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December 29

Military wives

Letters index(Click on date to jump ahead)

December 29 Military wives Disciplining children Muhammad AliDecember 30 Confederate flag and hate European employment Auto parts not available Angry over parkingDecember 31 Army justice? Stop-lossJanuary 2 Freedom not free Don't deny education Cookies for soldiersJanuary 3 Shoe Box program Ration cards Gas pricesJanuary 4 Spouse's perspective Smoking cessatione

It’s 4 a.m. and the phone rings. The soldier answers and listens to the orders. The soldier’s been called to duty for the next 120 days plus. The GI rises to the occasion and prepares to embark to battle. For the wife, the battle’s just begun.

The wife — the loving warrior, the backbone of the family — now takes command of the home front as the GI passes through the threshold and proceeds to battle.

This warrior is unique. She’s brave and courageous. She assumes all the responsibilities the GI has left behind. The responsibilities and tasks are endless. The battle on the home front now begins, and the warrior assumes both parental roles. The kids rise and find that their father, the soldier, has departed once again. The warrior now begins to heal the children’s broken hearts along with any other bumps and bruises that may come from little accidents.

The warrior is challenged in planning and preparing the next strategic move for daily meals and coordinating the movement of the little troopers going to school. When the little troopers are in school, the warrior commences with job-related duties. The warrior’s profession contributes to help support the home front.

Each day, the warrior grapples with many exhausting tasks. Yet she keeps marching. As the day ends, the warrior and the little troopers are back on the home front. The warrior’s now more exhausted. But she isn’t finished and must overcome this mental and physical state.

Once again the warrior is tasked to ensure the troopers’ meals are prepared, and she tends to every little need. The warrior is challenged in manhandling the everyday maintenance of the home and must keep everything functional. She ensures that the autos are maintained for urgent deployment in case of an emergency.

At the daily mail call, the warrior receives the monthly bills. The warrior’s accounting skills are now implemented. She maintains the budget and endorses each check.

The day has now ended. The troopers are in their bunks. The warrior prays that her GI is safe and doing fine. She sleeps restlessly and keeps her guard up for the safety of their home and the little troopers.

As each new day arrives, the warrior’s daily routine is much the same. She stays aggressive. The home front needs to be maintained until her GI returns.

The military wife grapples with everyday struggles. She is committed to playing a role in the battle. When the battle is over, the soldier receives medals for heroism. The military wife — the warrior, the unsung hero — receives her returning soldier. The warrior, burdened with so many responsibilities, receives no medals for her heroic acts. In the end, if a medal for bravery, commitment and dedication existed, she’d be decorated like the soldier.

The warrior is the backbone in maintaining all facets of life while supporting the GI’s journey into battle. I thank all the military wives who support their GIs. Most of all, I thank my wonderful wife, who’s been supportive during the most trying times.

Tech Sgt. Michale D. MedinaRamstein Air Base, Germany

Discipling children

I was reading the article “Workers uncover children’s mural at Würzburg hospital” (Dec. 16) when I ran across the following statement: “It’s a rather disturbing image.” The comment was in reference to a children’s mural uncovered in a Würzburg, Germany, hospital that depicts a woman spanking a child as another child runs away.

I don’t believe that such a politically correct comment/opinion by the reporter had any place in the article. By who’s standard is spanking offensive? Is it not enough that we have to endure politically correct brainwashing and “New Age” social re-engineering in civilian society? Now our fine military personnel also have to be taught to toe the “New Age” line? I suppose the reporter has a better, proven method of child rearing? If so, he should please share it with the entire world so we can all be enlightened about how we have failed for several thousands years at child rearing and be shamed by our inability to reason for ourselves.

In a world in which young people are completely out of control, parents are at their wits’ end and society is self-destructing by way of political correctness, the last thing we need is somebody who has no new solutions to preach to our fine military and civilian populations about the evils of corporal punishment.

My father served in Germany, Vietnam, South Korea and Panama in the Army and retired from the National Guard after a total of 20 years’ service. When I was willfully disobedient as a child, he would sometimes get to the issue by way of his leather belt. He never hit me anywhere else but on the backside. He taught me discipline and the responsibility of good behavior, and I have nothing but praise for his approach. So I implore the good men and women of our armed forces to please not go the way of American society. They are truly the last bastion of old-fashioned values, common sense and honor in modern America.

Heath RandallSt. Louis, Mo.

