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Everybody's column

Redeploying soldiers is a national disgrace

A year and a half ago, my son returned from serving honorably as an infantry sergeant in Iraq. He had enlisted for a three-year stint but, due to the military's "stop-loss" scheme, was kept for an additional 14 months, for which he received no additional veteran benefits.

Upon receiving his honorable discharge, he enrolled in college, took a full-time job and got married. Subsequently, he was examined by Army doctors and diagnosed as having a 70 percent service-related disability for which he now receives a monthly disability payment. Last week, he received a letter informing him that he must report in January for redeployment back to Iraq.

Whatever one's political leanings, surely sending disabled men and women who have dutifully served their country in war back into battle must be recognized as what it is -- a national disgrace.

This desperate effort by the Pentagon to bolster troop strength by conscripting the hundreds if not thousands of military veterans who have patriotically completed their service and are now trying to adjust to lifelong disabilities is a shameful political act that should not be condoned by a just and civil society. It's time for us as a nation to look in the mirror and face what we've become.

Rick Johnson

Buffalo

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Carter sees solution to Mideast conflict

Most people understand that one of the keys to peace in the Middle East is resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. That's why it is so necessary to read Jimmy Carter's new book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid." As an internationally known and respected peace activist, as well as a participant in many of the negotiations concerning this conflict, Carter is in a unique position to share his knowledge and experience on this issue. While Carter maintains an even-handed approach to both sides in the conflict, the book's title says it all.

The reality is that Israel is dominating the Palestinians in conditions reminiscent of South Africa's apartheid regime -- walled off in separated enclaves, totally under Israeli control, isolated from each other and from the outside world. Carter's point is that until Israel is prepared to give up the occupation, withdraw to its legal 1967 border as specified in U.N. Resolution 242 and leave the Palestinians with a viable state, there can be no justice or peace in this region.

Eric A. Gallion

Blasdell

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People should consider becoming a living donor

Do you know there are more than 400 people on the Buffalo waiting list in need of a kidney? Visit a new Web site -- www.wnykidneyconnection.org -- and you will see pictures of your friends and neighbors and read a little bit about them and their needs. This Web site is new, so there aren't too many stories yet, but I guarantee the list will grow.

Won't you please consider becoming a living kidney donor? After all, you only need one. If you're thinking of being a living donor, it doesn't cost anything to look and just maybe your heartstrings will feel a bit of a tug. With today's technology, thousands of people are giving this ultimate gift of life. To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you just may be the world.

If you are in need of a kidney, we would love to add your name to our list. You just never know where your hero will come from.

Jeanette Ostrom

Jamestown

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Super Seniors' comments would be more interesting

I was mesmerized when I read over the full page of Super Seniors in the Dec. 9 News -- 107 bright, hard-working young people are ready to step up and take leadership roles in the world. What a thrill for the older generations to see, knowing there are thousands more working hard to prepare themselves to become productive citizens.

What also was impressive was the effort to take the photos, make up the page, and, it appears, for the private sector to step up as well. Well done!

But in the same edition, The News spent 11 column inches on a photo of Lindsay Lohan and her somewhat illiterate proclamation that she is one of the leaders of this generation, ". . . because I have such an impact on our younger generations, as well as generations older than me." While The News certainly has clearly and properly drawn attention to the shallow intellect and character of such celebrities, the next time I would like to read comments from some of the Super Seniors instead.

Craig Thrasher

East Aurora

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More hospitals needed for aging baby boomers

The so-called Berger Commission's shortsighted conclusion that our hospital system can be improved by eliminating "excess capacity" ignores one gigantic factor -- the generational storm of 77 million baby boomers who, within a decade, will need all of the available hospital beds and more.

The report says nothing about the coming deluge of boomers, nor does it mention the possibility of some kind of flu pandemic, as predicted by the Centers for Disease Control, or the possibility of a terrorist attack, as predicted by Homeland Security. These are not worst-case predictions, they are likely scenarios that a prudent society prepares for.

For the past 50 years, thousands of emergency cots could be found in Civil Defense shelters tucked into the basements of schools and public buildings around the country. But no longer. Where will we find the hospital beds needed by sick baby boomers? Where will we find medical beds in case of a national emergency?

Hospitals should mothball their excess beds, because in a few short years they will be needed and filled. Had the commission peered into the future beyond its limited 10-year horizon, it would have seen the baby boomer iceberg, dead ahead. This is bad planning. Reject it.

Bob Catalano

Derby

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Closing nursing home will disrupt many lives

In the face of deficits and discussion of health care consolidations, please keep Nazareth Nursing Home open. As a clinical nurse manager, I -- along with many others -- am dedicated and proud of the care that we deliver to the elderly here.

Our staff cares about the well being, dignity and quality of life for this aged population. We are the family, friends and voices of many of the individuals entrusted to our care. In the crisis that is evolving, we are concerned about where these residents will go. Several of them have lived here for well over 20 years. By closing, we will be forcing these people to leave their homes and friends.

These people have contributed to society, and lawmakers and decision makers need to realize this. In America, we need to place value on our elderly and put into perspective the value of simple dollars and cents.

Martha Falzarano, R.N.

Town of Tonawanda

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