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Everybody's Column

Government's treatment of soldiers is deplorable

I continue to be fully shocked by the Bush administration's two-sided approach to this war. We constantly hear "Support our troops" from this administration and Congress. But when it comes to actual support of these heroic personnel, the government fails.

Our troops are now asked, by official letter, to return "enlistment or signing bonuses" if they are wounded while on duty protecting our country because they "are unable to fulfill their agreement." They lose a leg or an arm, and we bill them for a bonus that is designed to get them to sign up for duty in the first place.

It is a sales ploy that is done daily in the working world. But this is not the "working world" for them. They put their lives and limbs on the line and now the government backs out of its commitment. Nice support.

At what point does common sense come into this government? Congress is now saying "it was a mistake." These letters started arriving last July to enlisted personnel. They are denied support when asking for professional help with mental issues after returning home, and now this. What is happening to this country?

The citizens support their efforts; what a shame that the government that sent them does not. Not to worry though, our lawmakers will not be asked to return their retirement dollars, will they?

John T. Swarbrick

Orchard Park


Marching band members deserve some kudos, too

I was a participant in the Harvard Cup. No, I wasn't scoring touchdowns or blocking passes. As a Hutch-Tech student, I played with the All City Marching Band during the half-time field show. The weather was terrible: cold and wet. The snow was blowing in our faces, and our hands were freezing up. We marched and played, even though we were out of breath and our mouthpieces froze to our lips. Those without gloves had hands that looked like Rudolph's nose.

But the media gave us no credit at all. It was all about the football players. Nothing about students from schools all over the city -- Grover Cleveland, Hutch-Tech, South Park, Performing Arts and many others -- who came together and played as one band. While we were marching and getting standing ovations from the crowd, the media didn't care. I hope they take this into consideration at the next Harvard Cup.

David Saunders



Most would welcome a smaller Wal-Mart

Recently, the Amherst Planning Board held a limited open meeting to consider a revised proposal by the Wal-Mart petitioner to develop a super-center at North Bailey Avenue and Sheridan Drive -- a location tucked into a limited space in a closely knit neighborhood.

The presenters did a professional job in their latest proposal to have the project approved. They admitted at the end, however, that a follow-up study may be needed six months after the business opens to further evaluate traffic and other environmental impacts.

Speaking in opposition were a handful of residents led by the president of the Hartford Estates-Bailey Avenue Homeowners Association. He made a well-researched case for a downsized facility. He advised that increased traffic congestion and other negative environmental issues override the proposed huge retail store.

He further stated that the quiet, peaceful residential community would be forever disrupted. He noted that most of the neighbors did not object to a smaller Wal-Mart. In fact, we welcome business back in now vacant retail buildings.

We strongly appeal to the Planning Board members to exercise their best judgment and come up with a compromise solution that will satisfy the petitioner, town administration and affected neighborhood residents, many of whom, like myself, have owned and resided in the area for several decades and who want to keep the neighborhood conducive to living and raising families.

Michael A. Altieri Sr.



Buying foreign cars hurts our economy

On Veterans Day, while stopped for a light at Delaware and Sheridan, I noticed my Chevrolet was the only American-made car in sight. The Kias, Toyotas, Subarus and a Mitsubishi surrounding me were adorned with bumper stickers and ribbons proclaiming: "Support our Troops," "Jobs for Veterans" and "God Bless America." One model made in Korea flew an American flag from its antenna. Do these car owners really care that unemployment and homelessness are major problems for veterans?

I am a Vietnam veteran and a 20-plus year member of the United Auto Workers Veterans Committee at the General Motors Engine Plant in Tonawanda. Over the years, our members have donated thousands of dollars to support veterans' causes and volunteered many hours at the VA hospitals in Buffalo, Batavia and Bath.

In recent years, local GM, Ford, Delphi and American Axle plants have lost thousands of jobs, and many hundreds of those jobs were worked by veterans. These job losses have cost our area hundreds of millions of dollars each year in payroll taxes that will no longer support the economy.

If we truly care about veterans, the local economy, our eroding tax base and American jobs, it sadly isn't evident on area roadways.

James Burns



'Lions for Lambs' has an important message

Well, the "right wing" propaganda machine has done it again. If it does not want the public to see and hear the truth, it simply mounts a campaign, in this case to empty the movie theaters. Last Saturday afternoon, I went to see the acclaimed movie, "Lions for Lambs." I was there with only two other patrons. The negative articles criticizing the movie are in direct correlation with those viewing the movie. Simply, if the message is not wanted to be heard, persuade the public to stay away.

The film "Lions for Lambs" touched deeply upon the problems and attitudes in America today. Americans have been fed a steady stream of fear-mongering, which has erupted into our freedoms being taken away from us.

"Lions for Lambs" presents three stories intertwined with the state of our nation today that need to be told about wars and politics. But if the public is deprived the freedom of choice, what future choices do we have?

All is not lost, because in a few months you can view "Lions for Lambs" on DVD. Also, don't forget to see "In the Valley of Elah." Make your own choice, before it's too late.

Merc Guerry

East Amherst

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