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 was medically retired from the service with 16 years and 10 months of service. My disability, rated at 100 percent by both the military and the VA, is not combat-related but is service-connected. I receive full compensation from the VA, which offsets my retired pay dollar for dollar. The previous concurrent receipt legislation did not change my status because I was retired from the service with less than 20 years of service. (I'd like to have made it to 20 years plus.)
Would passing and signing the current concurrent receipt legislation into law restore full pay to me? Any help/direction is appreciated. Semper fi.
Via the Internet
None of the current bills would affect you. The only bill now offered that would provide any relief for disabled retirees with less than 20 years of service is H.R. 1366 by Rep. Michael Bilirakis, Florida Republican, which would cover such members with combat- or operations-related disabilities.
The Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) recently testified to the Veterans Affairs disability commission that, although it supports this legislation as an interim step, it thinks the same rules should apply to all Chapter 61 retirees who were prevented from serving 20 or more years solely because they incurred a disability that forced them into medical retirement.
In such cases, MOAA thinks they should be entitled to receive a prorated share of the retired pay they earned by their service -- equal to 2.5 percent of the applicable pay base times their years of service. In your case, the entitlement would be to 0.025 x 16.8 years of service, which be 42 percent of your applicable basic pay. Any retired pay above that amount would be considered disability pay and would be subject to offset for any VA disability compensation. This is the same calculation that applies now to Chapter 61 retirees who have more than 20 years of service.
The Sarge is looking forward to joining the Blinded American Veterans Foundation (BAVF), Rep. Michael Bilirakis, Florida Republican, and their guests at the 20th annual congressional awards reception from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. tomorrow in Room 334 of the Cannon House Office Building.
The event, held in conjunction with the foundation's Flag Day observance, honors members of Congress, the press and volunteers.
The recipients of the 2005 George "Buck" Gillispie Congressional Award for Meritorious Service are Rep. Rob Simmons, Connecticut Republican, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat. The award is named in honor of the late "Buck" Gillispie, a blinded World War II veteran who devoted more than 40 years of service toward efforts to aid in rehabilitation of visually impaired veterans.
The Carlton Sherwood Media Award, named in honor of the Pulitzer and Peabody Award-winning journalist and highly decorated Marine Corps Vietnam veteran, will be presented to Bob Madigan, WTOP-AM Radio's "Man About Town," and Greg Pierce, Inside Politics columnist for The Washington Times.
This year's recipients of the George Alexander Memorial Award for Volunteer Service are Stephen Miyagawa and Jim "The Milkshake Man" Mayer.
A joint armed forces color guard will set the stage for the awards ceremony and the Marine Corps' Brass Quintet will entertain guests with a medley of patriotic music. For more information, call the BAVF at 202/462-4430.
Congratulations to En-Vision America Inc. for receiving Patent No. 6,877,658 from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The system covered by this patent gives those with vision impairments or other reading challenges the ability to scan medication labels and get the medication information spoken or displayed in large print.
"This patent is very important to our company. There are so many people that have difficulty reading or understanding their medication labels," said David Raistrick, vice president of En-Vision America. "This technology will allow pharmacies to disseminate information in different ways and let devices help make people safer while maintaining privacy and independence over their medications."
The ScripTalk System, which was introduced in 2001, places a radio frequency identification label on prescriptions. Using a hand-held reader, the patient can listen to the information stored on the microchip. The voice device conveys label information such as: drug name, dosage, instructions, warnings, number of refills, doctor's name, pharmacy phone and prescription number. The company has had great success providing the ScripTalk System to the Veterans Affairs and Defense departments.
The Sarge salutes Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) for its initiative to raise awareness for Americans who have served our country while providing support for those severely disabled through the purchase of a unique "Support Veterans" wristband.
The wristband showcases a Stars-and-Stripes design and can be purchased through the PVA Web site at www.pva.org for $4 each, which includes the costs of shipping and handling.
For each wristband sold, more than $2 will go directly to Paralyzed Veterans of America, a national nonprofit 501(c)(3) service organization that assists America's paralyzed veterans in such areas as health care, benefits, spinal-cord research and sports and recreation programs.
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