Afghan immigrants will make us better
August letter of the month
As a Vietnam vet I feel empathy for my brothers and sisters who served in Afghanistan. I remember the feeling, watching Vietnamese hang from the skids of the helicopters evacuating the American Embassy in Saigon. Now the pundits and public try to dissect the situation for blame. I’m over the blame game already. It was a bipartisan national mistake. So, what does the future hold? I’m here to point out that while the suffering we’ve witnessed this past week has been horrible, there is at least one bright ray of hope. My recovery came when I thought about the Vietnamese who surround me. (Full disclosure, my sister-in-law is Vietnamese.) Several times each week on my morning walk I pass a Vietnamese church. We also have a majestic Buddhist temple largely built by the Vietnamese. We see the Vietnamese markets and who among us has not met successful, kind Vietnamese who make such a great contribution to our community? Many are doctors, dentists and other professionals. I see these wonderful people making St. Petersburg a better place to live. I was not a sucker, nor were the men and women who went to Afghanistan. The wave of refugees to come will enhance, not diminish, us. We should not bring the Afghans here out of simple guilt. We should rejoice in the work ethic and appreciation the Afghans will bring to our nation. They will make us better.
Lee Nolan, St. Petersburg
The Guardians ad Litem program
As Guardians ad Litem, our goal is to connect vulnerable children and families with the services and supports they need. That’s why we remember September is National Suicide Prevention Month. The Guardian ad Litem program represents abused, abandoned and neglected children in dependency court. Children and teens in foster care are two and a half times more likely than other youth to seriously consider suicide, and four times more likely to try it. Suicide prevention is part of mandatory training for staff and volunteer advocates. A volunteer will get to know the child and visit and support them throughout the case. They provide information and recommendations to judges as part of our multidisciplinary team, which includes a social worker and an attorney. They are trained to identify the suicide warning signs and help children and teens in crisis receive options to cope with anxiety and depression. Another key to children’s recovery from trauma is having a stable, caring adult in their lives. Guardians are consistent role models they can trust to act in their best interests. We have seen the difference a mentor can make in a child’s life. You can help. To learn more about becoming a Guardian ad Litem volunteer, please call 1-866-341-1425 or visit www.guardianadlitem.org. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text 741-741 to contact a free, trained crisis counselor.
Calvin Martin, Tallahassee
The writer is chief innovation officer of Florida Guardian ad Litem.
We both had abortions
Florida might be next to limit freedom of choice | Editorial, Sept. 3
There’s a Portuguese saying that my wife uses to describe me: “You have your butt to the moon.” It means that I’m very lucky, a trait that runs in my family. My grandmother has also been very lucky in her life. We have many things in common, but one of the most surprising is that we’ve both had illegal abortions. She was 17 years old. It was before Roe v. Wade, and the man who got her pregnant was much older. At his insistence, he arranged for her to get an abortion with a local doctor, who scolded her during the procedure. Even at 90, she feels that stigma. I was 22 years old, traveling in Colombia. When I realized I was pregnant in Bogota, I had no desire to have a child. Abortion was and is illegal in Colombia except in instances of rape, medical complications or incest. I went to the first place that a friend suggested. It happened to be a legal facility. The doctors and nurses, while risking their livelihoods, treated me with the utmost respect. Lucky is sometimes another word for white privilege. What do these two stories have in common? We were both vulnerable but benefited from several types of privilege and were both treated by licensed medical doctors who were committing a crime. The abortion ban in Texas will disproportionately affect people of color and the poor. These types of bans do not stop abortions. They make them more dangerous.
Gillian Seymour, St. Petersburg
The right decision
Supreme Court silent on Texas’ new abortion law | Sept. 2
Thank you, Texas, for telling the world that a human life is worth even more than the whale and manatee. How many future dedicated physicians, nurses, teachers, statesmen, leaders, laborers, taxpayers and many other categories of present short-handedness were snuffed out in the 60 million lives destroyed from abortion since 1973′s greatly misguided Roe v. Wade decision?
Larry Goodman, Temple Terrace