- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dear Sgt Shaft,

I submitted forms over a year ago for my [discharge form] DD-214s, which were lost or stolen over a year ago and received no reply. Also asked for medical records with no results. Looks like wasted time to me. — Robert H., Arizona

Dear Robert,

I continue to receive missives of dissatisfaction regarding the National Archives’ inadequate service. The good news, however, is that after six months, I personally received the records that I had requested. The bad news is I received a letter from the Archives stating my identity information might have been compromised as a result of the loss of a hard disk containing my and other veterans’ information.

I strongly recommend the appropriate congressional committee hold hearings regarding the apparent dysfunction of the National Archives. Too many veterans and their families are suffering a delay of their benefits as a result of this untimely service.

The famous words of Rudyard Kipling must be echoing in their ears as they await their records.

Rudyard Kipling
Tommy I went into a public-‘ouse to get a pint o’beer,
The publican ‘e up an’ sez, “We serve no red-coats here.”
The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:
O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, go away”;
But it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins,” when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it’s “Thank you, Mr. Atkins,” when the band begins to play.
I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-‘alls,
But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, wait outside”;
But it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide,
The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,
O it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide.
Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap;
An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.
Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, how’s yer soul?”
But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.
We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards, too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints:
Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;
While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, fall be’ind,”
But it’s “Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind,
There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind.
You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires an’ all:
We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country,” when the guns begin to shoot;
An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
But Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!

Shaft notes

According to House Republican Conference Secretary John Carter, who represents Fort Hood, Texas, in Congress, the secretary of defense has the authority and should award the Purple Heart to those killed or wounded in the Fort Hood attack, eliminating the need for congressional action.

Mr. Carter has officially written Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates that he was “deeply disappointed” that the Defense Department report on the attack “not only ignored the clear radical Islamic facet of the incident,” but also failed to designate the attack as either an international terrorist attack or an act of combat by an enemy of the United States.

Either designation by the secretary would make all casualties of the action eligible for combat-related benefits and awards, including the Purple Heart.

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