Vietnam vet needs help with mesothelioma case

Dear Sgt. Shaft,

I am an Investigator and our office represents Billy Parrott, a retired Navy Veteran. Sadly, Mr., Parrott has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer only caused from exposure to asbestos. I found an article online, which discussed a letter to you in regards to the USS Weiss APD 135 signed by "Lamar A." Lamar states that he was aboard the USS Weiss the same time as Billy Parrott. Do you have a way to put me in touch with Mr. Lamar A? Are you aware of any other shipmates from this vessel? I would appreciate any assistance you may be able to provide. Thank you in advance for your time and kind assistance.

Regards,
Jennifer M.
Legal Investigator

Dear Jennifer,

As I have written in a previous column, which dealt with a veteran who served on the USS Weiss APD 135 and felt that it should be on the list also he stated that, it was the only class of ship with that designation at the time and could have been easily overlooked.:

" I served on the USS Weiss APD 135 from around May 1962 until June 1966. The ship did support missions inland and did transit the Saigon River etc. I earned the Vietnam ribbon with two bronze stars (3 tours) and the Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Oak Leaf. We did support the UDT and Marine RECON—among other missions. I don't remember a whole lot, but I do remember being involved in several missions plus firing our 5 inch gun and being close enough to land that we had to stay off the main deck due to the possibility of small arms fire. Also a friend of mine that served on the USS Weiss at the time was diagnosed with Agent Orange related disabilities . After reading your article, I was really expecting to see my ship on the list. Is there any way that this can be followed up on? I feel sure the USS Weiss should be on the list."

Shaft Notes

• Since Feb. 3, more than 1,600 veterans have taken advantage of an American Legion online survey for those suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The survey is part of the Legion’s continuing research on the two mental-health issues that, together, affect more than a half-million veterans. In 2010, the Legion created a committee to study treatments used for TBI and PTSD by the private sector, the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

"We’re asking veterans to participate in this survey so The American Legion can make more informed recommendations to VA and DoD on how to improve their health care for these conditions," said Daniel M. Dellinger, the Legion’s national commander.

In some of the Legion survey’s questions, respondents are asked whether their health-care providers have been receptive to using complementary and alternative treatments for TBI and PTSD. Respondents are also asked about any side effects from their treatment and – if they chose to stop receiving it – why they did so.

• For the fifth consecutive time, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Cemetery Administration (NCA) has bested the nation’s top corporations and other federal agencies in a prestigious, independent survey of customer satisfaction.

"Once again, this survey shows that employees at VA’s 131 national cemeteries are committed to providing world-class customer service for our Nation’s Veterans and their families," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "It is an honor to care for our Nation’s heroes in perpetuity, and we use the highest of standards of compassion and professionalism to ensure we commemorate their service to our nation."

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) is the only national, cross-industry measure of satisfaction with the quality of goods and services available in the United States. Beginning in 1999, the federal government selected ACSI to measure citizen satisfaction. Information on ACSI can be found at http://www.theacsi.org/the-american-customer-satisfaction-index.

Citing the NCA’s record-setting ACSI results, the independent Federal Consulting Group noted the satisfaction scores as the "highest to date for any organization in the public or private sector." The driving factors for continued customer satisfaction include cemetery service and customer service.

More than 100 federal agencies have used the ACSI to gauge consumer satisfaction with more than 200 services and programs. The Index was founded at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business and the survey is produced by ACSI, LLC.

The ACSI survey polled the next-of-kin or other people who had arranged for the interment of a loved one in a VA national cemetery six months to one year prior to the survey commencement. Surveys were sent to 2,500 people, 494 responded, a high response rate for a mail survey.

Using methodologies developed at the National Quality Research Center of the University of Michigan Business School, NCA received ratings in the categories of "customer service" and "user trust" of 96 out of a possible 100 points, indicating respondents are exceptionally pleased with their experience at national cemeteries and willing to recommend their services to others.

Veterans with a discharge issued under conditions other than dishonorable, their spouses and eligible dependent children can be buried in a VA national cemetery. Also eligible are military personnel who die on active duty, their spouses and eligible dependents.

Other burial benefits available for all eligible Veterans, regardless of whether they are buried in a national cemetery or a private cemetery, include a burial flag, a Presidential Memorial Certificate and a government headstone or marker. Families of eligible Veterans may also order a memorial headstone or marker when remains are not available for interment.

Information on VA burial benefits can be obtained from national cemetery offices, from the Internet at www.cem.va.gov or by calling VA regional offices toll-free at 800-827-1000. To make burial arrangements at the time of need at any VA national cemetery, call the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 800-535-1117.

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.