Muhammad Ali

I usually find the “To The Troops” segments shown during AFN television commercial breaks to be a refreshing change of pace. Seeing stars such as Heidi Klum and Joe Theismann wish those in the military well is slightly more entertaining than some stiff reporter giving us another “Two-Minute Report” featuring Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld speaking to snoozing reporters. But I was shocked and disgusted at the sight of Muhammad Ali during a recent “To The Troops” segment.

For those too young to remember or who have simply chosen to ride the current wave of Ali deification, the former Cassius Clay used his fame and was used by Muslim activists in the 1960s to avoid serving in the Vietnam War. If readers want to defend Ali’s actions, that’s up to them. But it makes me ill to see tax-funded programming watched and supported by veterans that further develops the myth of Ali’s sainthood.

I hurt for all the less fortunate people who had no choice but to fight and die in Vietnam. Many came back maimed and missing limbs or eyes. And what was their welcome at airports? Spittle from the mouths of those who would deceptively claim Ali as a hero and martyr of the system.

I’m profoundly disturbed at the unbelievable insensitivity of those who make AFN programming decisions. Hopefully someone who was in Vietnam and still serves in the U.S. military has enough rank or influence on those responsible to make this stop at once. Our veterans and current soldiers deserve better than to see Ali disingenuously wishing current servicemembers well. AFN should not under any circumstances be a forum for any type of promotion of this offensive individual.

Spc. Lee RichardsonBaumholder, Germany

December 30

Confederate flag and hate

There have been several recent letters debating the Civil War and the Confederate flag. I don’t want to argue whether the war was about slavery or states’ rights. Frankly, I don’t care. No matter where one stands, the crux of the war was about slavery. Northern states didn’t want an expansion of slavery, and Southern states felt it should be up to incoming states to decide. That’s what the Missouri Compromise was about. It led to the formation of the Republican Party. The Republicans were against the expansion of slavery beyond Missouri.

The other argument was over the Confederate flag. As a black American, I can’t and won’t ever look at that flag and reflect with pride on how it came to be. The day Nathan Bedford Forrest formed the Ku Klux Klan and used that flag as a symbol, it no longer represented Southern states’ rights. It became a symbol of hate. These people fought Reconstruction. They terrorized emancipated slaves until they finally won in 1877, ushering in another form of legalized slavery called Jim Crow.

Jim Crow was more than just separate water fountains and restrooms. Under Jim Crow, blacks were never allowed to hope or dream of becoming anything more than sharecroppers or servants. Mississippi and South Carolina would often try to outdo each other to see which state could come up with the cruelest laws. Sen. Strom Thurmond left the Democratic National Convention in 1948 because President Truman gave a civil rights speech. Then Thurmond and several other Southern Democrats formed the Dixiecrats, whose main platform was segregation. It used the Confederate flag as a symbol.

Actions speak louder than words, and the acts committed under that flag speak the most to me. Every time I see that flag, all I can see is hundreds of black men on the ends of ropes. I see the image of Emmit Till’s bloated and beaten body because he supposedly showed disrespect to a white woman. As the Confederate flag waves on the state of Mississippi’s flag, all I see is Medgar Evers being shot in the back because he wanted blacks to have the right to vote. That flag does nothing but make me hear the screams of four little girls being killed in a church bombing.

Most of all, I hear the story of how my great-grandfather had to sneak out of Arkansas in 1922 because there was a lynch mob coming after him. My great-grandfather’s only crime was to challenge the white landowner over how much money he was owed for sharecropping his land.

This isn’t just history. In the last 10 years there have been several violent acts against people of color, homosexuals and non-Protestants, all under the name of the Confederate flag. That flag has meant nothing but hate and oppression for more than 100 years. It’s a disgrace that the Army has a building and a street named after Strom Thurmond in a state that still flies the Confederate flag on state property. I challenge anyone to read “Uncle Tom’s Children” and “Black Boy” by Richard Wright and tell me that the Confederate flag represents Southern pride.

Spc. Kenyatta ClayKaiserslautern, Germany

European employment

I’d like to bring to light a problem with European employment. I’ve been retired from the Army for six years and have applied for almost every open supply job in U.S. Army Europe for the last three years. I’ve been turned down for every single job except one. I’ve been told that I’m not qualified for any of these jobs because of a lack of experience and education.

I’ve been to one Marine Corps supply school, one Army supply school and an Army advanced noncommissioned officer school at Fort Lee, Va. I have 20 years’ active duty and have worked in a supply job the entire time except for basic training. I’ve since gotten a bachelor’s degree in business with a 3.0 grade point average while working full time. I also have a 40 percent service-connected disability rating.

