August 26, 2014

Sgt. Shaft caricatureDear Sgt. Shaft,
My name is John Jurkiewicz. I am an event coordinator for Kapco, Inc. in Grafton, WI.

I had the privilege of volunteering this summer for a great program — Camp Hometown Heroes, a week-long summer grief camp for children who have lost a parent or older sibling through service in the US Military. We provided friendship and healing for 105 grieving children, many of whom have never had a safe place to express their grief. Unfortunately, so many children applied for our camp that we had to institute a waiting list — a list of campers who need our help that is growing as we speak.

In order to eliminate this waiting list, and to continue providing our services, we started a crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo.com last month, and we are trying to get the word out about our efforts. Our program is life-changing and we need funding to continue. We know that donors are out there — a crowd funding campaign to make potato salad recently raised over $50,000; our cause is much more important than this, and we need your help to bring in donations. To that end, we were wondering if you would be willing to send out the following message via Facebook, Twitter or email to help us out? We would really appreciate it.

Do people really care more about potato salad than kids of fallen US heroes? Let’s fix this. http://goo.gl/5f4nhX

On behalf of the children we serve, I sincerely thank you for your consideration. If you would like to learn more about our efforts, please visit www.hometownheroes.org.

Sincerely,
John Jurkiewicz
Event and Philanthropy Coordinator

Dear John,
What a wonderful way to say thank you for your sacrifice to the loved ones of the fallen heroes.

Shaft Notes
 Congratulations to my friend, General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., who is soon to be sworn as the next Commandant of the United States Marine Corps. A native of Boston, Massachusetts, he graduated from St. Michael’s College and was commissioned in 1977. He previously served as the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps from October 2010 to December 2012. General Dunford has served as an infantry officer at all levels. He commanded the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, he commanded the 5th Marine Regiment. Joint assignments include service as the Executive Assistant to the Vice Chairman, JCS and Chief, Global and Multilateral Affairs Division (J5).

As a general officer, he has also served as the Assistant Division Commander, 1st Marine Division, Marine Corps Director of Operations, Vice Director for Operations on the Joint Staff, and the Marine Corps Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies and Operations. He commanded I Marine Expeditionary Force and served as the Commander, Marine Forces U.S. Central Command.

General Dunford is a graduate of the U.S. Army Ranger School, Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare School, and the U.S. Army War College. He holds an M.A. in Government from Georgetown University and an M.A. in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently announced that it has launched a new campaign to educate Veterans about identity theft prevention. The new campaign, titled More Than a Number, references the personally identifiable information that VA encourages Veterans to protect.

“We recognize that for Veterans, as for all Americans in the digital age, identity theft is a growing concern,” said Steph Warren, VA’s Chief Information Officer. “Our goal is to help educate and protect those who have protected this great country.”

VA’s Office of Information and Technology recently announced the launch of a new website containing identity theft resources for Veterans and their beneficiaries. The website can be found at www.va.gov/identitytheft and features educational information, interactive multimedia and links to other online identity theft prevention resources. The campaign also includes a toll-free help line offering support for Veterans, their beneficiaries and VA employees who have questions and concerns about identity theft. The toll-free number is 1-855-578-5492, and it will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., EST.

In defending against identity theft, VA understands that awareness is critical. With More Than a Number, VA aims to educate Veterans on the risk of identity theft and how to avoid becoming a victim.

“Small changes can have big consequences,” Warren added. “Little things like shredding banking statements before throwing them away or using strong and unique passwords for all of your accounts can make a significant difference in protecting your identity from thieves who may try to use your personal information.”

VA takes seriously its obligation to properly safeguard any personal information within its possession and has in place a strong multi-layered defense to combat evolving cyber security threats. VA is committed to protecting Veteran information, continuing its efforts to strengthen information security and putting in place the technology and processes to ensure that Veteran data at VA is secure.

In the event of a loss of VA data, VA has safeguards in place to protect against identity fraud. Acting out of an abundance of caution, VA’s standard practice is to provide free credit protection service enrollment, monitoring services and reports, fraudulent charge alerts, and fraud resolution and identity theft insurance to individuals affected by a VA data breach with a reasonable risk for the potential misuse of any sensitive personal information.

For additional information on identity theft, visit www.va.gov/identitytheft or contact the VA Identity Safety Service atvaidtheft@va.gov.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald announced the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has initiated an independent, nation-wide review of all scheduling practices at VA medical facilities. In his first trip as Secretary, McDonald also announced a series of additional actions to improve veterans’ access to timely, quality health care following a series of meetings with veterans and employees at the Phoenix VA Health Care System (VAHCS).

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