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.
A friend of mine submitted a claim for a service-related illness over a year ago, and the claim was still being processed when he passed away as the result of the claimed disability. The VA has notified his widow that the processing of the claim was stopped at the time of death and advised her to submit a claim as a widow.
I am confused and do not understand why the claims process was not finished. Please explain the rules when a veteran passes away before final adjudication of a claim.
Via the Internet
According to the law, right or wrong, the processing of a veteran's claim terminates with his death. If he did die as the result of a service-related disability, his widow would be entitled to a widows benefit.
Dear Sgt. Shaft:
I'm trying to help my late best friend's dad, a WWII Navy veteran, find his good friend who he last saw when they both came back from WWII. My friend, a Marine, was killed in Vietnam at the age of 20. His dad is 88 years old.
I tried going to the various military sites without success. Is there one good Internet site to check out or a couple sites that you would recommend, or someplace that I could contact to help my friend's dad to find his long-lost buddy? Thank you.
In a letter to his House colleagues, Rep. Bill Shuster, Pennsylvania Republican, stated, "I have introduced legislation HR 2062 that will designate the facility of the United States Postal Service, located in Newville, Pa., as the 'Randall D. Shughart Post Office Building,' in honor of the native Pennsylvanian and American hero.
"Sgt. First Class Randall D. Shughart distinguished himself by actions above and beyond the call of duty in October 1993 while serving as a Sniper Team Member, United States Army Special Operations Command with Task Force Ranger in Mogadishu, Somalia, and was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.
"Sgt. Shughart's heroic story, which was highlighted in the film 'Black Hawk Down,' illustrates well the Army's value of loyalty, duty and selfless service. His community would like to honor him with the naming of the local post office."
The Sarge salutes Mr. Shuster for initiating this wonderful tribute to Randy. I urge all members of Congress to support this fitting memorial.
As we approach Flag Day, the following sentiment should echo throughout the halls of Congress:
"I am the flag of the United States of America. My name is Old Glory. I fly atop the world's tallest buildings. I stand watch in America's halls of justice. I fly majestically over great institutions of learning. I stand guard with the greatest military power in the world. Look up and see me. I stand for peace ... honor ... truth ... and justice. I stand for freedom. I am confident. I am arrogant. I am proud.
"When I am flown with my fellow banners, my head is a little higher, my colors a little truer. I bow to no one. I am recognized all over the world. I am worshipped, I am saluted, I am loved, I am revered, I am respected and I am feared. I have fought in every battle of every war for more than 200 years ... Gettysburg, Shiloh, Appomattox, San Juan Hill, the trenches of France, the Argonne Forest, Anzio, Rome, the beaches of Normandy, the jungles of Guam, Okinawa, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, in the Persian Gulf and a score of places long forgotten by all but those who were with me. I was there.
"I led my sailors and Marines ... followed them ... I watched over them. They love me. I was on a small hill in Iwo Jima. I was dirty, battle-worn, and I was at ground zero in New York City on September 11th as cowardly fanatics attacked America. I was raised from the ashes of once-proud buildings by brave firefighters, heroes who risked their lives to save others, showing all that America, though bloodied, will never be beaten. Those who would destroy me cannot win, for I am the symbol of freedom, of one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.
"I have been burned, torn and trampled on the streets of countries I have helped set free. It does not hurt, for I am invincible. I have been soiled upon, burned, torn and trampled on the streets of my own country, and when it is by those whom I have served in battle, it hurts. But I shall overcome ... for I am strong. I have slipped the bonds of Earth and stood watch over the uncharted frontiers of space from my vantage point on the moon. I have borne silent witness to all of America's finest hours. But my finest hours are yet to come.
"When I am torn into strips and used as bandages for my wounded comrades on the battlefield, when I am flown at half-mast to honor my sailors, Marines, soldiers and airmen, or when I lie in the trembling arms of a grieving parent at the grave site of their fallen son or daughter, I am proud. My name is Old Glory.
Long may I wave. Dear God, long may I wave."
- Based on My Name is Old Glory by Howard Schnauber, who fought in World War II
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