I feel a real injustice is being done to America’s veterans when it’s impossible to get hired by the same government that asks so much of its soldiers. I’m trying to open some eyes within the ranks. Servicemembers shouldn’t expect to get a government job unless they have connections or a master’s degree.

David J. CoatesWest Columbia, S.C.

Auto parts not available

I’ve enjoyed my experience in Germany. It has been nothing but fulfilling. But there’s one issue that I can’t understand. I know we don’t have great big post exchanges like at Ft. Hood, Texas, or Ft. Benning, Ga., but AAFES has really dropped the ball on its auto parts and service department.

I have a 1995 Ford Mustang. It’s a very common American car. One would think that I’d have no problem getting a small part if I needed it, right? Wrong! Dead wrong! I needed to replace a belt and the rotor pulley the belt sits on. AAFES didn’t have them. I spent the better part of an afternoon going through all the Ford dealerships in Amberg and the surrounding areas. “No sir, we only have German Ford parts,” I was told.

We’re not talking about a transmission. A belt is a small part. AAFES said it would be glad to order it. By the way, it will take 10 working days to get here. Couldn’t it be in stock? No? Then what are these people here for anyway? What’s the point of bringing a vehicle to Germany if I can’t get the support to make repairs?

I’m just thankful it was me. I’m a single soldier who can afford to not drive if I don’t have to. The problem becomes greater when it’s a private first class with a pregnant wife and an appointment in Amberg. I now see who AAFES really works for and who it supports. It sure isn’t the men and women in uniform — just the men and women who make the policies.

Staff Sgt. Sean CookVilseck, Germany

Angry over parking

I’m writing to see if anyone knows why some individuals act like children when it comes to parking spaces in the Hainerberg area in Wiesbaden, Germany.

Recently I went to Wiesbaden Middle School to get my son for a appointment. I took whatever parking space I could since there were slim to none to choose from. While crossing the street I got the riot act from a man who informed me that, “You people need to be more considerate when parking around here.” He said I should try to find a visitors parking space. I’ve also been told that, “Just because you take some paint you get from self-help and paint you a nice parking space with your apartment number on it doesn’t make it yours.”

I’ve seen that the Hainerberg area, especially around the school, is getting its ground torn up to accommodate the growing concern of limited parking. In fact, right in front of the resident buildings, between the middle school and high school, there’s a lot of traffic. Teachers, mentors, volunteers and parents have a right to park wherever they can find a spot.

Vehicle regulations say single soldiers may have one automobile, and married couples are authorized two vehicles per household unless granted an exception to policy waiver. Maybe there wouldn’t be so much hassle trying to find parking spaces if people actually stuck to the regulations and stopped getting waivers for third, fourth and fifth cars.

Angela StinsonWiesbaden, Germany

December 31

Army justice?

AFN television brings us “JAG,” a show about superhuman Navy lawyers who defend all sailors’ legal rights, no matter how guilty the accused look.

The article “407 days and counting” (Dec. 20) tells us a story of military justice that is in every way just as hard to believe. I certainly applaud the reporter and Stars and Stripes for publishing this report on “Army justice.” The story was so unbelievable that I read it three times. Then I had my family read it.

If the article was correct, “Army justice” in this case was more like a Gestapo action rather than the treatment expected in a free country with constitutional guarantees of basic rights. I don’t know Sgt. Keith Brevard, but I wish I could help him. I will send the article to my congresswoman on the chance she might take an interest. Others should do the same. Those in the Army legal system who caused this travesty need to be removed.

I hope Stripes continues to follow this story and will use the power of journalism to expose evil, even within the military authority. I also encourage people to write or forward the article to others in authority, including those secretaries and commanders whose often-repeated Christmas messages tell us that they’re concerned about every soldier away from his family during the holiday season.

James R. WilsonRota, Spain

Stop-loss

Most people think they’re free, but are they really? This question has been running through my head since my husband was involuntarily extended in the U.S. Army. How can a person be involuntarily extended when he enlisted in a volunteer Army?

Six years ago my husband, Dennis, joined the military to help pay off student loans. Now it’s six years later. My husband was supposed to get out of the Army in January, 2003. I left Germany last summer with our children, ages 3 and 8, so my daughter could start school and I could get a job. We had been stationed in Germany for three years. I got a great job and enrolled my daughter in school.

