“Ills, Ails and Wails…” (TS Cards)

There are several variations of the “TS” card seen around from years past. I’ve seen these spelled out as “Tuff Stuff” or “Tuff S**t” but both were a humorous way to discourage whining. Likely begun as a joke to give to Service Members who seemed to complain all the time, similar to the phrase, “tell it to the chaplain” instead of listening to the gripe. Most have a number of boxes that can be checked off or hole-punched, to indicate the number of visits to the chaplain (I’m not sure if the chaplain would no longer see that Service Member whose card got full!).

It seems that some chaplains picked up on these and used similar cards, perhaps the ones with “Tuff Stuff” instead of the alternative, then later “Theological Solutions,” to encourage Service Members to come and see them and also to advertise worship services. Below is a card used by chaplains at Spokane Army Air Field (sometime between the end of WW2 and 1950) which has similar encouragement to visit the chaplain on one side (with places for hole-punches) and worship service times on the other side for Catholics, Protestants and Jewish Service Members (author’s collection):


Below is another similar TS card, this using the TS to recommend “Tried Solutions for Tough Situations” with several situations paired with Scripture verses. This card also has the blocks around the outside to be hole-punched by the chaplain. On the reverse is a picture of the chaplain, Melvin E. Pratt (author’s collection):


Below is a simpler “TS” card adding the common statement, “Tell your troubles to the Chaplain” by Chaplain Sidoti, who had a distinguished military career in WW2 and following in the NY National Guard. You can read more about Chaplain Sidoti here (author’s collection):



Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the Army Chief of Chaplain’s office was not thrilled with chaplains’ use of these TS cards. In Circular Letter 293, 1 February 1945, the following admonition was given:

T.S. Cards: It has recently come to the attention of this office that some chaplains are still resorting to the use of the so called “T.S. Card.” It is believed that such a practice does not reflect favorably upon the chaplains involved or the Corps in general. It is our duty to serve with proper dignity all men who come to us irrespective of the validity of their complaints. The possibility that even a few may take offense at what would appear to be harmless humor lessons our opportunity for service and prevents us from performing as well as possible the duties for which the Army has commissioned us. (Source: Chaplain Bob Nay)



About Daryl Densford

I am an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene serving as an active-duty Army Chaplain. I am currently an ethics instructor at the U.S. Army Aviation School at Fort Rucker, Alabama.

Posted on 10 November 2017, in Chaplaincy, History and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. George Charles Jr

    ‘TS’ has always meant ‘tough sh*t’…since can remember…I graduated in 1971 and it was a common term then.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: