Council to hear veteran tax reform bill

In December 2007, Councilman Mel Rapozo’s proposal to have a yearly tax credit for war veterans was modified and approved as a one-time credit. A reason for the change was that a yearly credit could be approved with the tax reform legislation.

The tax reform bill is with the council. A deadline to pass the bill was extended until at least Sept. 10. The committee as a whole will consider amendments at its next meeting on Sept. 3.

Veterans interested in tax relief are encouraged to contact a council member or testify at the next hearing. As originally proposed, a yearly tax credit would be more beneficial than a veteran home exemption. Although the proposal was for war veterans, an equal or lesser amount could be included for all veterans.

The official veteran numbers used by the Veterans Affairs are from the 2000 census. At that time, there were 120,587 veterans in Hawai‘i, of which 5,688 were living on Kaua‘i. With these numbers, the veterans can have a tremendous impact on legislation. Including family members, the veterans have a large operating base on the island.

This is an election year. The voice of the veteran can be heard. When at the polls, consider voting for individuals who have your interests in mind, especially veterans’ issues.

Veteran social security

There has been renewed interest in social security for veterans who served prior to 2002. The military did not pay social security prior to 1957, but upon retirement, veterans could be credited up to $160 a month in earnings for service between 1940 and Dec. 31, 1956. For years 1957 through 2001, up to $1,200 a year could have been credited.

For years 1957 through 1967, the extra credit should have been added when the individual applied for social security benefits. From 1968, the credits were automatically added to your record.

Bronze Star medals for the WWII veterans

Army regulations allow the awarding of the Bronze Star Medal to infantry men for exemplary conduct in ground combat between Dec. 7, 1941, and Sept. 2, 1945. The meritorious achievement must have been confirmed by documents executed prior to July 1, 1947. For this purpose, an award of the Combat Infantryman’s Badge or Combat Medic’s Badge is considered as a citation.

The award of the medal may also be given to soldiers who participated in the Philippines campaign from Dec. 7, 1941, to May 10, 1942. Soldiers must have been on the island of Luzon or with the Harbor Defenses of Corregidor and Bataan, and their units were awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation.

The medal can be awarded posthumously or as a second award if it was given for a specific event after the award was created after 1944. The family of a deceased veteran may apply for the award.

If an individual meets the criteria and wishes to apply, send a letter to Kathleen E. Miller, Army Human Resources Command, 200 Stoval Street, Suite 3567, Hoffman II, Alexandria, Va. 22332-0474.

National POW/MIA day

The national POW/MIA recognition day is traditionally observed on the third Friday in September. This year, the day will be commemorated on Sept. 19. The theme honors the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific with a photo on the 2008 poster. By law, the black POW/MIA flag can be flown over federal facilities, cemeteries, post offices and military installations on that day.

Reviewing the statistics for the recent wars, the POW/MIA’s were 7,450 for World War I, 154,393 for World War II, 15,317 for the Korean War, 2,583 for the Vietnam War and 49 for the Gulf War.

Amendment of flag code

Those watching the Olympics would have been proud noting that the U.S. Olympians were in compliance with the flag code by placing their right hands over their hearts during the playing of the National Anthem. The flag code was recently amended in a change specifically for veterans.

During ceremonies of hoisting/lowering of the flag or when the flag is passing during a parade or ceremonies, veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute.

Cemetery cleanup

Volunteers are needed to assist in completing projects at the Hanapepe Veterans Center. A labor force is required. Individuals are asked to report at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 13. Lunch will be served. For information, call Soupbone Kashiwabara at 245-2430.

Blue-star banner

The American Legion is rekindling the spirit of pride in our military men and women and is providing banners to families across the nation. The banner is typically displayed in windows by families who have a loved one serving in the armed forces, including the National Guard and Reserves.

The banner has a blue star in the center of a white back ground with a rectangular red border. There can be up to five stars for each family member serving in the armed forces. For more information, contact the state’s legion commander, Dan Cordes, at 332-7189.

Meet a veteran

The featured veteran, Charlene Dorsey, comes to the Garden Island from Chicago, Ill. Dorsey was elected as the adjutant secretary for the Veterans Council and assumed her duties on July 1. She is a graduate of John Marshall High School in Chicago with an associate’s degree from Leeward Community College on O‘ahu.

Dorsey entered the Army in 1961 and was an illustrator and then a draftsman. She completed basic training at Fort McClellan, Ala., which was then her first duty station for 15 months. She was later assigned to Fort Shafter in Honolulu.

Upon discharge, she came to Kaua‘i to be near her son. Dorsey and family resides in Kalaheo.

• Johnny Rabasa, a Hanama‘ulu resident and Kaua‘i High School graduate, served for 30 years in the U.S. Army, retiring as a command sergeant major. He served in Vietnam. He also retired from the U.S. Postal Service. He writes this monthly column exclusively for The Garden Island.

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