Army To Speed Medal Replacemant Delivery

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Subject: Army To Speed Medal Replacemant Delivery
Date: Sun, 6 May 2001 05:39:37 -0500
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By KEN MAGUIRE, Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON (AP) - World War II
veteran Noel Paradis of Worcester, Mass., lost his medals years ago. He
received replacements for his Purple Heart and Bronze Star last week, more
than a year after his daughter requested them.``It was a nightmare,'' Gayle
Valastro, his daughter, said of the process she had to go through to get the
replacements. ``I didn't think it was going to be so much trouble because I
had all the original papers.''For all its high-tech weaponry, the Pentagon (
- web sites) still is in the Stone Age - or at least the Paper Age -
when it comes to handing out medals. The Army is now converting from an
all-paper system to one with computers in an effort to reduce the average
wait for a medal from a year to three months.The Army receives 5,000 requests
per month, more than the other military branches combined. Most requests are
for replacement medals.Requests go to the National Personnel Records Center
in St. Louis, where 30 million records are warehoused. Orders to deliver
medals are sent to an Army office in Philadelphia. A computer link between
the offices should reduce wait times, officials said.``When you're getting
thousands and thousands of requests, and you have three people to process
them, it gets hard,'' Lt. Col. Leta Deyerle, referring to the staff at the
National Personnel Records Center.At the Army's Soldiers System Team Center
in Philadelphia, Director Greg Schech said officials are spending $250,000 to
computerize the process, create a database and Web site. Once the upgrade is
finished, any veteran or member of Congress will have access to the database
to find out the status of their request, Schech said. The electronic link
also will reduce duplicate requests.The current system has not been updated
for 30 years, said Sen. John Kerry (news - bio - voting record), D-Mass., a
decorated Vietnam War veteran whose office receives a dozen requests for help
per week.``We ought to be able to get it done sooner,'' said Kerry, who asked
the Army to streamline the process and sent a staff member to the
Philadelphia office to work on it. ``A lot of the vets are passing on. ...
Time is obviously of the essence.''-On the Net:Army public affairs:
Sen. John Kerry:


"From this day to the ending of the world,

But we in it shall be remember'd;

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

For he to-day that sheds his blood with me

Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,

This day shall gentle his condition:

And gentlemen in England now a-bed

Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,

And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks

That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day".



From Henry V by William Shakespeare