On Feb. 22, 2002, the Army enacted stop-loss, which affected my husband’s job. The Navy, Marines, and Air Force lifted their stop-loss last summer. We honestly thought the Army would lift its stop-loss soon after. But that didn’t happen.

So now I’m in Flower Mound, Texas, with my children. We’re living with my parents because I can’t afford a home with Dennis using his housing allowance to live in Germany. My husband received orders this month transferring him to Fort Hood, Texas. This is not an ideal situation. But since Fort Hood is near Flower Mound (three hours away), it’s better than the current situation. The downside, of course, is that Fort Hood is a rapid deployment base. So if we go to war, that base goes to war first.

The stop-loss rule doesn’t sound ethical or legal. The Army is all volunteer, yet it has the right to extend my husband involuntarily in a time of peace because of what might happen in the future. My husband is no longer a volunteer. He is an indentured servant. I’ve tried to contact numerous people in the Army all the way up to the Pentagon to receive clarification on these rules. Repeatedly I’ve been told that as a spouse I’m not entitled to any answers. This goes with what the Army has told me for the past six years: “If the Army had wanted your husband to have a wife and family, it would have issued him one.”

If my husband decided to quit at a normal company, he couldn’t be told, “No, you can’t quit because we don’t have someone who can do your job.” We would laugh at the thought. So why is it that the Army can say, “Yes, you’ve completed the amount of time on your contract, but we aren’t going to let you out”? Why are soldiers not told that this is a possibility when they enlist? I was with my husband six years ago when he enlisted, and this was never mentioned as even a remote possibility.

This is destroying our family. My husband is in Germany by himself. My children and I are depressed here in Texas. This could go on indefinitely. I’ve been told my husband should be released in January, 2004, unless the United States declares a war. In that case he could be indefinitely extended. Under today’s circumstances, I have to believe a war is a distinct possibility. I believe my husband has served his promised time with honor and dignity. He has given 100 percent to the Army. But now it’s time to let him out. He deserves to start the life that we intended when we intended.

Elyce M. FranksFlower Mound, Texas

January 2

Freedom not free

When readers see this, our Christmas will be over. Our leadership team has just finished serving Christmas dinner to the troops and singing “Happy Birthday” to a woman who turned 20. They’re so young.

Our services staffs are about to kick off the “Christmas games.” We have movies, sports and fitness events, and of course extra time for the troops to call home to their wives, husbands, and kids. Some will make their calls home a little short in order to have time to make another call to mom or dad, brother or sister. They can hold onto those thoughts for only a short period. Then it’s back to fighting the war to maintain world peace and individual freedoms. As I made my rounds, I noticed the smiles and looks of pride on their faces. I couldn’t help but relish their will to do what has to be done to support the mission.

We made our way to the Special Operations ramp where the troops live, work and eat. They rarely venture off because they’re on alert “all the time.” We talked about the holiday, their homes and jobs. They said they love doing their jobs in one breath and in another how much they miss their homes and families. It takes a lot of inner strength and a strong faith in God to stay focused and maintain a balance between the two.

A call came over their intercom system — “FLASH-30.” They had to launch crew and aircraft. Somewhere in the area, help was needed. Not knowing what, when, how, or why, they all began scrambling to do their jobs. They grabbed their gear and dashed off to the waiting aircraft. In 22 minutes, they were off the ground. I felt a sense of pride in being a part of something that’s “shaping and making history,” as our commander has often said.

These men and women are doing jobs that the average American doesn’t even know exists. They’re putting their lives on the line every day and night to ensure that Americans everywhere can sit down at their tables, give thanks and enjoy the togetherness of family and friends.

There are millions of people in the United States who really don’t know what it’s taking to allow them to sit at home with their families and loved ones and enjoy the food, presents, laughter and fellowship of Christmas. Many Americans are completely oblivious to the sacrifices that are being made so they can have the freedom to celebrate the “real reason for the season.”

I want everyone to know that freedom is not free. There are thousands of active, Guard and Reserve servicemembers who are putting their lives, families, and jobs on hold to support freedom. It’s a right that many of us take for granted.

Regardless of readers’ political, religious or personal views, we want them all to remember that evil is just as powerful as good, and in some cases more powerful. It’s our response to this evil that determines our continued rights.

