Veterans Group Questions Bishop’s Military Service

A Veterans group blog site recently filed a Freedom of Information request regarding Congressman Sanford Bishop’s claim to be an Army veteran. They posted the response on their blog and the Facebook page of the 2nd District Republican Party.

Congressman Bishop’s official biography reads, “He served in the U.S. Army from 1969 to 1971; completed basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia, entered Advanced Reserve Officers Training, and received an Honorable Discharge in 1971.”

The report showed that Bishop was in the US Army Reserves for 17 months. The dates of service were September 15, 1969 to February 19, 1971. He was assigned to Georgia State University where he was also discharged.

He was discharged as a Private. There was no information to provide on salary, commissions, promotions, military education, promotions or rewards.

The National Archives report also included a section for Transcript of Court Martial Trial. The answer reads: “Not in file.”

The wording from the National Archives reads like one of those, “Have you stopped beating your wife?” questions. Does this mean that there was a court martial trial but the transcript is not in the file or that there was never a court martial trial so no transcript exists?

In today’s political environment, I would not be surprised to get a letter or e-mail asking me to sign the petition to demand that Sanford Bishop make his court martial transcript available. Perhaps the National Archives should use “Not Applicable” to avoid raising unnecessary questions.

The National Archives listed the branch of service as United States Army Reserves. There is a difference between the Regular Army and the Army Reserves. Those serving on active duty generally refer to being, “in the Army.” Other than the section for Military Education which was blank, the report makes no reference to basic training.

The statements in Sanford Bishop’s biography that can be validated by the National Archives are technically true. The references to service in the “US Army” and then “Advanced Reserve Officers Training” for two years leave the impression that the Congressman was discharged as an officer after two years.

I believe that this is an intentional revisionist spin in his biography to camouflage the truth. The truth is that he left the ROTC program after 17 months and accepted a discharge as an E-1 buck private.

This revisionism is reflected in the condition of the 2nd Congressional District of Georgia during the past two decades. His newsletters paint a beautiful portrait of what he has done as congressman.

Take a closer look. The difference between what he portrays and reality are as stark as the differences in the portrayal of his military service and the reality of 17 months of ROTC and discharge as a buck private.

Signature-Donald E. Cole

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