- The Washington Times
Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dear Sgt Shaft:

I have a question regarding my younger brother. He is 33 years old and has been mentally and physically handicapped since birth. My parents adopted him when he was an infant/toddler. My father was retired from the North Carolina National Guard after 30 years of service. He passed away from metastatic colon cancer in 2007. We have been told that my younger brother is eligible for VA benefits. I have called multiple organizations and seem to get nowhere and now don’t know where to turn for a definite answer.

Thank you,

Erin B.
Via the Internet

Dear Erin:

This is a difficult question to answer. If your father were a military retiree, he should have been eligible for Tricare when he retired and turned age 60. If he documented his child’s disability before the child turned 21, then the child should be eligible for Tricare. If that’s the case, then the child should be eligible for Tricare benefits.

If your father had been a disabled vet, then the child could be eligible for the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA). I have asked someone from the Department of Veterans Affairs to contact you concerning your brother’s eligibility.

Shaft notes

• One hundred newly injured veterans from around the country recently gathered in San Diego for the 4th National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic, which ran through Sept. 23. The event was hosted by the San Diego Healthcare System.

The clinic introduces recently injured veterans to adventure sports and recreational activities such as sailing, surfing, kayaking, cycling, and track and field events. The program provides a weeklong journey of exploration and accomplishment in summer sports. The goal is to provide early intervention for veterans battling back from an array of injuries ranging from brain trauma and spinal cord injuries, to neurological problems and loss of limbs.

The clinic is presented by the Department of Veterans Affairs with continued support from Help Hospitalized Veterans and the Veterans Canteen Service.

For more information on how to get involved or if you would like to follow daily clinic video highlights this week, go to www.summersportsclinic.va.go.

• Kudos to the 20 Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers from across the nation that were recognized by The Joint Commission as Top Performers on Key Quality Measures for 2010.

“We at VA are very pleased with the recognition from The Joint Commission. We are proud of the medical centers that made this list, proving VA’s commitment to performance measures, transparency, and accountability,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “This achievement demonstrates our dedication to being the provider of choice for veterans.”

While all 152 VA medical centers are accredited by The Joint Commission, today’s list recognizes medical centers that are top performers based on The Joint Commission’s review of evidence-based care processes that are closely linked to positive patient outcomes. The 405 facilities on the list were identified for attaining and sustaining excellence in accountability measure performance for the full previous year (2010) and represent approximately 14 percent of The Joint Commission-accredited hospitals and critical access hospitals that report core measure performance data.

Based on performance related to 22 accountability measures for heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia and surgical care, The Joint Commission report singles out hospitals in 45 states. The list of top performing hospitals and the measure set or sets for which each hospital was recognized are available online at www.jointcommission.org/topperformers.

“VA health care has been a leader in performance measurement, electronic health records, research and clinical quality for more than a decade,” said Dr. Robert A. Petzel, VA’s under secretary for health. “I am proud of the staff and I fully expect to see more VA medical centers making this list next year.”

The list of VA Medical Centers on the Top Performers on Key Quality Measures for 2010 includes:

* Phoenix VA Health Care System; Phoenix, Ariz.

* VA Loma Linda Health Care System; Loma Linda, Calif.

* VA San Diego Health Care System; San Diego, Calif.

* Atlanta VA Medical Center; Atlanta, Ga.

* Boise VA Medical Center; Boise, Idaho

* Jesse Brown VA Medical Center; Chicago, Ill.

* Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center; North Chicago, Ill.

* Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center; Wichita, Kan.

* Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center; Iron Mountain, Mich.

* Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center; Saginaw, Mich.

v VA Gulf Coast Federal Health Care System; Biloxi, Miss.

* G.V. Sonny Montgomery VA Medical Center; Jackson, Miss.

* VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System; Reno, Nev.

* VA Healthcare Network Upstate New York; Bath, N.Y.

* Fayetteville VA Medical Center; Fayetteville, N.C.

* James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center; Altoona, Pa.

* Erie VA Medical Center; Erie, Pa.

* William Jennings Bryan Dorn VA Medical Center; Columbia, S.C.

* James H. Quillen VA Medical Center; Mountain Home, Tenn.

* William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital; Madison, Wis.

• Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta joined volunteers from KaBOOM!, Northrop Grumman, the Fort Meade Community Covenant Council, and Blue Star Families to build a new playground at Fort Meade’s Burba Park as part of the 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance. The project also involves Operation Honor Cards, a Blue Star Families initiative to encourage Americans to perform service in honor of military families, veterans and service members.

“KaBOOM! is honored to help build a playground that will benefit thousands of children and join Operation Honor Cards to pay tribute to military families,” said KaBOOM! Founder and CEO Darell Hammond. “Every child deserves a great place to play and we made that possible for children at Fort Meade while bringing KaBOOM! one step closer to our vision of a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America.”

Mark D. Smith, executive director of Blue Star Families, said: “We are grateful to KaBOOM! and all of today’s volunteers for this gift to the military children of Fort Meade.”

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, P.O. Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330, call 202/257-5446 or email sgtshaft@bavf.org.

• Sgt. Shaft can be reached at .

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