VA problem has persisted too long | May 23, letter
Wait to enter system frustrating
I believe that I receive very good care from the VA health care system. Of course, I am a 100 percent permanent disabled veteran. This may give me some advantage over other users of the system.
Using the VA health care system is not the issue; it is the wait many veterans have in getting into the system. The VA has such a backlog of veterans simply applying for entry into the system that, with all the other frustrating issues they are facing, many seem to give up.
Congress should enact legislation that enables the VA to hire the personnel necessary to do the job of getting these veterans qualified for entry into the health care side for the services they need and deserve. Once that is figured out, Congress should give consideration to allocating as much money to the VA health care system as it so quickly gave for the wars that veterans went off to fight.
David Childress, Palm Harbor
As a Vietnam veteran, I have been well treated by the VA. But while the VA system may have been relevant 50 years ago, it is not today.
We should provide each veteran with a subsidized preferred provider health insurance policy based on financial need. There would be billions in savings and most veterans would be elated. Phase it in over 10 years to ease the transition.
Michael Monaghan, Tampa
An outpouring of bay area giving May 8
A new generation of givers
We applaud Tampa Bay residents for showing up for Give Day Tampa Bay 2014, a 24-hour online giving challenge that was the first of its kind for our region. Not only did participants exceed the Give Day Tampa Bay goal by raising $1,089,359, but 384 charities were able to tell their story, raise their public profile and reach potential new volunteers.
A total of 5,144 donors supported hundreds of nonprofits in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties, representing a full range of causes from arts and education to social services and animal welfare.
The Community Foundation of Tampa Bay and the Florida Next Foundation provided the backbone of the initiative and were complemented by efforts from the Nonprofit Leadership Center of Tampa Bay and the United Way Suncoast. Local media coverage was invaluable.
We congratulate Tampa Bay. We are confident this effort will develop a new generation of philanthropists and begin building lasting relationships among all who care about elevating communities and their worthy causes.
E. Tyler Cathey and Jess Joaquin Johnson, Tampa
Amazon work 'moving quickly' | May 14
Automation threatens jobs
Several months ago it was announced with much fanfare that Amazon was building a warehouse in Riverview. Everyone was gung-ho about the promise of job openings.
Recently, Amazon announced the increased usage of robot workers in its warehouses. The company says it won't affect employment levels, but have you ever seen a business where automation doesn't allow for employee decreases?
Automation means streamlining overhead costs, and the bottom line in business is less cost means more profit.
Mick Puleo, Zephyrhills
Finding a safe driving speed May 24, letter
Consider the lives saved
I admit that I sometimes drive 75 mph on I-75 even though the speed limit is 70. Truth be told, most law enforcement officers do, too. That said, I do not favor raising the speed limit to 75 because that will simply encourage others to do 80-85 mph.
Even though accidents are caused by factors other than excess speed, why add to them? Why burn more gas when environmental concerns are at an all-time high? If only a few lives are saved at keeping the speed limit at 70 mph, it's worth keeping it there.
Carl E. Graham, Clearwater
Electric chair returns to execution debate May 24
Have we become the barbarians? On the front page of the Times is an article pondering whether we should return to the electric chair for our executions since all of civilized Europe has denied selling us drugs for lethal injection. No mention that most of the rest of the world — except the United States, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq — has abolished capital punishment.
Then turn the page and read where our military will force-feed an innocent man to keep him from committing suicide to our embarrassment. He is a detainee in Guantanamo, where he has been held for a dozen years and not charged with a crime.
Invasions of countries, assassinations with drones, overthrowing of democratic governments — the list goes on.
Each time we commit these atrocities and we don't speak out, it gives those in charge permission to continue. We enable the bully. Walt Kelly through Pogo said it best: "We have met the enemy and he is us."
Rick France, Tampa
Mayor misses mark on Pier May 17
Pier for public transport
Surprisingly absent in the renewed talk about the Pier is how the site is ideal for public transportation. In more practical times, i.e., when the Million Dollar Pier was around, both public ferries and an authentic streetcar made stops at the public pier. Its central location to the waterfront and downtown can't be beat.
Tampa Bay now has over 3 million residents and millions of annual visitors. Both downtown Tampa and St. Petersburg are going through revivals. Our bridges on the bay remain the No. 1 congestion problem. What are we waiting for?
Any global city situated on a magnificent body of water like we are has public ferry service. Most tourist-driven cities also have authentic streetcars. We have outgrown relying on the bridges and on the looper trolleys that get caught in the numerous traffic jams downtown.
Rand Moorhead, St. Petersburg