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Twentynine Palms' collateral damage

March 08, 2007

Re "A military wife's battle is lost here at home," Column One, March 3

We would like to believe that the lives of our soldiers fighting for us overseas are ones of heroism and grandeur. However, this article challenged that ideal by explaining that the lives of the military are far from it.

A lot of those overseas are young, and many have young families waiting at home for them. However, what are the conditions in which they are waiting? It is unfortunate to read that a 25-year-old mother, the wife of one of our heroes, has struggled with depression and methamphetamine use. One has to ask, would this have happened had the husband stayed at home? Granted, there are many American soldiers who want to be there and have taken on this military job not as a whim but as something they strove to do. It was just surprising to read that the military heroes whom we pray for every day may have it even harder here at home, and that they dream about that life of heroism and grandeur instead of actually living it.

NICOLE NASSIEF

Sherman Oaks

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On the tragic mess that drugs and deployments have made of the marriage of Nicole Woody and her Marine husband, I will let others howl about your one-dimensional portrait of Twentynine Palms, described as nothing more than tattoo parlors, dive bars and fast-food joints, 45 minutes from the nearest Wal-Mart. That's neither accurate nor the point of my response. And I expect that you will also get heartfelt and honest descriptions of all that is being done, at the base and within the civilian community, to make more bearable the awful strains that befall military families, and especially young families, during wartime separations. And much is being done.

But I'm struck by lines of acceptance and denial in the piece. One says: "If the spouses choose to isolate themselves, there is only so much we can do." And another: "Our statistics do not show that meth is a huge problem on base as it is in town." As one who loves this small, remote and precious desert town and the men and women who leave spouses (often youngsters themselves) here while they go off to fight our country's battles, I only ask: Are we doing all that we can? And, if not, are we willing to do more?

OWEN GILLICK

Twentynine Palms

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