Veterans' DayI work for the VA in St. Louis' regional office as a rehabilitation counselor. Vet Centers provide a great service to our veterans, and I'm thrilled that you ran this story. It brings awareness of this service that many veterans do not know exists for them. Good work!

Armando De La Garza

St. Louis

I read your story, and where I found it timely and pertinent I have to say it's old news. It was old news during and after the first Gulf War, as well as Vietnam and Korea.

The people at the VA do an outstanding job. But they are now and always hampered by a government (read Congress and president) who don't feel it's necessary to properly fund them. Even Secretary Rumsfield stated he thinks funding for veterans services should be cut since it doesn't help with recruiting.

As a retired military member, it's great to see all the flags and hear about all the support people have for the troops. But how many of these people have taken the time to write to their representative, senator or even the president to support legislation to fund veteran services or just to ask that they not be cut?

Maybe if more people showed this type of support the service members returning from this war will not have to go through what past returning service members have gone through to get the help they need and deserve.

Daniel Jones

MSgt USAF Retired

Brandon, Fla.

How horrible is it that so many people are dying in this war, and then the people who make it back are irreparably damaged? And for what? Dubya's illegal, unconstitutional religious crusade. And now, perhaps the most disturbing of all are the reports of abuse inflicted on Iraqis by our military. Where's the outrage? Where's the accountability?

Travis May

TampaOn OCDA friend of mine who knows I have OCD passed along your recent article. I found it to be extremely well written. This is a disorder that is debilitating and, as you mentioned, misunderstood (if even acknowledged or known) by the masses. If only one OCD sufferer who does not even know they have it now takes action to find help, you've saved a life.

Bob Burg

Jupiter, Fla.

Grass RootsIn your otherwise excellent discussion of Mary Jane and the drugs issue generally as a "third rail" of Florida politics, you quoted Sandy Murman as having said, "I don't see any Republican talking about medical marijuana." Well, she's close, but not quite accurate.

Jim Riis, a schoolteacher, had the courage to run as a Republican against Bob Henriquez for State Representative, and explicitly attacked the war on drugs (not merely medical marijuana). I ran for Congress as a Libertarian. I'm not so much "on" dope as for staying out of people's medicine chests and bedrooms, as was Jim Riis.

Believe me, most Republicans in leadership positions are for legalization, but stay in the closet about it. In the words of Dave Boaz of the Cato Institute, "I don't know about y'all, but where I'm from, if something doesn't work, you stop doing it." Naturally, psychotropic drugs should still be illegal for sale to minors, but as we all know, the biggest dope-pushers in the schools are the administrators pushing Ritalin instead of addicting our children to a love of knowledge and learning.

Robert Edward Johnson


Publisher's ClearinghouseI'm a fan of Andisheh's column in the Planet each week and find it a great perspective on America's role in the world. I wanted to offer a different view of Pakistan from last week's column. I've gotten a chance to get to know some of the Pakistani military through their presence at MacDill AFB and their participation in the coalition forces with the U.S. in Afghanistan. I've also gotten a chance to know Pakistani Ambassador-at-Large, Jamsheed Marker, a wise and honorable diplomat who has served Pakistani governments back to the early 1960s and is a personal friend of President Musharraf.

It is no secret that the U.S. had very difficult relations with Pakistan leading up to the events of 9/11. This was true of relations with Afghanistan as well. The U.S. had by and large neglected this part of the world following the withdrawal of the Soviet troops in the 1980s, following their invasion of Afghanistan.

The perspective that I think is missing is the role Musharraf is playing to hold Pakistan together. Polls indicate that a sizable majority of the country believes that Osama Bin Laden is a hero and wants Pakistan to be run as an Islamic state. Moreover, given the threat of military-led coups and the lack of a stable transfer of power, the failure to turn over the military leadership should be seen in this context. Musharraf suffers assassination attempts on a routine basis, yet stands firm on his commitment to separate Pakistan from the radical fundamentalists who have had a free ride for much of the past 30 years. It is these folks who are trying to assassinate him.

I don't think your conclusions about democracy being delayed are wrong, I just think Musharraf deserves more credit than the West is giving him. I also believe that the Pakistani military is cooperating with the U.S. at a much higher level than is seen in the public eye.

Ben Eason

Publisher, Weekly Planet

CLARIFICATIONNancy Wallick, a clinical social worker at the Suncoast Center for Community Mental Health in St. Petersburg, does not, as we stated, prescribe medicine to patients suffering from OCD. She refers them to in-house psychiatrists who are licensed to do so.

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