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SGT. SHAFT: Rename to Dept. of the Navy and Marine Corps

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dear Sgt Shaft:

Every year since 2001, Congressman Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., has introduced a bill in the House, to re-designate the Department of the Navy to the Department of the Navy and Marine Corps only to have it die in the Senate without action.

For more than two and a quarter centuries, the Navy and Marine Corps have been partners and shipmates in answering the call to defend our great nation against any foe. The strategic partnership of the Navy and the Marine Corps has served our nation well and gives America a maritime capability that is unmatched by anyone in the world.

This initiative is not intended to diminish the strength of that partnership. It is also not intended to change defense budgets or roles and missions. It is not intended to create any new positions. This effort seeks to formalize that which has been recognized in a "de-facto" manner for many years. To allow the Secretary of the Navy to let the world know that he is proudly "The Secretary of the Navy and Marine Corps." The nation has always recognized the symbiotic relationship that exists in the Naval Services between the Navy and Marine Corps. This initiative is intended to bring formal recognition to this partnership.

This Department does, in fact provide the civilian leadership to two military services -- the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps. This has been codified in law for more than six decades. Changing the name to reflect this reality does not diminish the respect and admiration Marines and Sailors share with each other. Rather it strengthens this relationship for the entire world to see.Is it not time for the Marine Corps to receive the recognition it has earned in war and in peace, to stand shoulder to shoulder with our Navy brothers in arms as the Department of the Navy and Marine Corps?

This initiative has gained tremendous momentum all over the country, including the support of former Secretaries of the Navy, Navy Admirals, former Commandants of the Marine Corps, former Sergeants Major of the Marine Corps, Medal of Honor recipients and more importantly, hundreds of thousands of Americans who love and support their Marine Corps.

Retired Gunnery Sgt. R. Lee Ermey, widely known for his performance as the sadistic drill instructor in the 1987 film "Full Metal Jacket," headlined a recent news conference in Washington, D.C., calling to rename the Department of the Navy as the Department of the Navy and Marine Corps.

The event, at the Longworth House Office Building, was aimed at drumming up support for House Resolution 24, a bill authored by Rep. Jones, that formally proposes the name change.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., introduced a sister bill in the Senate, but it has just two co-sponsors -- Sens. Richard Burr and Kay Hagan from North Carolina. "Why can't we call it the Department of Navy -- and Marine Corps?" Roberts asked. "Why can't we add three words to right an injustice?

"I can't imagine anyone looking at one of these wounded veterans without arms or legs in the eyes telling them no. Ermey said. "How do you reason that?"

Other speakers included former Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Alfred M. Gray; Gen. Anthony Zinni, former Commander of U.S. Central Command; Bronze Star recipient Sgt. Eddie Wright, a Marine who lost both hands in combat in Iraq yet went on to become a Marine Corps Martial Arts Program instructor; Tracy Della Vecchia, founder of Marine Parents.com; and Dick Linn, whose son was killed in Iraq in 2005.

For more information on this very important issue, your readers can go to www.MarineCause.org .

Many thanks and Semper Fidelis,
Michael A. Blum
National Executive Director
Marine Corps League

Dear Mike:

The Sarge joins The Fleet Reserve Association (FRA) and others who strongly support the ongoing campaign to rename the Department of the Navy so it more accurately reflects the Marine Corps' significant contributions.

I strongly urge fellow combat veteran and friend, Jim Webb to join Sen. Pat Roberts in honchoing this legislation through the Senate. These three words, United States Marines, mean so much to those who wear and have worn the Globe and Anchor.

Shaft Notes

At a recent hearing on the VA budget, U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki agreed that reforming the VA disability claims system must be a top priority.

According to Akaka: "It will take years and significant resources to fully train new VA claims staff on the complex existing procedures. We need to bring systemic change to the current process if VA is to provide veterans with the timeliness and accuracy they deserve."

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.