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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN

Build support network for returning veterans

The April 11 News article, "Making life as whole as it can be," paints a powerful picture of the physical challenges that too many of our veterans face as they return home, but we must also be mindful of veterans' "invisible wounds" their mental-health needs. In New York State, 22 percent of returning veterans have a probable diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression. Unfortu-nately, only half of veterans who seek care for a mental-health need receive adequate treatment.

As they return home to their families and neighborhoods, our veterans and their family members deserve community-based support, health and social services, and other resources to help them reintegrate into their communities and families. Meeting the needs of veterans and their families is not solely a military responsibility; serving our veterans well requires a shared commitment from all of us -- Veterans Affairs representatives, other community-based veteran-serving organizations, mental health and substance use counselors, health care providers, other Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and families, friends and neighbors. Building a support network for veterans that they can easily access and depend on will require that the federal government support both VA and non-VA services.

There is an urgent need to improve the availability and the quality of services for returning veterans and their families, and the tens of thousands of New Yorkers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan deserve all of our support.

Jacqueline Martinez

Senior Program Director

New York State Health Foundation

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Some are addressing housing discrimination

An April 9 article in The Buffalo News Home Finder, "Refusal to accept Section 8 isn't discrimination," is misleading because it did not make clear that in Western New York a number of municipalities have enacted ordinances that make it illegal to refuse to rent based upon lawful source of income.

The City of Buffalo, West Seneca and Hamburg have adopted source-of-income discrimination ordinances. For additional information on fair housing practices, please contact Housing Opportunities Made Equal at 716-854-1400 or www.homeny.org.

Lauren Breen

UB Law School Community

Economic Development Committee

Western New York Law Center

Member of the Erie County

Fair Housing Partnership

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We need in-depth debate on health executives' pay

It was heartwarming to learn from an April 10 story that in 2009 five senior Kaleida executives were paid a total of $5,556,462, and that in 2011, as The News reported earlier, Kaleida is closing clinics for the poor, undoubtedly because they are losing money. It was almost equally heartwarming to note that a significant part of the April 10 story included self-serving explanations by senior executives of other health care not-for-profit organizations that their high pay is both necessary and deserved. (It appears that Kaleida's PR operation is smart enough not to allow its executives to say anything in public about their pay.) Has anyone ever heard of richly paid people as a group acknowledging that they are not really worth what they are paid?

Unfortunately, The News provided no analysis of the issue in an editorial, op-ed article or series of articles. What is the point of publishing the pay packages of health care, self-care executives, followed by justifications of their high pay in their own words? Is this not a form of voyeurism with the object being money? For the story to have value beyond gossip of the moment, The News needs to provide in-depth discussion of pay for health care executives. Is it true, as the executives claim, that competent or even talented executives would not work for pay considerably less than the pay cited in the article? My hunch is that almost all of the executives would remain in their jobs if their pay was reduced by one-half, and then, perhaps, cutting off health care for the poor might be somewhat less severe.

Richard Cowan, M.D.

Amherst

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Inability to strike is not an advantage

In response to the April 9 letter titled, "Public sector unions have an unfair advantage," I feel compelled to respond. Public sector unions are actually at a disadvantage when it comes to their bargaining power, because New York State law makes it illegal for them to go on strike. If a union feels as though a presented offer is unfair, its only recourse is to go without a contract (and this can last for years).

As an Erie County Civil Service employee and a member of Teamsters 264, I can tell you firsthand that two of the county's union's -- CSEA and Teamsters -- have been without a contract for seven-plus years. At the rate the county is moving, it may be another seven years before a fair contract is offered. If that is the case, these public union members will be without a raise for 14 years. How is that an unfair advantage?

Daniel S. McParlane

West Seneca Democratic chairman

West Seneca

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We don't know the facts about fracking chemicals

In a recent Another Voice, the writer calls for the use of facts in determining our use of hydrofracking as a way of dealing with our energy problems. I agree completely with that assessment. The problem is in our understanding just what the facts are, as well as the future implications of these facts.

The writer proceeds to give us a single fact that is of no value whatsoever to the discussion: that seven rivers tested in Pennsylvania showed no increase in levels of radioactivity. That may be true, but no one is concerned with increases in radioactivity due to fracking. It's a straw man -- a meaningless argument that calms a non-existent concern.

Some facts that would be good to know would be exactly what chemicals are being pumped into the ground as components of the fracking fluid. But we can't know, because the formula is a company secret protected by the so-called Halliburton Loophole. It is difficult to make decisions based on facts if we are not allowed to know what those facts are.

The writer also complains that comparing the oil and gas industry's activities to Love Canal or other toxic areas is hype and scare tactics. As if the crises that occurred many years ago do not continue to this day, every day, always accompanied by industry's lies, distortions and minimalizations. The gas will be there until we decide to get it. For once, let's do it properly and with as much understanding of the consequences as possible.

The writer is the president of an energy consultancy and obviously has a great concern in these matters. So do I. The nearest deep well is just a few hundred feet from my back door.

Paul Tenser

Springville