Obama aide joins VA investigation | May 21
VA problem has persisted too long
What I find more deplorable than the reported delays of care for veterans at VA hospitals, which I too have experienced and reported, is the gross inactivity and negligence of our elected officials, who have now all joined the bandwagon of people demanding an investigation, a fix and a search for someone to hold accountable. This is hypocrisy at its greatest.
I have been writing to my elected federal representatives for years reporting this very problem of delayed care. Most, if not all, of my letters have gone unanswered, or were replied to with a form letter that did not even address the issue or my allegations. While we are looking into this issue, let's fix the entire problem and hold all those accountable to make sure those in need of deserved help get timely and adequate care.
Stanley G. Gray, Tampa
Obama aide joins VA investigation | May 21
Navigating the bureaucracy
This is written not in anger, but in sadness. I am a veteran with a service-connected disability, and I am generally pleased with the medical care provided at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa.
What I'm sad about is that the Department of Veterans Affairs is about to fix faux challenges in a politicized attempt to satisfy Congress. Two factors have been missing from your coverage and, I am sure, from the consciousness of the majority of the members of Congress who lament the system they have created.
First, there is a big difference between the roles of the Veterans Benefits Administration and the Veterans Health Administration. Both of these internal VA bureaucracies are filled with good and not-so-good employees, and both compete for a piece of the bureaucratic pie, but neither has broken the code on dealing with the other. We are likely to find that if any veterans died waiting for care they were most likely attempting entry into the VA system through the benefits agency.
As for the Veterans Health Administration, for as long as I have been in the VA system, there has been a priority of care. Once "enrolled" in the VHA, each veteran is assigned to one of the eight priority groups.
Here is the conundrum: Two veterans call for an appointment. One lost his leg in Afghanistan and has a service-connected traumatic brain injury (Priority Group 1). The other served for 183 days in 1963. He has nonservice-connected diabetes and shows signs of premature dementia (Priority Group 6). There is one appointment available at the appropriate clinic under current VA rules. Who should get the earliest appointment? Who should go on a "so-called" secret list so that the bureaucrat gets a bonus? Should the VA even have a "priority of care" system?
No one has the complete answer. But I have long since discovered that the more someone in the power structure says he is for the veteran, the less he means it. The most plausible solution I have heard so far is to grant to all veterans the same health care that members of Congress and their staffs get. That will clean out the cobwebs.
Harold W. Youmans, Riverview
Gun safety, personalized May 20, commentary
Solution finds opponents
I'd like to think that responsible gun owners and nonowners alike would welcome a firearm that can be fired only by the wearer of a special device that unlocks the weapon.
However, when a gun shop in Maryland advertised that it was selling the Armatix iP1 pistol, the owner stopped after gun rights advocates lashed out on Facebook and called the store, threatening to shoot the owner, his girlfriend and his dog.
Larry Molter, Tampa
Better ways to show respect
My heart aches when I read about missing children, a murdered family and people grieving. But why is it always balloons that are "set free" as memorial? They get caught in trees, injure and kill wildlife, and seriously pollute our waterways.
If you want to honor someone, plant a tree, plant flowers or spread birdseed. Make a donation to an approved charity that protects the environment — effect positive change.
Please accept my sincere sympathies to those who are grieving their loss.
Heidi Sumner, St. Petersburg
Board: Expedite wetland permits | May 21
Protect our wetlands
I want to commend Craig Pittman and the Times on their continuing coverage of the destruction of Florida's wetlands. This article sums up nicely what is wrong with Swiftmud and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. They're not here to "protect" the wetlands. They're here to serve the developers in approving all requests, except for one, for the destruction of the wetlands as quickly as they can.
I believe we shouldn't allow the destruction of any wetlands. The wetlands provide habitat for wildlife, which allow our fishing industry to prosper and protect of our homes from storms. Meanwhile, the developers are looking at short-term profits without regard to the benefits of protecting the wetlands.
The citizens of Florida need to hold Swiftmud to the higher standard of protecting our wetlands, not the standard of how fast they grant a permit to a developer to destroy them.
Dick Snell, St. Petersburg
Pride parade, city will split costs | May 21
Matter of fairness
I think it's great that St. Petersburg is going to spend about $35,000 to fund the gay pride parade, but as a taxpaying heterosexual, I do feel slighted. I believe that we heterosexuals still make up the majority of eligible voters. Where is our parade to celebrate our accomplishments as parents, teachers, clergy, etc.? I believe in live and let live, but I also believe in fairness. Mr. Mayor, where is our parade?
Kent Eyink, St. Petersburg
Music in public
A little decorum, please
We live with rock music everywhere we go. Our malls, restaurants, drugstores, supermarkets and airports are imposing rock music on everyone.
What happened to our taste for quality of life in public spaces? Our music environment has a significant influence on our mental health. We need a voice for standards in our public space.
Robert Shaw, Deland