Chief Master Sgt. Thomas E. SmithPakistan

Don't deny education

I just finished reading the letter “Soldiers and education” (Dec. 10), and there are a few things that concern me. Why would soldiers be denied any education that may benefit them in the future, in or out of the Army? Not all people dream of making the service a lifetime commitment. An education is what a lot of servicemembers are after.

It’s ridiculous if the Army says soldiers can’t get an education because they’re unfit or over the weight standard. If people can’t meet the standards, they should be punished, but not by taking away their opportunity to get a better education. If people want to pursue their education with the GI Bill — something they paid for — then they should be left alone.

It’s ignorant to tell people they can’t educate themselves because they’re a little heavy or slow runners. I don’t really care if the finance guy is 20 pounds overweight or can’t run a six-minute mile, as long as he can get my pay correct. No individuals should be told they can’t use something they paid for.

Staff Sgt. Larry D. BinnionRAF Lakenheath, England

Cookies for soldiers

Those of us in the Stuttgart, Germany, area are fortunate to have soldiers from Task Force Keystone in our area to supplement force protection and provide an added measure of security for ourselves and our loved ones. These soldiers are from the 28th Infantry Division, Pennsylvania National Guard. They’ve obviously sacrificed a lot, both financially and emotionally, to do their duty.

Shortly after Thanksgiving I stopped by a guard shack on Patch Barracks and gave the soldiers some cookies and goodies made by my wife. I asked the soldiers if anyone else ever stopped and made similar gestures. To my astonishment, they said no. I found it hard to believe, since this particular guard shack controls access to an area where very senior personnel work.

Let’s not forget those around us during the holiday season who could use a taste of home. I’m sure many people do a lot of baking during the holidays. What would it possibly hurt to stop and give a few cookies to soldiers who are far removed from their families? I’m sure that a simple gesture of a few homemade cookies would be greatly appreciated.

Jeff DelozierStuttgart, Germany

January 3

Shoe Box programe

“To my Hero, thank you so much for risking your lives to make America a safer place. You will always be in our prayers. Love, Raquel.”

This is a letter written by a school child who took part in the Shoe Box program. These are care packages that were sent to deployed soldiers. They contained small gifts and other welcome reminders of home.

But it was this simple letter, written on pink stationery, that made a world of difference.

While our families have been sending their thoughts and prayers, and our command has been doing its best to keep spirits high while still performing the mission, it was nice to know that others were thinking of us as well.

This time of year can be lonely for us, and it’s hard to be away from our families. Raquel’s letter and all the others have lifted our spirits and are very much appreciated during these difficult times.

Thanks.

Staff Sgt. Michael MurphyCamp Montieth, Kosovo

Ration cards

Will somebody explain to me why there is still a need for ration cards here in Germany?

American cigarettes purchased either through AAFES or commissaries are more expensive than those one can purchase on the local economy. The same goes for U.S. coffee and tea. Selling American coffee and tea on the black market has gone the way of Hershey’s bars and nylons.

I don’t think one can any longer give American coffee to European-Americans. They prefer their own full-bodied brands, as do many Americans serving in Europe. I buy my regular and espresso coffees in coffee and tea specialty shops on the economy.

Alcoholic beverages range from equal pricing to being slightly less expensive, especially if the items originate in Europe (Scotch, gin, wine, etc.).

But American whiskeys and other U.S./Canadian specialties are indeed much less expensive at the Class VI. We therefore have this great administrative system set up to stop potential black marketers of Jim Beam, Jack Daniel’s, etc.

I think someone should consider getting rid of this World War II relic and give our military and civilian agencies controlling these ration cards a bit less administrative work.

Klaus-D. PaulVogelweg, Germany

Gas prices

The article “AAFES gas prices to drop again” (Dec. 29) was interesting. It was about AAFES’ take on gas prices at the pumps in U.S. Army Europe averaging $1.674 in December 2002. According to the article, military personnel will pay about 24 cents per gallon more at the pump than they did in January 2002.

According to the American Petroleum Institute, with sources quoted as both the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Labor, the nationwide average price for all types of gasoline fell a penny per gallon during the last week of November 2002, averaging $1.41 per gallon as of Dec. 2, 2002.

The price per gallon at the pump included 52 cents for crude, 47 cents for manufacturing/marketing and 42 cents for taxes. This is 12 cents per gallon less than the average annual pump price in 2001.

In December 2002, the taxes collected on a gallon of gasoline amounted to 42 cents, including 18.4 cents per gallon in federal taxes and 23.6 cents per gallon in volume-weighted average state taxes.

