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Defective Care Policies Harm U.S. Veterans

June 02, 2004

I have just finished reading "From the Ranks to the Street" (May 29), on homeless veterans. How can a country that can send $87 billion to a country that essentially hates us not be able to spare a paltry cent to take care of the men and women who guaranteed and continue to guarantee our freedom? People can stream across our borders by land and sea and are entitled to immediate assistance. I wonder if the louse who complained about the wheelchair ramp ever heard a shot fired in anger?

I served 33 years (three wars), during which time I picked up tuberculosis. The dear old Air Force advised that the Department of Veterans Affairs would award me my disability. The VA promptly denied it. My advice is, when the enemy nears our shores, pick up arms but check to make sure the local gun control laws will allow it. If not, stand with your hands in the air.

Thomas Jm. Cardwell

Lt. Col., USAF (Retired)

Riverside

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I am a very fortunate veteran who has a home, but I have known many homeless vets. I do believe it is a national disgrace that our veterans do not get better care, but it is a bigger disgrace that the services separated many members who were mentally ill in ways that preclude their access to veterans benefits.

This seemed to be the policy at various times when administrations were concerned with the future cost of veterans' care. It was a very shortsighted and unfair policy, as the cost of caring for and medically treating these veterans has to be borne by state and local governments.

It is a shame to punish someone for being mentally ill, but even more to extend the punishment for a lifetime, which means many live and die on the street.

Charles G. Bill

Major, USAF (Retired)

Garden Grove

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During the Vietnam War, the service had to accept recruits who were underqualified, in part because the smartest, richest kids could afford to go to graduate school or find obscure exemptions to avoid service. Many would not have succeeded in any skilled endeavor and would have failed as auto mechanics, doormen or fry cooks, as well. When they were also subjected to the social castigation that defined their experience upon return to civilian life, they were more easily damaged, and 30 years later they now live on our streets and in our shelters, between visits to the VA hospital system.

Gary R. Albin

Lt. Col., USMC (Retired)

Long Beach

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During this Memorial Day weekend, as I gave remembrance to those who served in combat before me, to my own duty in Vietnam and to those young men and women who are making the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq today, I contemplated what it means to be an American. I read about the plight of veterans who can't find jobs or housing and are forced to sleep on the street. My emotions run from shame and disgust to anger.

In "Outsourcing Ax Falls Hard on Tech Workers" (May 30), I read of the plight of an American computer programmer who, only weeks from vesting his retirement, was fired after being tasked by his "American" company to train the very Indian programmers who were hired to replace him.

I have always been proud to be an American and even prouder to be an American combat veteran for whom the words "duty, honor, country" bring tears. I would like to ask the heads of "American" corporations who are firing Americans and hiring foreigners what "duty, honor, country" mean to them.

Sal Tarantino

San Diego

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