I read with interest your article regarding a Department of Defense panel’s recommendation regarding the 20-year retirement rule (“No more 20-year rule? DOD panel calls for radical retirement overhaul,” In some of the comments posted below, some people remarked that it made sense to do away with this system because 42-year-olds are still “young” considering today’s life spans.

Let me tell you what I’ve done for my country, and how it’s aged me. I’ve moved every two years, causing my spouse to abandon any hopes of ever having a long-term career. I’ve deployed and missed birthdays, anniversaries and Christmases — days I will never get back. I’ve been forced to jog regularly past ponds of human waste (and God knows what else), and burned toxins that caused me to have a chronic hack six months after I returned. I’ve suffered arthritis in my back and knees at age 32 from humping a ruck and battle rattle. I’ve stared at a perfectly formed drop of blood on my boots from a wounded buddy every day since that will not wash out. I’ve sat through countless renditions of taps for my fallen brothers and sisters, and listened to a wife’s wailing after the first sergeant’s role call.

These things have aged me far beyond years. And I’m nothing more than a rear echelon pogue.

Try telling a combat-arms soldier he hasn’t “done enough” to earn his retirement. I think I stand in the majority of those of us on active duty, those of us who have been in a wartime status the past 10 years, who beg to differ.

Sgt. 1st Class Caroline Frazier

Dugway Proving Ground, Utah

Column’s focus was flip-flop

In response to the July 26 letter “Column trivialized serious topic”: The letter writer completely missed the intent of the July 25 column “Democrats pro-choice on abortion but little else.”

The column was an opinion piece on the Democratic Party and how its members will fight for one particular right and claim it is best if the person chooses, but then turn around and limit people in their right to choice on every other topic dealing with a person’s life. Whether the letter writer agrees or disagrees with the politics behind the argument, as it is an opinion piece and not a news story, it is not a column that was meant to compare the decisions of abortion and which light bulb to buy at the store. Instead it was meant to try and convey the columnist’s view that the Democratic Party is flawed by arguing for someone’s right to choose when it comes to abortion and then flip-flopping on the next social topic and saying the party knows what is best and the people don’t get a choice.

The more important message to take away from the original column is for each citizen to take the time to examine the politicians and what their views and goals are for the way the population will be legally required to live their lives. There is not one party letter — R or D or I or whatever the tea party members will make their letter — where they view every social aspect the same. With the country going through tough times and an election upcoming, now is the time for the voters to take off any blinders they may be wearing and truly research what the various candidates have for a plan and not just what they spout off whenever a TV camera is around. As we see with “hope and change,” words mean nothing and the actions of those we elect are what needs to be paid attention to.

Capt. Phil Demme

Bagram, Afghanistan

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