- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

Can you please help me determine if the dog tags I have are my grandfather’s from World War II in the Navy, or my father’s from Vietnam in the Army? Both men had the same name. The tags are more rectangular and notched. My other grandfather who was in the Navy in World War II has oval dog tags. This is how they are line by line.

245 88 83

Either way, I will cherish them, but I’d like to know. Thanks.

Amy M.
Via the Internet

Dear Amy:

My sources can’t say for sure, but they tell me that it’s more likely that the notched tags are the World War II vintage, as they were issued by the Army from World War II until 1970. The Navy did have oval tags but adapted the same rectangular shape as the other services after WWII.

A surefire way to confirm is to run the serial number to ground. If both service members are deceased and no records are available, you can write to the National Personnel Records Center for a copy of the service records of your kin. Instructions about how to do this can be found here: https://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/. Like you, I am proud of their service.

Shaft notes

• U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, announced that a bill to provide a Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) of 1.7 percent for America’s veterans has passed the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent. Ms. Murray fought hard for COLA passage, after an unnamed Senate Republican blocked the traditionally non-controversial bill in late September. The veterans COLA will affect several important benefits, including veterans’ disability compensation and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children. It is projected that more than 3.9 million veterans and survivors will receive compensation benefits in Fiscal Year 2013.

“A cost-of-living increase for our veterans is well deserved,” Ms. Murray said. “Particularly in this difficult economy, our veterans deserve a boost in their benefits to help make ends meet. I am so glad we were finally able to move forward with passage of this bill. Caring for our nation’s veterans should never be a partisan issue.”

The COLA is designed to offset inflation and other factors that lead to the rising cost of living over time. The COLA rate will match the annual increase provided to Social Security recipients and is based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index.

• More than 20 wounded warriors recently converged on CrossFit Rubicon in Vienna, Va., for the first-ever Working Wounded Games. Hosted in conjunction with CrossFit Walter Reed and volunteers from other metro area CrossFit affiliates, the Working Wounded Games allowed veterans with combat-related disabilities to compete in an open-style competition that will benefit two new wounded warrior charities. The VFW was proud to serve as an inaugural sponsor for the event, which coincided with the 237th birthday of the Marine Corps and Veterans Day.

“I know first-hand the physical challenges our heroes face when they return home,” said VFW National Commander John E. Hamilton, a triple Purple Heart recipient from Vietnam. “The VFW is proud to support the games and the wounded athletes competing this Saturday and the new programs that will help wounded warriors discover new ways to stay fit, while reclaiming their independence and a sense of accomplishment.”

The Working Wounded Games kicked off at 8 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, and was open to the public. There was no cost to attend, but $5 donations were greatly appreciated. Proceeds from the event benefited Team Racing 4 Veterans and Boulder Crest Retreat for Wounded Veterans.

Team R4V is a nonprofit that seeks to support and empower veterans throughout the rehabilitation process by offering personal training assistance, financial assistance for gym memberships and competition entrance fees. Boulder Crest Retreat is an expansive facility currently under construction in Bluemont, Va., which plans to offer a first-class rural sanctuary for veterans and their loved ones to enjoy free of charge.

VFW Washington Office staff were on hand at CrossFit Rubicon to answer questions about the advocacy and support services available to veterans through the VFW.

Visit the VFW website to learn more about how the VFW can help you navigate the VA claims process, sign up to receive the Washington Weekly eNewsletter, and enter for a chance to win a VFW “No One Does More For Veterans” T-shirt.

In 2010, several CrossFit coaches from the Washington Metro Area who also served in the U.S. military came up with the unique idea to offer free CrossFit workouts to wounded warriors recuperating at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Over the past two years, the program has developed into an official CrossFit affiliate, CrossFit Walter Reed, with a dedicated facility at the new National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

Though dozens of wounded warriors have rediscovered their passion for physical fitness and personal accomplishment through CrossFit Walter Reed, many must find an affiliate back home once they transition off of active duty. This is where Team R4V hopes to make a difference by allowing wounded veterans to continue their training regimen at a local CrossFit affiliate.

CrossFit is a fitness philosophy designed to build strength, endurance and mobility through a regimen of constantly varied, functional movements performed at high intensity. CrossFit gyms usually foster cohesion among members who perform the “Workout of the Day,” or WOD, together in an effort to push one another to reach fitness goals.

The intensity of WODs and camaraderie among CrossFit athletes has drawn many service members and veterans to CrossFit gyms from coast to coast. Although WODs are intense, they are also infinitely scalable to the skill level of individual participants, making CrossFit an ideal fitness regimen for wounded warriors regardless of the injuries they have sustained.

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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