- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

I attended ROTC boot camp in the summer of 1958 at Corps of Engineers, Fort Belvoir, Va. I sustained tinnitus and hearing injury at the M1 rifle range. I reported that to the VA at the time and they turned down my claim because my training “… is not considered as service in the armed forces.”

I also applied afterwards for transfer from the Corps of Engineers to the Chemical Corps using my doctor’s advice to refrain from explosive noises that could be experienced in combat situations. I served active duty in the Chemical Corps from 1966-1968.

I just reapplied to the VA and they said again “… there is no evidence that you served on active duty during this time, nor was a line of duty for your tinnitus and hearing loss submitted.”

I have noted your URL saying that “ROTC Summer Camp Can Count as Military Service” (https://www.military.com/opinion/0,15202,144257,00.html).

Can you give me advice on whether or not I can and should proceed on my claim for VA benefits?

Thank you.

Andrew F.
Wilmington, Del.

Dear Andrew:

It counts as service time for military retirement and completion of an enlistment contract. However, according to the VA handbook, it does not count toward the 24 months active duty required for veteran status.

Shaft notes

The Sarge joins the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) in welcoming a new White House initiative that will help service members and veterans get civilian credentials and licenses needed to find work in manufacturing and other high-skills jobs.

This initiative will provide opportunities for up to 126,000 service members and veterans to gain industry-recognized, nationally portable certifications for high-demand manufacturing jobs, according to a White House announcement.

“Veterans have the training, discipline and work ethic employers want and need,” said DAV National Commander Donald L. Samuels. “And while veterans often have the expertise and experience that could qualify them for in-demand jobs, they often miss out on the chance to quickly move into good jobs because they typically must undergo lengthy and expensive retraining in order to meet civilian licensure and certification requirements, often for the same type of jobs they held in the military. This initiative is aimed squarely at easing their transition to the civilian workforce by closing the gap between military training and those requirements.”

Among the key components of this initiative is the Department of Defense’s Military Credentialing and Licensing Task Force, which will focus on industries that need more skilled workers and identify military specialties that readily transfer to those jobs, according to the White House. The task force also will work with civilian credentialing and licensing associations to close the gap between military training programs and those requirements and give service members greater access to necessary certification and licensing exams.

As a veteran with firsthand experience in VA educational benefits, the Sarge is pleased to note that this month marks the 25th anniversary of the Montgomery GI Bill. Named after former House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman, G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery, the Montgomery GI Bill was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on June 1, 1987, and continues to serve today’s veterans and service members. The Montgomery GI Bill was a successor to the original GI Bill, which put hundreds of thousands of World War II veterans through college upon their return home.

To mark the anniversary, the members of the 112th Congress’ Committee on Veterans’ Affairs have issued the following tribute:

* “The Montgomery GI Bill was emblematic of the nation meeting its obligation to those who serve in uniform. Countless veterans were able to use this benefit to get the education and tools that enabled them to become valuable members of our society. America is strengthened by the contributions of our veterans, and our veterans were strengthened by the Montgomery GI Bill.” — Rep. Jeff Miller, Florida Republican and chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

* “The Montgomery GI Bill is a great American success story. After the Second World War, the GI Bill was critical to our nation’s prosperity and the rise of the middle class. The Montgomery GI Bill and its successors continue to allow Americans to thank our defenders by helping them transition into a new field following their service to our country.” — Rep. Doug Lamborn, Colorado Republican.

* “Sonny Montgomery was the chairman of the Veterans’ Committee when I joined Congress in 1993. He was a man who served the veterans and worked to make sure the compact this nation made with their soldiers was not forgotten. The GI Bill that bears his name made sure that all veterans were able to use their benefits for education. I was pleased to support a successor of his GI Bill [Post-9/11 GI Bill] that expanded educational benefits to cover more expenses, provide a living allowance, money for books and the ability to transfer unused educational benefits to spouses or children.” — Rep. Phil Roe, Tennessee Republican, and Rep. Mike Michaud, Maine Democrat.

* “On Memorial Day, we paid tribute to the brave service members who have fought and died for our country. Today, we mark the anniversary of the Montgomery GI Bill, one of the important ways that we honor the service of our men and women in uniform. Nearly 2.6 million veterans have used their much deserved Montgomery GI Bill benefits to earn an education and make the transition to civilian life. I’m immeasurably proud of our troops and I’m proud of our commitment to their service.” — Rep. Marlin Stutzman, Indiana Republican.

* “As a 26-year veteran of the United States Air Force who earned my college degree with the help of the GI Bill, I know firsthand how important this opportunity is to our veterans who have so bravely served America.” Rep. Bill Johnson, Ohio Republican.

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 [email protected].

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