Suicides surge among U.S. troops | June 8
Too many service members at risk
I am a former U.S. Marine who had three friends attempt suicide in 2011, one of whom died. It is troubling to see that the number of suicides is rising sharply, even though the military is providing more prevention resources.
The article says the reasons for the increase are not fully understood. From my experience, I agree that posttraumatic stress disorder, combat stress, financial problems, marital issues and so on play a big role.
However, military leaders also need to look at the chain of command as a reason. When junior Marines and soldiers have serious problems such as mental health issues, they can be reluctant to mention them to their immediate chain of command for fear of being harassed, belittled and demeaned.
After that occurs, these people will likely never ask for help again or share their problems for fear of being reprimanded — especially if they have never deployed. Leaders need to be held accountable for their actions and make sure that their Marines and soldiers are taken care of when the risk of suicide is present.
Jared Gilbreath, Redington Beach
Reid offers new plan on student loan deadlock | June 8
When I got my MBA 38 years ago, they defined a profit center as borrowing costs below lending rates.
Long-term Treasury borrowing costs — 30-year Treasury bonds — are 2.75 percent, while student loans earn 3.4 percent. There is no "cost" — this is one of the few moneymakers run by the government.
Why does Congress keep obscuring the facts? I know most legislators are lawyers and not businessmen, but the truth would be a nice change.
Jim Hunter, Lutz
Fiscal lessons from Walker's win June 8, letter
In our post-Citizens United world, what Gov. Scott Walker's win in Wisconsin really shows is the future of politics. Corporations and outside interests will flood a race with money for Republican candidates. Having eight times the money of your opponent means you control the media and the message. You are able to flood the airwaves with false ads touting a budget surplus that does not exist, and claiming job creation even though your state is last in job growth. In the meantime you can dismantle unions who are the biggest supporters of your opponent, leaving yourself safely insulated against opposition.
What this recall really shows is the sad future of our money-dominated politics.
Steve Harden, Holiday
To the highest bidder
A letter on June 8 said Gov. Scott Walker's win in the Wisconsin recall showed the voters' desire for "fiscal responsibility and strong leadership," but this conveniently ignores the fact that Republicans outspent their Democratic opposition by an 8-to-1 ratio, with most of the Republican money coming from out-of-state super PACs.
Thanks to those five radical activist justices on the U.S. Supreme Court (all of them Republican appointees) who have continued to cite "free speech" rights in order to obliterate restrictions on corporate money, true representative democracy is now up for sale to the highest bidders.
Joe McColloch, Tampa
Scholastic success stories
As the school year draws to a close, it is interesting to note that both the valedictorian and salutatorian of the 2012 class at Springstead High School in Spring Hill are first-generation Americans whose parents moved from South America and India, respectively, to secure the best possible education for their children, right here in the United States. This, of course, is the same United States whose public educational system is continually maligned as ineffective, inefficient and broken.
The student speeches delivered at graduation repeatedly praised 12 years of American public education, reflecting true humility for having been given the opportunity to study diligently and work purposefully toward a high school diploma.
Of far greater importance, however, was the evident joy and pride in having brought honor to their parents, a lesson learned from infancy at home, not at school.
Kathleen Long, Weeki Wachee
2012 a challenge for Pinellas Democrats June 6
Look beyond fundraising
This article on the Pinellas Democrats unfortunately relies on a superficial approach that focuses mainly on campaign financial reports filed for the first quarter of 2012 (nearly three months ago), before or shortly after many of the Democratic candidates filed to run.
Furthermore, it neglects sophisticated analysis of the dimensions of party and candidate activity beyond the Republicans' ability to raise money from those with special interests, mostly for incumbent candidates. Worst of all, it neglects to even interview key players in both parties in Pinellas County to provide an understanding of dimensions beyond early campaign contributions.
Richard Piper, Largo
$5M in red-light fines | June 8
I think your headline writer got it wrong. Admittedly the bulk of the story is about revenue, but the continuation page headline is "Cameras are getting results," and in my opinion this is the real story.
As the survivor of a red-light runner, I am gratified to learn that red light-related crashes at intersections are down a whopping 60 percent and the rear-end crashes camera opponents predicted are down 45 percent since the cameras were activated. If a hit in the pocketbook is what it takes to change a bad driving habit, so be it.
Sally F. Martin, Tampa
Detractors proven wrong
Now that the results are in for red-light camera use in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, one hopes it will silence the detractors who claimed they would cause more accidents.
After speed, the most common cause of accidents at intersections is running a red light or speeding up to get through a yellow light. Of course a very small majority of red-light runners are by mistake; the large majority are deliberate.
Now that the statistics are in and those who had claimed the cameras would cause more rear-end accidents have been proven wrong, maybe those naysayers will be silenced and we can get on with our business. In my experience the only ones who complain about the cameras are the ones who repeatedly violate the law.
Mark F. Vinette, St. Petersburg