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Sgt. Shaft: Concurrent Receipt, Brown Bags, USERRA
Sgt. Shaft: Ted Williams, New VA Secretary, National Guard Benefits

 

About the Author

Sgt. Shaft was hatched in April of 1982 at the home of the veterans' newspaper, Stars & Stripes, in Washington, D.C. This moniker combines the name of its creator, John Fales, Marine MOS in Vietnam and "Scout Sgt.," with the military expression when wronged, "Shafted."

Sgt. Shaft's wry sense of humor, empathy for the underdog, and strong love of country and fellow veterans closely mirror the nature of its creator. The weekly advice column resided in the Stars & Stripes from 1982 to 1985, and laid dormant until its rebirth in the Washington Times in 1991. The column, Fales is proud to say, gives an outlet for the concerns of active military, veterans, and their families in a national newspaper.

In addition to writing the column, John Fales is President of the Blinded American Veterans Foundation. Fales was born in New York City and served in the U.S. Marine Corps until his retirement on disability. His decorations include Purple Heart, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Service Medal, New York State Conspicuous Service Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Combat Action Ribbon, and South Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. Sgt. Shaft has no twin.


Related Links

Sgt. Shaft : Archives

Veteran Benefits

National Guard Benefits

This week, Sgt. Shaft weighs in on baseball legend and USMC veteran Ted Williams, the new VA secretary, and new Guard benefits.

[Want to sound off on Sgt. Shaft's latest column? Visit the discussion boards.]

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

A recent TV show referred to the remains of the late Ted Williams still being stored upside down and headless at a cryogenic storage facility in Arizona. His son, John Henry, who brought about this ghoulish scenario, is now himself dead.

As a baseball legend and a Marine fighter pilot who fought in both World War II and Korea, losing 4½ years of his major league playing career, Mr. Williams deserves to be rescued from this degrading situation and given a dignified burial with honors. Can't Major League Baseball, the people of Boston and the Marine Corps pool their influence and ensure his dignified burial, or is this American icon destined to remain forgotten?

--John Kujawski,
U.S. Army Vietnam War veteran


Dear Jack:

It is unconscionable that this American hero and baseball superstar is left hanging upside down and headless like a piece of cowhide in a dark deep freezer. I urge the powers that be in Major League Baseball and the U.S. Marine Corps to use their muscle to ensure that the remains of Mr.
Williams be buried with dignity and honor in the sacred grounds of Arlington National Cemetery.

---

Shaft Notes

· The Sarge is looking forward to joining other members of the National Press Club and their guests at a luncheon featuring Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson.

The president said when he announced Mr. Nicholson's nomination to be the secretary of Veterans Affairs:

"Jim Nicholson is a patriot, a man of deep conviction who has answered his country's call many times. As a young man from Iowa, raised in modest circumstances, he became a cadet at West Point in the late 1950s and went on to become an Army ranger and paratrooper. As a ranger, he fought in Vietnam, where he won multiple decorations for bravery in combat, including the Bronze Star and the Combat Infantryman Badge. After eight years on active duty, he joined the Army Reserve, in which he served for 22 more years before retiring as a full colonel.

"Throughout his career, Jim has shown the same honor, integrity and commitment to service that defined his life as a military officer. He and his wife, Suzanne, have given back generously to their community and have been leaders in numerous volunteer causes in their home state of Colorado. He was a respected chairman of the Republican National Committee. And for the past three years, he has served as the United States ambassador to the Vatican."

"Jim has worked with the Vatican to advance many vital foreign-policy goals, including fighting poverty, hunger, AIDS, expanding religious liberty around the world and ending the brutal practice of human trafficking.



"I'm grateful to Jim for his superb work as our ambassador, and I now have asked him to accept a new assignment, to serve his country and his fellow veterans."

The luncheon will be at noon April 20. For more information, call Pat Nelson at 202/662-7500.

· The Sarge salutes the U.S. Postal Service for agreeing to pay the employees' share (in addition to the Postal Service's share) of health insurance premiums for up to 24 months for career USPS employees who are called to active military duty. The change was made in response to a request from the American Postal Workers Union.

The policy took effect March 17 and is retroactive to Dec. 28, 2002. It applies to qualified career employees of the Postal Service activated for military service under Executive Order 12302 or 13223 in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Noble Eagle and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Postal Service will assume the full cost of employees' premiums for the time that they perform qualifying military service only.

·The Sarge also salutes Amvets for their new initiative with the National Guard. As the Guard faces increasing deployments, Amvets has partnered with the National Guard Bureau to help maximize support for the families affected by these deployments.

This agreement, formalized by a Memorandum of Understanding signed by Amvets National Commander William A. Boettcher and National Guard Bureau (NGB) Chief Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, marks the first time the NGB has partnered with a national veterans service organization to expand the Guard's Family Program volunteer network.

"As veterans, we fully appreciate what it means to have support on the home front for our men and women in uniform," Mr. Boettcher said. "It's particularly important for those who serve in the National Guard, where their families often do not live in close proximity to the services normally available to active-duty personnel."

Under the new arrangement, the AMVETS Family Support Network of local posts will work closely with state National Guard Family Program directors and coordinators to ensure that no Guard family "falls between the cracks."

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, P.O. Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax to 301-622-3330; call 202-462-4430 or email sgtshaft@bavf.org.


© 2005 Sgt. Shaft. All rights reserved.

 



 



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