March 31, 2015

Sgt. Shaft caricatureDear Sgt Shaft
We seem to be having difficulty obtaining Scriptalk printers for 3 of our VA pharmacy locations within the Greater Los Angeles area. The lack of this technology in our other facilities creates a problem for our blind vets when they receive prescriptions at these locations. As far as I know, there is one at the main pharmacy distribution center in Los Angeles, but when prescriptions are filled at Sepulveda, Bakersfield or West Los Angeles, Scriptalk is not available. We suspect that this issue is not on the pharmacy priority list when it comes to their budget. Your assistance would be greatly appreciated in moving forward to remedy this issue.

Jim H
VIST Volunteer
Greater Los Angeles

Dear Jim
I am forwarding your missive to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Bob McDonald. I am sure that when the secretary learns that blinded vets in your area do not have access to this essential pharmaceutical tool, which allows them to easily identify their medical information by voice, he will ensure that the Los Angeles medical centers get Scriptalk printers.

Shaft Notes
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is issuing a Notice of Funding Availability for up to $8 million in grants for fiscal year 2015 to provide adaptive sports opportunities for disabled Veterans and disabled members of the Armed Forces throughout fiscal year 2016.

“We encourage non-profit organizations, Veterans’ groups, universities, municipalities and other eligible groups to apply for this funding,” said VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald. “Adaptive sports are more than recreation. Adaptive sports can play an important role in Veterans’ rehabilitation process and help ease the transition from the military to the civilian sector.”

Grants are available to non-federal entities with experience in managing a large-scale adaptive sports program for persons with certain disabilities. The grants call for planning, developing, managing and implementing appropriate adaptive sports activities geared to disabled Veterans and disabled members of the Armed Forces. Adaptive sports are those that have been adapted or created specifically for people with disabilities.

Recipients may use grants for training, program development, coaching, sports equipment, supplies, program evaluation and other activities related to program implementation and operation. The deadline to apply is May 26, 2015.

Applications for the adaptive sports grant program may be found at

In FY 2014, VA awarded $8 million in adaptive sport grants to 65 organizations providing services throughout the United States to approximately 10,000 Veterans and Servicemembers.

sgt_shaft_kudos_smallerKudos to Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) for introducing  the Keith Nolan Air Force Deaf Demonstration Act, which would allow deaf and hard of hearing individuals to serve in the United States Air Force in a demonstration program. Original co-sponsors include Rep. Niki Tsongas, Rep. John Delaney, Rep. Ted Lieu, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen.

Currently, the Department of Defense sets medical standards for enlistment. Within the “hearing” section, there are requirements for hearing levels that would exclude an individual who is deaf.  The section also excludes individuals who currently or historically use a hearing aid, or who have a cochlear implant.

The Keith Nolan Air Force Deaf Demonstration Act would create a demonstration program in the Air Force for 15-20 Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals who would otherwise qualify to serve in the Air Force.

Officer Casey Doane, who grew up in a deaf family and is currently serving as a commissioned Officer in the Air Force, believes hearing impaired Americans are capable of serving.

“It is from my direct experience that I can say it is entirely possible for deaf or hard of hearing Americans to serve in the Air Force,” said Officer Doane. “Obviously, certain accommodations and limitations would have to be made but ultimately no more than for other individuals with unique circumstances who are already serving.  Growing up in a deaf family I was able to see first-hand the adversity that deaf individuals faced every day. But more importantly, I was able to see the determination and perseverance that is necessary to serve as a leader in the Air Force. In fact, I credit my own determination to those experiences.”

“Over the past few decades, our military has given groups who were previously excluded the opportunity to serve,” said Rep. Takano. “It is time for the Armed Forces to do the same for individuals with auditory impairments, as many are fully qualified model cadets. The demonstration program that this legislation would create would allow 15-20 deaf and hard of hearing individuals who would otherwise qualify to serve their country in the Air Force. I’m proud to introduce this legislation and hope that it moves through the House so that millions of deaf and hard of hearing Americans have the opportunity to serve their country.”

The National Association of the Deaf has endorsed the legislation.

The Fleet Reserve Association (FRA) believes that educating our service members, veterans and their families is a matter of critical importance. Each year, FRA’s Education Foundation awards thousands of dollars in scholarships to help students achieve their educational goals. Scholarships are available to all Navy, Marine, and Coast Guard personnel and families, and several more are exclusively available to FRA members, their spouses, and their children and grandchildren.

We want to help the students in your life succeed in their pursuit of a college degree! Please visit the links below to learn more about FRA’s scholarship programs and how to submit an application.

The deadline for applications to our 2015 scholarship program is fast approaching—April 15! Please pass this message along to friends, family members, and others you know who may have eligible family members or be eligible in their own right — especially fellow shipmates who do not use email.

If you have questions about FRA Education Foundation scholarships, please email our scholarship team at scholars@fra.org or call 1-800-FRA-1924.

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