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I was dismayed and offended that Stars and Stripes ran on the Aug. 30 front page a graphic comparing casualty statistics from the Department of Defense and third-party groups, titling it “When will the grim milestone [of 2,000 U.S. deaths in Afghanistan] be reached?”

Stars and Stripes readers — many of whom are fighting in Afghanistan — turn to this newspaper for in-depth reporting about the war and its impact on the lives of servicemembers, veterans and their families. To have this paper feature an insensitive graphic that reduces the decadelong conflict into a question of statistics is a slap in the face to all those who have put their lives on the line for this country.

Our fallen servicemembers are not numbers. They are heroes, and Stars and Stripes did them a great disservice by featuring such a callous graphic in the way it did.

The DOD takes care to report the names of every fallen hero following notification of next of kin. Their names and biographical information are available at https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/dcas/pages/main.xhtml.

George Little

Acting assistant secretary of defense for public affairs

Arlington, Va.

Fix student housing allowance

Regarding the Aug. 31 article “Romney promises vets better VA if he’s elected” (Mideast and Europe editions): Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is proposing to decrease the benefits backlog with the Department of Veterans Affairs. The issue I want to bring up, and I think it is great what he is doing, is that I hope he sees the struggle that overseas military students endure with housing allowance and online education.

Being a veteran myself and having been stationed overseas, I had no other choice but to enroll in an online college, since the few colleges offered on base did not have my degree plan. There used to be no housing allowance issued to online students, and now they issue it, but only a national average, which is significantly less than the norm.

I went to University of Maryland University College on base until I got my two-year degree and my housing allowance was based on the European standard. European costs of living are higher, and I am currently struggling because I am now an online student pursuing my bachelor’s degree with a school in the States and working for the Department of Defense overseas.

A lot of my peers and others to whom I speak day to day share this struggle. I only hope whoever wins the presidential election will question and fix this issue as well as the backlog issue with the VA. For those who are military students overseas, it should be allowed for us to be issued a housing allowance that is calculated by where we are living geographically regardless of whether we are going to school online or face to face, and this should apply to veterans who are overseas and in the States as well.

Renee Palermo

Ramstein Air Base, Germany


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