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Dear Abby: We live in the Tampa Bay area, where two V.A. hospitals are located.

Two weeks ago, we were in a fast-food restaurant and saw a young man on crutches with two shiny metal prosthetics on each arm below the elbow. The following week, we were walking down the street and ahead of us was another young man. This one had shiny prosthetics on both legs below the hips and was walking with a cane.

My husband and I wanted to approach and speak to these young men, but we held back. We weren't sure how they would accept a stranger's attention to them.

I feel the American people need some guidance on how to handle this situation. Can you help us?

-- Patricia and Bill, Seminole, Fla.
Dear Patricia and Bill: Put yourselves, for just a moment, in the position of the young men you have encountered. Would it not be meaningful to you if someone saw what you had sacrificed in the line of duty, and verbalized appreciation for it? Some decisions are better left to the heart than to the head -- and whether or not to reach out in a case like this is one of them. I say, go for it. It could give a deserving young person a tremendous boost.

Something's missing

Dear Abby: I am in a relationship with a guy who does not like to kiss. We act like an old married couple. He's not affectionate or romantic in any way at all. He'll hold my hand in public, but that's it. I'm wondering if it's because of depression. He loves to work, but I think it's to cover his depression.

He tells me every day that he loves me, and we never fight. We actually get along very well. Are some men just not affectionate? I would like to be, but I know he's not that type. My parents are not affectionate people, and they have been together for 38 years.

My boyfriend has told me that he knows there is something wrong with him and that he needs counseling about his behavior. We have a lot in common and see each other every day, so we are definitely serious. We laugh and click in ways other than being romantic and passionate. Is there any hope?

-- Starved for Affection in Birmingham
Dear Starving: There is hope, but only if your boyfriend is willing to get the counseling he says he needs. As it stands, your needs do not appear to be high on his list of priorities. Because it does not appear that a marriage without physical expression would be satisfying for you, it may be that you and he are destined to be the dearest of friends -- but not mates. If he truly cares as much about you as you care for him, he owes it to you to level with you.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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