May 12, 2015

Sgt. Shaft caricatureDear Sgt. Shaft,
I would like to ask assistance in obtaining information on the following:

After reading “Federal Benefits for Veterans” Dependents and Survivors – chapter 14 “Military Medals and Records, I proceeded in requesting via completed Standard Form 180 and submitting copies of death certificate, and DD214 on January 12, 2015 to obtain copy of all medals issued to my husband while in the Army.

As surviving spouse, I believe obtaining a copy of all medals issued David R. Wardell – service number 4944986 while in the ARMY is of great value to our family, my son, and myself.

On Aril 8, 2015, I submitted a follow up letter to – National Personnel Records Center, Archives Drive in St. Louis, MO asking for status. As of yet I have neither received a request for additional information, status on application submitted nor copy of medals issued to David R. Wardell.

If you could provide me some direction on how best to resolve this matter, I would be greatly appreciative.

Sincerely,
Margaret W
Via the internet

Dear Margaret
It can be frustrating working with large service orientated bureaucracies. While the National Personnel Records Center labors to complete record requests in 90 days or less, when handling up to 5000 requests per day, it sometimes takes longer. Because your case has been over 90 days, you can call the NPRC Customer Service Line at (314) 801-0800 to ask about the status. Peak call hours for them are between 10:00am and 3:00pm CST. Try calling as they open at 7:00am or closer to closing at 4:00pm.

Shaft Notes
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. To commemorate the month, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is encouraging Veterans, along with their families and friends, to visit and view recovery journey stories on the website, MakeTheConnection.net.

Make the Connection is a national awareness program operated by VA aimed at reducing the negative perceptions and stigma associated with seeking mental health care. Through the Website, Veterans and their loved ones hear from hundreds of other Veterans who may be experiencing similar challenges, learn strategies for support and recovery, along with local resources available through a resource locator.

Since the launch of the Make the Connection campaign in November 2011, there have been more than 7 million visits to the website, and more than 2.8 million people have joined the Facebook community or subscribed to the YouTube channel. The resource locator on the site, with information on VA and community-based treatment services around the country, has been used more than 220,000 times.

“We all have the ability to influence a friend or loved one in a positive way – that’s why Make the Connection was created,” said VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald. “We want Veterans to tell their personal stories of mental health treatment and recovery to as many of their peers as possible. Those stories can be great sources of strength for Veterans in need of hope.”

In addition to the Make the Connection website and Facebook page, information also can be found on YouTube at www.youtube.com/VeteransMTC and Google+ at http://plus.google.com/+VeteransMTC. Information about all VA mental health efforts may be found at www.mentalhealth.va.gov.


The Sarge joins the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) in its support for the swift consideration of the president’s nominations of Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford as the 19th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Air Force Gen. Paul Selva as the 10th vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

With several leading military associations, including MOAA, in attendance, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Dunford and Selva for their new positions during a ceremony at the White House Rose Garden today.

Dunford is currently the commandant of the Marine Corps, a position he has held since 2014 after serving as the commander of International Security Assistance Force, where he led all coalition troops in Afghanistan.

Selva has served as the commander of Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., since May 2014.

“The bedrock of the nation’s security, our professional all-volunteer force, finds itself stressed by continuous and increasing global commitments,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Norb Ryan, president of MOAA. “The budget-driven decisions brought on by sequestration pose a real threat to the readiness of the AVF. Maintaining continuity of leadership of the Joint Staff is essential to leading the military through these complexities and the potentially dramatic reforms to retirement and health care, while retaining the right mid-grade NCOs and officers, to ensure the vitality of the AVF.”

MOAA has strongly recommended that the Senate promptly take up Dunford’s and Selva’s nominations and, if they’re confirmed, the association looks forward to working with them on the complex issues of importance to our membership and to all of the nation’s servicemembers and their family members, veterans, retirees and surviving spouses.


The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is urging the U.S. House of Representatives to approve the National Defense Authorization Act when it comes up for a vote this week.

The $495.9 billion base budget provides additional funding for fighter aircraft, helicopters, ship building and missile defense. It also includes VFW-supported provisions to improve financial literacy training and create a new blended military retirement system, beginning Oct. 1, 2017, that VFW National Commander John W. Stroud says will benefit all who serve in uniform, not just the 17 percent who serve 20 years or longer.

“Aside from hostilities, one of the greatest threats to an All-Volunteer Force is a strong economy that offers other employment options,” said Stroud, who wants the Senate Armed Services Committee to retain the new retirement feature when it begins discussing the fiscal year 2016 defense bill this week. “In order to meet future enlistment and retention goals, the military must be able to compete with a civilian sector that by and large offers some type of contributory retirement program for its employees.”

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