Does this mean that military personnel pay 24 cents per gallon more while the average consumer in the U.S. pays 12 cents per gallon less with taxes out of the picture? Readers should do the math. Does the tail (AAFES) continue to wag the dog (the military)?

1st Sgt. Billy Smith (Ret.)Wiesbaden, Germany

January 4

Spouse's perspective

This is in reference to the letter “Former spouses act” (Dec. 22). The writer missed a few reasons why an ex-spouse is awarded a percentage of a military member’s retirement pay.

First, a spouse of a military member must put her own career on hold for her husband’s. When the military member goes on maneuvers for weeks or months at a time, the spouse must adjust her schedule accordingly. That doesn’t go over well with some employers. When it’s time to PCS, which can be every two years, the military spouse quits her job, stops her advancement and starts all over again with another company. This also means starting over on the pay scale.

Second, most married military members have children. But the spouse does not live near extended family. Therefore all child care is the responsibility of the spouse. Day care is expensive. So the spouse either puts off working, has a part-time job or forfeits half of her salary to pay for day care. The spouse is not thinking of putting money away for retirement. She is trying to maintain the family household. The spouse puts her financial security on the back burner and puts the military first. The military member has a very important job that usually cannot be put on hold for family affairs. The spouse knows that and supports the military member in any way she can so the military member can complete his duties.

Third, when a divorce occurs in the civilian world, the spouse, male or female, is also subject to retirement sharing. Military life can be stressful. There is always change. The military spouse must adapt and give a lot of herself to support loved ones. A spouse who stayed married to a servicemember for at least 20 years has earned it.

When divorce happens, there are injustices on both sides. I believe the courts try to make it fair for both parties. But it’s always the side one’s listening to who is “getting the raw deal.” It takes two to make a marriage work, with give and take on both sides. I’d say that goes for divorce as well.

Cheryl CurleySeoul, South Korea

Smoking cessation

Want to quit smoking? Are you crazy? You’ve heard how hard it is and have maybe even tried quitting before. Maybe you’ve even made several attempts at quitting and you’ve still failed. Don’t give up! If you’re serious about quitting, classes are available at the Health and Wellness Center at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Many people have successfully completed the course. Classes focus more on the benefits of being a nonsmoker and less on the negative health risks and hazards of continuing to be a smoker.

I’m an ex-smoker and know how difficult it is to quit. I tried and failed to quit eight times during the 11-year period that I smoked. But I was persistent toward reaching my goal of giving up cigarettes forever. I’ve been smoke-free for almost eight years and feel better than ever.

I started smoking when I was only 14 years old. By the time I was 16, I realized that I couldn’t live without cigarettes. I always depended on cigarettes to get me through stressful situations. But it really only added to my stress and frustration.

I remember one of the times I quit. I was stationed at Camp Stanley in South Korea. I was smoking between one and a half and two packs a day and feeling miserable. I had nicotine stains on my fingers. I was really sick and hacking up quite a bit with a nasty chest cold. I was so sick of being controlled by cigarettes that I woke up in the middle of the night, opened up my wall locker and chopped up almost a full carton of cigarettes. I wanted to ensure that I couldn’t dig them back out of the garbage. I promised myself to get rid of the nasty habit once and for all.

That promise lasted for two whole days, and they were the longest two days of my life. My co-workers would agree. I was short-tempered and mad at the world, and I didn’t even know why. I finally convinced myself that I was better off smoking, and was I ever wrong.

A year and a half later, shortly after my daughter was born, I finally realized that I needed to get help to quit. I finally realized that I had to want to quit more than I wanted anything else. So I made a decision, and then I prayed about it. I had a great friend who helped me and held me accountable. I quit cold turkey. I still think about it from time to time, but I know that I’ll never smoke again. I’ll never forget how I felt that night in Korea. To reinforce my commitment, I volunteer to facilitate classes and help others break the habit. I’d like to help any readers if they’re ready to make the commitment.

Nicotine from tobacco products can be as much as 10 times as addictive as heroin or cocaine. Please don’t harass or nag someone who is trying to quit or those who don’t want to quit. It will only make them smoke more. But I challenge smokers to consider being smoke-free forever. Imagine what it would be like to be a nonsmoker and how much money would be saved. Smokers deserve to be smoke-free and they’re worth it. They should call the Health and Wellness Center and sign up for our next class.

Staff Sgt. Shawn BurkeSmoking cessation facilitatorRamstein Air Base, Germany

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