- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 20, 2005

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

The Fleet Reserve Association again applauds Congressman Walter Jones for reintroducing H.R. 34, a bill to change the name of the Secretary of the Navy to the Secretary of the Navy and Marine Corps. This was among the very first measures introduced in the 109th Congress and is similar to a bill introduced by Rep. Jones, and endorsed by FRA, in the 108th Congress.

This proposal would highlight the role of the Marine Corps as an equal member of the Armed Services in the eyes of our citizens who have always admired Marines for their dedication and loyalty to the nation. The Commandant of the Marine Corps is a permanent member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which is sufficient justification to recognize the Corps as an armed service equal to the task of providing its opinion and recommendations on joint and combined operations with the Army, Navy and Air Force.

The participations in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom prove again the Corps merits this recognition.

The Corps has filled a unique niche in our nation’s history not duplicated by any of the other armed services. The Corps, as the second most senior armed service, should receive the honor it truly deserves: equitable distinction among the military departments in the U.S. defense structure.

Sincerely,

Joseph L. Barnes

national executive secretary, FRA

Dear Joe:

A high five and semper fi to Rep. Walter B. Jones, North Carolina Republican, for his devotion to this noble effort. I once again urge all members of Congress to march in lockstep with Mr. Jones and the FRA to accomplish this mission.

Shaft notes

The Sarge joins the Veterans of Foreign Wars and other veterans organizations in voicing concern over the proposed budget for the VA.

“The president has delivered a disappointing funding request for the Department of Veterans Affairs,” said John Furgess, the leader of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, in reaction to the administration’s fiscal 2006 budget request.

“The claimed increase of $880 million for VA health care funding is really only about $100 million once you subtract those amounts that would be shouldered by military veterans,” the VFW’s commander in chief said.

“This budget will cause veterans’ health care to be delayed, and may result in the return of six-month-long waiting periods.”

Two key issues are the proposals to charge a $250 enrollment fee and a prescription co-payment that would more than double from $7 to $15.

“The message that this budget communicates is that part of the federal government’s deficit will be balanced on the backs of military veterans,” Mr. Furgess said, “because it’s clear that the proper funding of veterans’ health care and other programs is not an administration priority.

“And once again, I and other veterans are reminded of these famous words of Rudyard Kipling’s poem, ‘Tommy.’ ”

Here are some excerpts from the poem:

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, Mister Atkins,” when the band begins to play.

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;

An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!

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


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