Apparently, there are soldiers who feel that Iraq and Afghanistan are just remote “Club Meds” (“Md. judge: Military contractors can be sued,” article, Sept. 15). Maybe they will generate a lawsuit saying that the opposing forces were firing real bullets and indirect fire at them.

I, too, am a contractor. I smell the exact same odors from the burn pits, and I have been doing it for a lot longer than any soldiers who have been over here. I am in my seventh year in Iraq. I have not grown any extra eyes or toes. I don’t make any funny sounds when I walk.

For heaven’s sake, the people who are doing all the complaining are the ones who are often termed “fobbits.” I am certain that those soldiers (term includes Marines) who spent most of their time outside the wire would loved to have switched places with the whiners.

Is this nonsense ever gonna end?

Richard Martin

Contingency Operating Base Adder, Iraq

Money is needed elsewhere

In response to the Sept. 7 letter “Bands beneficial from start”: We are at war and will be for the foreseeable future. As the secretary of Defense pointed out, we must find ways to reduce costs to recapitalize our aging fleets. There is a great opportunity to save large amounts of money by reducing the number of military bands and entertainment shows, such as Tops in Blue and the Army Soldier Show.

That being said, I understand we are a military with traditions and that these programs are part of that. But these are tough times and we need to spend that money on much more military-necessary items.

The statement “These programs improve morale” will come up. Overall, no they don’t. Most people I know in the military agree that morale is not improved by these programs. That staff sergeant on the flight line who was deployed six months in Iraq working in 130-degree heat, or that soldier in combat a year at a time does not benefit from these programs. They will benefit from better equipment, more tools or more manning. I’ve been embarrassed as an Air Force member by people leaving during Tops in Blue shows. At an [event] a few years ago, full of command chiefs, first sergeants, and hundreds of other active-duty and retired members, there were barely two dozen still there as the show ended.

I understand the bands are looked at as our “foot in the door” for building partnerships. Really? We spend millions of dollars a year for air shows in foreign countries. Do they not suffice? Would foreign citizens rather see the Golden Knights and the Thunderbirds or a military band?

I understand and respect the talent of the members. Heck, I envy it. But we must focus on our main military mission: flying, fighting and winning our nation’s wars.

Master Sgt. William Koger

Ramstein Air Base, Germany

Disappointed after mail is lost

I’m stationed in Iraq, and I’ve been at Joint Base Balad for a few months. Before that, I was at Al-Asad Air Base, Iraq.

My wife and I were married just before I deployed, and now she’s expecting my child. She sent me several letters, my dog tags I left at the house and a package containing the only sonogram pictures we had. All of this has been lost.

Is there some private sitting in a mail room somewhere, feet propped up on my box, playing his Xbox? How could this happen? How can I track this stuff down? The package has no tracking number, because it’s nothing with tangible value. It’s completely sentimental. I’m just really hurt and disappointed in the Army for this.

Spc. Paul Allee

Joint Base Balad, Iraq

Give all free adults the choice

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” should be repealed. Any American man or woman who is ready, willing and able to serve our country should have the chance to do so.

Some of the arguments against openly gay people serving in the military were also used against women and black Americans who wanted to serve their country. All free adult citizens should have the same legal rights, and the same opportunities to serve our country.

Chuck Mann

Greensboro, N.C.

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