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I think it is great that Robin Williams and crew are willing to give up their time to come visit the troops [as part of a United Service Organizations tour this month in Afghanistan]. We really appreciate it.

What is sad is how 101st [Airborne Division officials] pulled them into a room where only a select few could meet and greet them, get autographs and one-on-one photos with them — all the things that would mean something to those making the sacrifice. As for everyone else, it was no autographs, no personal photos and 12 to a picture — it was like herding cattle.

Staff Sgt. Ron Langston

Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan

Can’t act based on 6 percent

Concerning the Dec. 15 letter “Coming to terms with ‘don’t ask’ ”: I agree. If and when the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is repealed, accommodations for heterosexuals should be separate and distinct from homosexuals. Each should have separate living quarters, showers and bathrooms. Anything less is indecent, irresponsible and an infringement on rights.

Also in the Dec. 15 edition was a letter headlined “Survey is statistically sound.” The initial inference is if we do not agree with the writer we are “half-wit(s) spewing ignorance.” The Department of Defense either polled or received a 6 percent (quoted by writer) sample for the survey on the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The ramifications of an highly charged social issue and its consequences clearly define that 6 percent is not adequate. However, I am willing to compromise: The next general election — let me pick the 6 percent to vote and we can base the winner off of that.

You cannot address the concerns of all without asking all. I don’t understand why I get multiple e-mails and notices from my command requesting my response for a climate survey or health care survey, yet, with this issue — where were the notifications, where were the requests? Time for a new survey or, better yet, a required assessment for all affected.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Alan Brock

Balad, Iraq

Internet providers gouge

Are Internet service providers in Iraq getting rich at the expense of deployed soldiers? While I agree that it is a luxury to have personal Internet connections for soldiers in their living areas, it comes at what cost?

Service providers such as SniperHill and US Comz charge exorbitant fees ranging from $60 to $140 per month. These providers are granted exclusive contracts to provide Internet service and advertise service levels that are rarely if ever met.

In a zero-competition market they are free from repercussions, leaving the servicemember with little recourse. As the drawdowns in Iraq continue, there are fewer and fewer morale, welfare and recreation facilities available for soldiers, forcing soldiers to do business with these companies. It is the responsibility of Army leaders to ensure these companies uphold the standard or cancel all contracts. Under the current system we are facilitating these companies’ systematic price-gouging of deployed soldiers.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Dustin Harkness

Junction City, Kan.

A happy new tear for all

At the end of the year, you are likely to see “don’t drink and drive” messages fill every form of media. This year is no different — nor should it be.

I am 35, and was critically injured after a drunken driver hit me head-on when I was 16. I lost my driving and hearing abilities, but I can talk and walk now after years of therapy.

Along with the California Highway Patrol and others, I am determined to get the message out to stay sober when driving. When we visit schools, we show teens mock car crashes created by a drunken driver, and I tell them my injuries and rehabilitation. The mock crash makes them aware of the death and destruction of drinking and driving.

I was astonished to read the Sept. 13 Stripes Central posting “Georgia Rep: Let 18-year-old troops drink legally.” It stated that Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., wanted to allow 18-year-old servicemembers to drink alcohol at any stateside military base legally.

Is he really a lawmaker? Americans must follow laws and our military should undoubtedly do the same. Serving in the armed forces does not give them the freedom to break laws.

Please welcome 2011 maturely.

Lori Martin

Tracy, Calif.

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