August 25, 2015

Sgt. Shaft caricatureDear Sgt Shaft
I understand that there is a program initiative for wounded warriors and their families. Do you have any formation on this?

Via the internetDear RW

Dear RW
The Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) and Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) are cosponsoring the 9th Warrior-Family Symposium here in D.C. on Sept. 9

For those who may not have received the latest news release on the WFS it said,” We invite you to join us. I realize some of you are out the immediate D.C. metro area, but thought you would like to hear about this important event and the issues addressed for future stories. Please let me know if I can connect you to any of our panelists.

NOTE: Army Chief of Staff, Gen Odierno covered a wide range of topics during his final presser last week. You may find his final question from Barbara Starr, CNN, to be interesting and relevant for our WFS.  Starr asked him about long term care for our wounded.  Gen Odierno addressed caregivers, easing restrictions on private enterprise to collaborate more with DOD and VA, taking care of senior leaders officers and NCOs, and staying connected to Gold star families.

Shaft Notes
The John A. Biedrzycki Jr., national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) added his official signature to the new congressional charter of its Auxiliary organization in a historical event solidifying the VFW’s commitment to membership equality for all military families.

Watch the charter presentation ceremony on Youtube.

The former Ladies Auxiliary VFW, founded in 1914, is the VFW’s highly regarded support organization and is considered its “Partner in Service.”

Under its former name Ladies Auxiliary VFW, membership within the organization was offered exclusively to female spouses and family members of any member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The gender-specific eligibility requirement remained for more than 100 years until July 20, 2015, when delegates to the VFW’s 116th National Convention in Pittsburgh voted to amend the dated by-law to extend the same membership opportunity to eligible males.

Appropriately, the Ladies Auxiliary VFW has changed its official name to the VFW Auxiliary.

“It’s an exciting time to be a member of the Auxiliary,” said National President Francisca Guilford. “Women comprise nearly twenty percent of our nation’s military, and this change allows all spouses, fathers, grandfathers, sons, grandsons and brothers to serve others in honor of their veteran.”

Currently, the Auxiliary has more than 465,000 members, a number that is now expected to sharply increase over the next year. Its members represent all 50 states, the District of Columbia, several foreign locations including Germany, Guam and Panama, and have made an impact in local communities around the globe.

Last year alone, its members worked to provide $4.6 million dollars in monetary aid to veterans, active duty military and their families, and volunteered nearly 800,000 hours in VA Medical Centers, hospitals, nursing and veterans’ homes. Auxiliary members also contributed greatly to cancer research, youth activities, civic patriotism and much more.

For more information about the VFW Auxiliary, please visit

Sgt. Shaft Kudos badgeKudos to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on its announcement that it has revised its regulation regarding the presence of animals on VA property. The updated regulation will ensure VA practices remain consistent with applicable federal law. It will also assist individuals entering VA facilities in developing a clear and consistent understanding of the criteria governing facility access for service animals.

“As I have traveled to VA facilities throughout the country, I have heard from many Veterans about what a vital role their service animals play in their lives,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald. “The revised regulation will ensure Veterans and employees have clear guidance regarding the presence of service animals in our facilities. VA remains committed to ensuring America’s Veterans have access to the health care benefits for which they are eligible.”

Under the revised regulation, only dogs that are individually trained to perform work or tasks on behalf of an individual with a disability will be considered service animals.  Other animals will not be permitted in VA facilities, unless expressly allowed as an exception under the regulation for activities such as animal-assisted therapy or for other reasons such as law enforcement purposes. The regulation further confirms that service animals may access VA property subject to the same terms that govern the admission of the public to VA property, and may be restricted from certain areas on VA properties to ensure that patient care, patient safety, and infection control standards are not compromised.

In accordance with required practices, the revised regulation was published in the Federal Register in November 2014, to obtain feedback from Veterans, advocacy organizations and other stakeholders.

Over the next thirty days, VA will provide training to frontline employees and ensure policies at all facilities are consistent with the new regulation.

Long before there was an organized retail system specifically charged with supporting America’s military, there were sutlers – bands of peddlers who followed the Army and sold provisions.

After the Civil War, Congress found the sutler system to be an ineffective means of serving Soldiers. On July 25, 1895, the War Department intervened and issued General Order Number 46 directing post commanders to establish an exchange at every post practicable.

For the next 46 years, exchanges were independent operations before the Army Exchange Service was formally established in 1941. Six years later, the Air Force was born and, in 1948, AES became the Army & Air Force Exchange Service.

As the Army & Air Force Exchange Service and its predecessors mark their 120th anniversary on July 25, the organization’s mission remains basically the same: go where Soldiers, Airmen and their families go to improve their quality of life.


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