Dear Sgt Shaft:
I’ve heard from a veteran friend here in North Carolina that he can get talking prescriptions from the VA hospital. He gets his prescriptions with an special electronic label. They also gave him a free device that reads the electronic labels and speaks the label information out. What a lifesaver.
He didn’t know much more, but suggested I write you. I desperately need something like this. I have had several close-calls lately with my medicines. Do you know if non-veterans can get this type of service? I understand that Wal-Marts in Northern Virginia offer this service to the civilian blind.
Thanks in advance,
The VA has mandated ScripTalk for a decade. The Sarge is happy that several pharmacies are now starting to offer this. A few chain stores have started to provide ScripTalk, but it’s hit or miss. Wal-mart, in particular, is taking good strides to give this service, and we should all applaud them. CVS should begin offering the service soon via mail. The Sarge praises Wal-mart for taking the lead in having members of the blind population be able to purchase safe prescription drugs in Virginia. I hope they expand this service to all Wal-Mart stores.
• The Sarge joins Rep. Jeff Miller, a Florida Republican and chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and Rep. Gus Bilirakis, a Florida Republican and vice chairman, in praising Wal-Mart for its decision to hire 100,000 veterans over the next five years.
Mr. Miller cited the need for a public-private partnership to reduce unemployment among veterans: “I’ve said it many times before, although certain government programs can provide veterans with the tools they need to succeed following military service, the key to putting veterans into lasting, meaningful employment rests with the private sector.
“Sixteen months ago several committee members and I held a roundtable on veterans’ unemployment with leading private sector companies. Wal-Mart was among the first to sign a pledge to do its part in putting America’s veterans back to work. With today’s announcement, Wal-Mart is taking the first step to match its pledge with concrete action. I commend Wal-Mart’s leadership for this bold step forward.”
Mr. Miller also pointed out that despite the reduction in the veterans’ overall unemployment rate over the past few months, too many recently discharged veterans are still having a hard time finding a good job.
“I hope every service member leaving the military will make use of every opportunity to prepare themselves for civilian life, whether as a student or as a member of the workforce. Thorough preparation, beginning with the Transition Assistance Program, better known as TAP, means that companies like Wal-Mart will find it easier to hire our veterans because they will be job-ready,” Mr. Miller said.
“This is a great example of a private sector initiative to help our veterans get back to work. As our nation’s heroes make the transition to civilian life, every effort to help them find employment within their communities is to be commended,” Mr. Bilirakis said. “Congress will continue to work to foster a climate for economic growth, so our economy can continue to create jobs and strengthen the private sector.”
• The Sarge also joins Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki who released the following statement on the passing of Former Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Gordon H. Mansfield:
“Secretary Gordon H. Mansfield dedicated his life to advocating on behalf of veterans. He leaves behind a towering legacy of service to veterans, VA, and the nation.
“Combat commander, recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross, and role model to disabled veterans young and old, especially those who served in the Republic of Vietnam, Secretary Mansfield triumphed over debilitating combat wounds to earn the respect and admiration of veterans of every generation through his years of devotion to Paralyzed Veterans of America, the Wounded Warrior Project, and to VA.
“As VA’s Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer from January 22, 2004, to January 20, 2009, and as Acting Secretary from October 1, 2007, to December 20, 2007, Secretary Mansfield was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the nation’s second-largest federal agency. He was instrumental in establishing VA’s nursing academy and personally oversaw the largest IT reorganization within the federal government and VA’s multibillion-dollar construction program, including the initial planning for VA’s state-of-the art medical center in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
“On behalf of America’s 22 million veterans, I salute the memory of a brave man, a great patriot, a devoted public servant, and a tireless advocate for all veterans. I extend my deepest personal condolences to the entire Mansfield family.”
• On Wednesday, March 6, former NFL star kicker Matt Stover will serve as the Master of Ceremonies to thank the corpsmen, medics and pararescuemen of the U.S. military at the annual Armed Services YMCA Annual Angels of the Battlefield Gala at the Ronald Reagan Building. The event highlights the individual men and women on the frontlines who are saving lives and demonstrated extraordinary courage.
The Armed Services YMCA works with the military services to select outstanding corpsmen, medics and pararescuemen from the Army, Army Reserve, Navy, Navy Reserve, Air Force, Air Force Reserve, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Air National Guard and Army Guard, who accepted the awards on behalf of their fellow corpsmen and medics for their dedication and commitment to service.
The Armed Services YMCA of the USA makes military life easier, and remains a fiscally responsible, top 10 military charity, as rated by charitywatch.org. The Armed Services YMCA has 16 branches and 45 affiliates that provide free programs like Operation Kid Comfort, a free photo quilt program for children of deployed, programs for spouses, active-duty, wounded warriors, and military children to help them stress less and connect more. To learn more, please visit www.asymca.org.
• 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
In addition to writing the column, John Fales is President of the Blinded American Veterans Foundation. 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.