June 28, 2016

Sgt. Shaft caricatureDear Sgt Shaft
Are you aware of any new developments concerning veteran’s preference?

Len G
Via the internet

Dear Len
The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States has gone on record as being adamantly opposed to a Senate proposal that would restrict veteran’s preference to a one-time deal when applying for work within the federal government.

“Veterans preference was created because military veterans are at a competitive disadvantage when applying for federal jobs,” said VFW National Commander John A. Biedrzycki Jr. “For the Senate to intentionally erect barriers to employment and advancement makes zero sense because it harms veterans and weakens the talent pool available to the federal government.”

Veteran’s preference is a point system that human resource offices use to rack-and-stack job applicants, yet contrary to popular belief, the only preference veterans receive is the job interview, not a job offer. Veterans must still prove they are the best qualified during the job interview. The Senate proposal would restrict the use of veteran’s preference to once.

“Preference is necessary because years of military service don’t always equate in the civilian sector,” said Biedrzycki, “and the same holds true for subsequent uses of veterans preference.

“Four years of military service plus four years of government service will never equal eight years of government service,” he explained. “Even after they are hired, veterans will always be behind their peers who didn’t serve in uniform. That is why veterans preference must be maintained in its current status, and that’s why the VFW adamantly opposes section 1134 of S. 2943, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017,” he said.

“Veterans preference is a hand up, not a handout, for those who honorably serve our nation in uniform.”

Shaft Notes
The House passed three veterans related bills, including:

H.R. 4590, the Fiscal Year 2016 Department of Veterans Affairs Seismic Safety and Construction Authorization Act, as amended, would authorize a number of major medical facility construction projects to improve safety issues at facilities that are at high-risk for earthquakes. It would also require a greater accounting of VA construction expenditures.

H.R. 3936, the VET Act, as amended, would authorize a three-year pilot program for Veteran Engagement Teams, which would allow VA employees to meet one-on-one with veterans to help facilitate the claims process for veteran’s benefits.

These bills now await consideration by the Senate. Following House passage of the bills, Chairman Miller released the below statement.

“I applaud the House’s actions today to improve VA’s claims processing efforts and add additional transparency to the department’s construction operations. These bills would help improve veterans’ experiences while encouraging a more functional and efficient VA, and I urge the Senate to consider them in short order.” – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) will present the 36th National Veterans Wheelchair Games in Salt Lake City, Utah! The National Veterans Wheelchair Games are the largest annual wheelchair sports event in the world.

This is rehabilitation in action, teaching disabled veterans that disability need not be an obstacle to an active life through sports. More than 600 disabled veterans from across the U.S. are registered to participate, including teams from Great Britain and Puerto Rico. Their military service spans from WWII to the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Veterans participating (which include more than 50 female veterans) have disabilities including single to multiple amputations, traumatic brain injury and other head injuries, spinal cord injuries (paraplegic and quadriplegic) and a variety of other medical challenges.

See an amazing array of adaptive sports and medical equipment in action, interview veterans, caregivers, medical personnel and senior VA leaders. Also great photo-ops (including video for your Website). Events include: Wheelchair basketball, quad rugby, 9-ball, power soccer, table tennis, air guns, weightlifting, handcycle, track, swimming, trapshooting and more. This year will also include a triathlon exhibition and a bobsled exhibition.

Veterans will also mentor area disabled children at “Kids Day” where the children will enjoy learning about and participating in adaptive sports activities. This year’s activities will be basketball, slalom and t-ball.

One of the individual stories:


On May 31st Col. Daniel Dudek, collective training chief at I Corps on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his end of tour in Iraq during the summer of 2007 – 9 years after he lost both legs to an improvised explosive device (IED) blast.

Dudek spent three months in Iraq before he was medically evacuated due to his injuries. He chose to have his award ceremony in front of the memorial where the names of fallen Soldiers from the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division are enshrined. On the plaque is the name of one of the Soldiers who was killed by the same IED blast.

Since the loss of his legs, Dudek has strives to “earn it” and honor the fallen. He remains quite active, having participated in the 2012 and 2013 Warrior Games (7 Gold and 1 Silver), the Invictus Games in London and a Seattle to Portland bike ride via hand cycle in 2015, which is a more than a 200-mile trek.

This will be his first year competing at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games, and will likely become quite a mentor to many of the other disabled veterans participating. He will compete in swimming, track, triathlon and cycling.


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