Tommy Atkins

In a rather disappointing turn of events the Congress has decided that retired veterans will lose the 1% Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA) that was included in the pension benefit package for those who serve for over twenty years.  Despite the promise made by the nation to those who served the flag for so long, the expedience of the political process has made the cut a fait accompli.  It is not particularly surprising that veterans will surrender benefits to pay the nation’s bills, but what is surprising is that the cut is being made while Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen are fighting and dying in active combat in defense of the nation and its principles.

Unfortunately, it is likely a harbinger of things to come.  It is also far from unprecedented.  Rudyard Kipling, the British adventurer and poet, wrote about how his fickle nation views the military as personified by its ubiquitous soldier, Tommy Atkins:

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.


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, ‘ow’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;

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

Sadly, although this poem was penned over a century ago it still bitingly resonates.


Transitionnews 12/17/13

Transitionnews for Tuesday, December 17th 2013:

Good news story of the day

Helping veterans — one smile at a time  (The Herald News)  The rotting and cracked teeth were more than just a cosmetic problem, though. They were painful.


Survey aimed at understanding veterans’ first civilian jobs  (Stars and Stripes)  Veterans unemployment has dropped steadily over the last two years, but no one knows whether the jobs they are finding are any good.

AT&T Continues Hiring Drive In Louisiana; Nearly 240 Jobs Currently Available; Military Veterans Sought  (Market Watch)  AT&T* today announced that the company is seeking applicants to fill nearly 240 jobs in Louisiana, including more than 80 new jobs. The positions will be primarily focused on retail, technician and customer service jobs and are a result of AT&T’s continued investment in Louisiana.

SolarCure Announces Military Veterans Hiring Initiative  (Yahoo Finance)  SolarCure Chief Executive Officer Mike Ferraro and Founder Ray Saluccio announced today a new veterans hiring initiative designed to offer veterans, military spouses and wounded warriors a “Boots to Boardroom Career Lifeline” into the growing Green Energy sector. As part of the SolarCure Veterans Hiring Initiative, the pledge expands a goal in 2014 to offer meaningful careers for an estimated 100 veterans across the nation.

Virginia sanctuary helps veterans heal  (Daily Herald)  The war followed Scott Botts home.


Wells Fargo and Military Warriors Support Foundation say Happy Holidays to Military Veterans with Home Donations at College Bowl Games  (Business Wire)  Wells Fargo (WFC) and the Military Warriors Support Foundation (MWSF) will spread holiday cheer to military veterans by announcing home donations during eight college bowl games.

US, Manila ink pact to repair ash-covered veterans cemetery   (Stars and Stripes)  U.S. and Philippine officials signed an agreement Monday for Washington to restore a cemetery north of Manila where the graves of thousands of American service members and dependents have been covered in ash since Mount Pinatubo’s 1991 eruption.

Suits for Troops benefits WNY vets  (Buffalo Law Journal)  As the saying goes, the suit makes the man.

Veterans, beer brewer team up to support Vets4Vets  (Great Falls Tribune)  About a month before the Veterans Stand Down in September, organizers were told they might lose about $3,000 in funding for facility rentals.

Wreaths for Veterans Continues  (  Wreaths for Veterans continues Monday with a stop at Riverside Cemetery.

Death rate unusually high for young veterans  (Los Angeles Times)  Mark Tyree was chasing death.

Veterans Affairs

VA eases rules for claims on some TBI-related health problems  (Stars and Stripes)  Veterans Affairs officials are easing disability filing rules for brain injured veterans with additional combat complications like depression, dementia or Parkinson’s disease.

VA adds five diseases to be covered with traumatic brain injury  (  Some Veterans with traumatic brain injury (TBI) who are diagnosed with any of five other ailments will have an easier path to receive additional disability pay under new regulations developed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Veterans in 9 cities have to wait more than a year for claims to be addressed  (The Washington Post)  Disabled veterans in Reno, Nev., have to wait an average of more than 14 months to have their claims addressed, according to data compiled by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans in Baltimore wait more than 13 months for their disability claims to be resolved.

VA proposes pension regulations rewrite to provide more clarity  (Fierce Government)  The Veterans Affairs Department will rewrite its regulations for veteran benefits claims and pensions to make them more clear and coherent, a Nov. 27 Federal Register notice of proposed rulemaking says.


3 GOP Senators: Ryan-Murray Budget ‘Unfairly Targets’ Military  (  A bipartisan budget deal that has passed the House is facing some Republican opposition because it penalizes members of the military while protecting civilian federal employees, according to three GOP senators.

Chuck Schumer compares senators paying more under Obamacare to military retirees having benefits cut  (Washington Examiner)  How’s this for sacrifice? Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., believes that members of Congress have made personal fiscal sacrifices comparable to the cut in retirement benefits that military retirees are facing, because lawmakers have to pay more for health care under Obamacare.

Cuts for military retirees costing GOP support for budget deal  (The Washington Post)  GOP lawmakers and military groups have lined up against the bipartisan budget deal making its way through Congress because of a provision that would trim pay for young military retirees.

Reform of military retiree benefits is a hard battle for federal government  (The Washington Post)  Not all military retirees fought in combat, but as a group they certainly know how to attack any legislative plan that cuts into their pensions.

Military Partners and Families Coalition Joins Efforts To Protect Commissary and Exchange Benefits  (Business Wire)  The Military Partners and Families Coalition (MPFC) has joined The Coalition to Save Our Military Shopping Benefits, which now represents nearly 2 million service members – active duty, National Guard and Reserve, retirees, and veterans – and their families.

Vt. man sentenced for false veterans benefits  (  A Vermont man has been sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay over $24,000 for submitting false mileage reimbursement claims for travel to a VA hospital.

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Have a great day!