Letters to the Editor for Wednesday, February 27, 2008

By STARS AND STRIPES | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 27, 2008

(EDITOR’S NOTE: These are the letters that appeared in each edition of Stripes on this publication date. Click here to jump ahead to the Pacific edition letters)

Taking care of single troops

I want to respond to “Treat them all the same” (letter, Feb. 22).

The Army is constantly improving barracks life. Places such as Fort Hood and Fort Bliss, in Texas, and Fort Riley, Kan., among other bases, are building new state-of-the-art barracks. These have small kitchens, more-modern facilities for latrines and showers and the overall appearance is much better.

The Army does give us married soldiers money to eat meals. I don’t always eat in a dining facility. Sometimes I like to go out with my wife at a place off base. The lieutenant colonel [mentioned by the letter writer] doesn’t know much about being married. Getting married is not the way to make money in the Army. You have to take care of your wife. When you have kids, this is more to take care of, such as a bigger house, more food and clothes.

A lot of my soldiers live in what I would call substandard housing because they use part of their housing allowance to pay for other things — food, clothing and utilities.

The letter writer needs to look at the whole picture before saying the Army is not taking care of its single soldiers.

Staff Sgt. Michael Hood
Camp Liberty, Iraq

Here’s to Coach Jordan

I recently read “Longtime Bamberg coach dies,” (article, Feb. 20, Europe edition), on coach Charles Jordan.

You wrote many articles in which I was mentioned from 1998-2002 when I played for “Coach J” as a point guard. I made the shot that won us the championship in overtime in 2002.

I just wanted to say that, years later, Coach J still had a major impact on our lives as players and young men. He taught us valuable life lessons, but the one that stands out the most is that he always told us: “If you can give out a butt whooping, you have to know how to take one as well. If you can shake hands when you win, then you shake hands when you lose (as a gentleman).” We didn’t win all our games, but ultimately we won the ones that mattered.

The reason I was writing was to show gratitude for the article that spoke, in my mind, of one of the greatest coaches of all time. He may have been a high-school coach with an unorthodox methodology, but the impact he had on the lives of the young men he coached can still be seen today.

Even though he deserves much more than an article and a memorial service, I truly appreciate the article that was published in the paper.

Most people would measure his success by his win/loss record, but I would measure his success by the lives that were changed permanently by his attention, tough love and care (I know firsthand).

Thank you, and this one goes out to Coach Charles E. “Chuck” Jordan — our coach, our teacher, our mentor, but most of all our friend! God bless and go Barons!

Franky O. Collazo-Hernandez
DuPont, Wash.

What Scalia really said

I read the letter writer’s complaint against Justice Antonin Scalia’s views on torture (“Justice Scalia should resign,” letter, Feb. 25). I agree with the letter writer that torture isn’t right — but that was not actually what Scalia said.

Yes, the Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. But Scalia opined — correctly — that torturing someone to obtain information before a crime was committed is not the same animal at all as “punishment” for a crime that has been committed.

Scalia admittedly creates the odd theoretical scenario of a terrorist being tortured legally before an explosion, but being protected against the very same torture after the explosion, because the torture would have morphed from “interrogation” into “punishment” prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. Nevertheless, those are the kind of mind games Scalia plays.

I heard the British Broadcasting Corp. interview with Scalia, and he commented in the context of torture before an incident, not as punishment afterward.

I’m still on the letter writer’s side, though, since research seems to be against Scalia — information extracted under torture is unreliable, and we also have very few (if any) means of ensuring that the person we’re going to torture is, in fact, the right person. Scalia seems content with this hit-and-miss, “maybe we’ll get lucky” approach, which is terrible.

Nevertheless, his interpretation of the Eighth Amendment prohibition against torture cannot be lightly dismissed — if people don’t like a practice, don’t rely on the unelected Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution in ways it shouldn’t be, but demand that elected representatives change the law.

The Eighth Amendment does not say anything about cruel and unusual interrogation, so the Supreme Court should not be asked to pretend that it does.

Jerry Glover
Camp Virginia, Kuwait

Pacific edition

Compensation for ex-spouses

While I do not disagree with “Opinion: How about help for working military wives?” (Laura Dempsey, Feb. 22), I think there are several issues overlooked in her column.

First, it seems to me her column refers to wives. Not all military spouses are female — many are male. Frankly, I agree that the U.S. government should compensate spouses of military members — directly. Why not, given that [many] marriages in the military result in divorce and statistics indicated the former spouses receive 20 percent to 50 percent of the military member’s retainer benefit? Some former-spouse advocates call this a retirement pension, but that is untrue; it is a retainer benefit — retained for limited services, subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice and subject to recall. Former spouses are not.

If a spouse relocates, losing educational credits or incurring more costs associated with tuition, loses employment, is unfairly taxed or licensed (wow, four bar exams, incredible) — I agree, there should be consideration to compensate a family for these losses or undue burdens. That way, if divorced later in life (long after leaving the military), the professional spouse goes on earning a substantial income, the former military member may not be discriminated against in divorce court. It may bring divorce court awards to a level that is more evenly balanced.

Why is it that military spouses are not subject to the UCMJ? If compensation is provided, perhaps they should be.

James R. Marrs
Camp Fallujah, Iraq

Decades-old problem

I had to laugh when I read “Treat them all the same” (letter, Feb. 25).

This soldier echoes some of the same complaints I had when I was in the Army back in 1969. During my required “counseling” with the re-enlistment noncommissioned officer, I also complained about how single soldiers were treated.

Having been out of the Army now for almost 39 years, I have no idea how single soldiers are housed or treated today, but I am pretty certain it was much worse in ’69 than it is today. Still, all our service personnel deserve the best treatment the U.S. can provide them. They do a helluva job. Keep marching.

Kenneth R. Yeager
Grosshansdorf, Germany

Wearing what he’s issued

I am a Department of Defense civilian employee and I would like to add my two cents [to the civilians-in-uniform issue].

First, I am not in the Army anymore. (I did 26 years, Vietnam, active and reserve) and have more than 30 years with DOD.

I try to fit in — I wear what I was issued. I purchased name tag, DOD civilian tag and a flag to wear, like the unit I am supporting.

Even though I disagree big time with the writer of “Good change on uniforms” (letter, Feb. 13), I still defend his right to say it, but to be an armchair critic about civilian wear when there is so much more important in this world to comment on is stupid!

Gerald D. Searfass
Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan

from around the web