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Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 06:48 am

Letters to the Editor 12/30/10


Soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C.

I read with great interest the Illinois Times’ article on Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) and their recent visit to Springfield [see “Iraq vets urge end to multiple deployments,” Dec. 23]. I have served in the Army for five years, and am still on active duty. My service has taken me to Afghanistan and large parts of Latin America. I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly of military service, and the service this group describes is one that is radically different from what exists in reality.

The Army I serve in recognizes there is no place for sexual assault in today’s professional Army. Each unit has a victim advocate trained in how to respond to victims of sexual assault, and trained in how to handle their complaint in a manner the victim chooses. Each victim, upon making a complaint, is given the service of a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator who walks the victim through the process, while ensuring the rights of the victim are always respected. In the Army I serve in we take sexual assault seriously. We strive to create an atmosphere where it is not tolerated, and a system that protects the victim, while punishing the guilty.

Your article describes a military service where suicides are twice the rate of that in the civilian world. Let the truth be told, 2009 was the worst year for suicides ever in the Army. We lost 160 soldiers to suicide. It is a sobering and an unacceptable statistic. After nine years of war in Afghanistan and seven years of war in Iraq, where our soldiers have repeatedly deployed, leaving everything behind to serve our country, the suicide rate for the Army was 13.8 per 100,000, while in 2007 the suicide rate for the civilian population was 11.3 per 100,000. Once again, the service your article describes is not the reality of our military service.

The IVAW opposes sending troops with PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Military Sexual Trauma back into combat. In the Army I serve in, untold numbers of men and women with PTSD have fought their battle with this disorder, and overcome it. In the military the IVAW describes, when faced with adversity we should give up.

Our military is not perfect, but it should be judged for what it is, and not for what these men describe it as. They should push for Tri-Care, the military health care plan, to cover cognitive rehabilitation therapy for veterans with Traumatic Brain Injuries, that they profess to care so much about. I think it’s morally abhorrent for them to have spread mistruths about the military.

Grant Vaught
currently assigned to Ft. Myer, Va.

Pay to Play politics did not end in Illinois when former Gov. Rod Blagojevich was impeached. Backroom deals are being worked out now for a massive expansion of gambling during the “lame duck” session on Jan. 3-11, 2011.

Illinois already has a reputation as a “deadbeat” state. Some legislators seem to believe that opening 11 more casinos (SB 737) will keep gambling revenue in Illinois. Preying on Illinois residents and enticing them to gamble in Illinois will not enhance the state’s reputation, nor is it a fair way to raise revenue.

Tripling the amount of casino gambling could dramatically increase the problems this state already faces. The costs of gambling and harm to families far outweigh the revenue – $3 of costs for each $1 of revenue.

Contact your state representative (217-782-2000), or leave a message at his/her district office, asking for a NO vote on SB 737. We don’t want Illinois to become the Number 1 predatory gambling state in the nation.

Anita Bedell, executive director
Illinois Church Action on Alcohol & Addiction Problems

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