, contact: Mike Shupp at 202/306-7519 or MShupp@VSADC.com; or Aretha Wright at 202/302-6708 or AWright@VSADC.com.

As usual, this event will begin with the following invocation:

“O Lord, we have long known that prayer should include confession. Therefore, on behalf of the Marines and their guests here gathered, I confess their sins: Lord, they’re just not in step with today’s society.

“They are unreasonable in clinging to old-fashioned ideas like patriotism, duty, honor and country. They hold radical ideas like believing that they are their brother’s keeper and responsible for the Marine on their flank. They have been standing when colors pass, singing the national anthem at ballgames and drinking toasts to fallen comrades.

“Not only that, they have been observed standing tall, taking charge and wearing their hair unfashionably short. They have taken John Kennedy’s words too seriously and are overly concerned with what they can do for their country, instead of what this country can do for them.

“They take the Pledge of Allegiance to heart and believe that the oath is to be honored. Forgive them, Lord, for being stubborn men and women who hold fast to such old-fashioned values. After all, what can you expect? They’re Marines.

“O Lord our God, bless our misguided ideals, continue to raise up in this nation strong leaders and deliver us from ‘me-first’ managers and ‘don’t ask me’ followers.

“Be our honored guest this day. Let it be a day of laughter, good food, good drink, and the telling of tall tales and legends that far exceed the truth.

“Watch over and keep safe those who wear this nation’s uniform with special attention to their families everywhere.

“Now through this day and all the days ahead, God bless this great Nation and God bless the Corps.”

• The top three leaders of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. concluded a full week in the nation’s capital Tuesday with a political and military affairs briefing at the State Department, a “way ahead” briefing by Army Maj. Gen. Stephen Tom, commander of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, and a visit with wounded troops recuperating at the new Walter Reed National Medical Center in nearby Bethesda, Md.

VFW Commander-in-Chief Richard DeNoyer of Massachusetts, Senior Vice Cmdr. John Hamilton of Florida, and Junior Vice Cmdr. Bill Thien of Indiana, were in Washington to immerse themselves with the legislative advocacy and veterans service work conducted by the VFW Washington Office, as well as to meet senior military and administration officials.

The schedule followed earlier meetings by the VFW national commander with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and other senior VA officials on current issues and challenges regarding their department’s service to America’s disabled veterans’ populations from all generations.

National security issues were discussed with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Army Secretary John McHugh and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler, Air Force Secretary Mike Donley and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Roy, and the senior enlisted advisor of Reserve Affairs, Command Sgt. Maj. John Gipe. Update briefings were also provided by the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office and the Army Family Readiness Group to Cmdr. Hamilton and Cmdr. Thien.

“The Washington office complements the direct troop support activities of the national headquarters by helping to create and protect programs and services that impact the quality of life of our nation’s military and veterans’ communities, plus they help almost 100,000 veterans annually to recoup more than $1.4 billion in earned VA compensation and pension,” Cmdr. DeNoyer said.

“The work the national VFW team does is even more important now that the nation’s fiscal problems may eliminate or curtail a number of those hard fought for programs, starting with the cost of health care for military retirees and suggestions to significantly change the military retirement system.”

Threats to the military retirement system and TRICARE are just two of 10 services and programs that the VFW believes Congress or the administration want to reduce or eliminate to help pay for 10 years of war. Click here to read the latest about the “10 for 10” plan, as well as how you can help stop efforts to balance the budget on the backs of veterans, service members and their families.

The House of Representatives passed the Veterans Health Care Facilities Capital Improvement Act of 2011 (H.R. 2646 — as amended), with a vote of 412-3. The Veterans Health Care Facilities Capital Improvement Act of 2011 ensures funding for VA hospital construction projects and medical facility leases in FY2012, as well as extends special at-need programs for homeless veterans, which are set to expire at the end of this fiscal year, Sept. 30, 2011.

“The extension of these programs will provide comprehensive supportive services to help homeless and at-risk veterans find permanent housing, overcome substance use and other issues, gain meaningful employment, and put them on the path to being productive, successful members of our society,” said Rep. Bill Johnson, chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

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 email sgtshaft@bavf.org.

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