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.
I need your help. I don't have a big problem like those of many of the people you have helped, but I'm engaged in a project that is very important to me, and I'd be extremely grateful for your help.
I'm preparing a "Pantheon of Patriots" memorial of military personnel who are outstanding examples of great leaders, not just because of their military knowledge and accomplishments, but (even more important to me) their character.
They include three generals: Robert E. Lee, Douglas MacArthur and George Patton. What I need is 5-by-7-inch black-and-white photos of these three men, which I've not been able to obtain despite several queries to numerous veterans and government organizations; so I'm turning to you in the hope that you can help me get these photo prints. (I've seen innumerable prints of these pictures in newspapers and magazines, but I've not been able to find a source.)
I want to memorialize and honor such outstanding military leaders in my "Pantheon of Patriots" and will appreciate your help in doing so.
Lt. Col. John McLeod
Air Force, retired
You have the best resources in the nation to help secure photographs of Gens. Lee, MacArthur and Patton. These historical document resources may be available from the U.S. National Archives and Records Center. You can visit the NARA facility (Room 5050) in College Park, Md., where you will have access and support to retrieve the photographs you seek at nominal reproduction costs.
You may also phone 301/837-0539 for information and assistance, or visit NARA on the Internet at www.nara.gov. Hope this helps.
Congratulations to Dr. Jonathan Perlin, who recently was confirmed by the Senate as undersecretary for health of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
In that role, he will serve as chief executive officer of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). He has been the acting undersecretary since April of last year.
Sen. Larry E. Craig, Idaho Republican and chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, said: "Dr. Perlin is an outstanding man. I am pleased that my colleagues saw fit to confirm him to this important position and do so in such a strong way."
Dr. Perlin now is in charge of the nation's largest integrated health system.
The VHA's medical care budget is approximately $30 billion. The agency employs nearly 200,000 health care professionals at more than 1,300 sites, including hospitals, community- and facility-based clinics, nursing homes and more. In addition to its medical care mission, VHA is the nation's largest provider of graduate medical education and a major contributor to medical and scientific research.
Army veterans and their families can have an easier time tracking and receiving medals and decorations thanks to an automated system used by the Clothing and Heraldry Product Support Integration Directorate (PSID). The Web-based system eliminates extensive paperwork, reduces processing time and has capabilities such as allowing each veteran the opportunity to find out the status of his or her request or apply online.
Inquiries that used to be handled on the telephone or by letter can be made online at veteranmedals.army.mil. Award criteria and background for the different service medals can be found on the Web site. Requests for medals are initiated through the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis. Eligible veterans or the next of kin of a deceased veteran can request medals from NPRC at vetrecs.archives.gov.
Also, the Defense Department recently announced the issuance of two new campaign medals recognizing service members for their contributions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Afghanistan Campaign Medal and Iraq Campaign Medal are for military members who directly have supported Operation Enduring Freedom since Oct. 24, 2001, or Operation Iraqi Freedom since March 19, 2003.
The new campaign medals were established by presidential order for service members who have been assigned, attached or mobilized to units operating in these areas. Each military department will serve as the awarding authority for the new campaign medals and issue regulations for processing, awarding and wearing them.
Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, PO Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330; call 202/257-5446; or e-mail