September 1

Squeaky wheel gets grease

Letters index(Click on date to jump ahead)

September 1 Squeaky wheel gets grease DU munitions still unhealthy Brought to tears by Bush

September 2 Anger alone doesn’t fix it … … and race is just one factor

September 3 Apples and oranges in column What’s apparent to parents Something about editing … … that smacks of censorship

September 4 Five-year rule’s big lie Racial representation sound It’s all written down

September 5 Support lacking from services Rule hurts at chow hall

September 6 Give K2 builders some credit

September 7 How to help starving children Adult conduct also suspect Again, APO is a no-go

To letter writer Todd Warren, who thinks he knows all about the challenges that face a 2nd Infantry Division spouse (“Choice was partly hers,” Aug. 5): If you are not a member of the 2ID family then you have no clue about our situation. Please do not speak about the stress of separation and single parenting until you live it every day for two years.

I am in South Korea to support my husband and his career as I have done numerous times. You’re right, we made the decision together, just as we decided to buy a car together. I am trying to point out a regulation that is biased. Does my husband need power of attorney from me to register our car? No, that would be absurd. All I’m saying is either make the system work both ways or eliminate it. Stop treating spouses as if we’re invisible.

Your reaction is exactly the kind of thing I should have expected. Your attitude is the reason for the recent Stripes article “Spouses: Domestic counseling not encouraged.” Spouses aren’t supposed to rock the boat, are we, ladies? Well, Mr. Warren, I will rock the boat and I will complain about every regulation and hurdle that is put before me that affects my quality of life on whatever Army post we are stationed. Speaking out is how things are made better for future personnel.

You’re obviously happy with every aspect of your 11-year experience. That’s great! But don’t sit back and criticize me for having the guts to speak out about something that needs to be changed. It’s people like me who are willing to argue that allow people like you to have no complaints. And if that labels me a whiner, then so be it. No thanks necessary.

Debbie SwopeYongsan Garrison, South Korea

DU munitions still unhealthy

As the probability of war in Iraq escalates, it is imperative that we refrain from again using depleted uranium munitions during combat because of the serious adverse health and environmental consequences. Following the Gulf War, I was tasked to clean up the DU friendly fire mess and then became the Army’s DU project director from August 1994 through November 1995.

Although training and operational readiness are essential, my primary concern is for medical care of all exposed individuals. I and other physicians assigned to the 3rd U.S. Army Medical Command immediately issued verbal and written orders following the completion of the ground war to provide medical care for all individuals who were exposed to DU. A message from Headquarters, Department of the Army dated Oct. 14, 1993, officially specified the exposure conditions requiring medical care. They are:

¶ being in the midst of smoke from DU fires resulting from the burning of vehicles uploaded with DU munitions or depots in which DU munitions are being stored;

¶ working within environments containing DU dust or residues from DU fires; and

¶ being within a structure or vehicle when it is struck by DU munitions.

It has been 11 years since the extensive use of depleted uranium munitions during the Gulf War. This was followed by use of DU in the Balkans, on Vieques, Puerto Rico, in preparation for combat use in the Balkans, on Okinawa and on many military installations around the world. Visual evidence, personal experience and published reports verify that:

¶ Medical care has not been provided to all DU casualties — even though many men, women and children are sick and too many have died.

¶ Environmental remediation has not been completed.

¶ Contaminated and damaged equipment and materials have been recycled to manufacture new products.

¶ Training and education have only been partially implemented.

¶ Contamination-management procedures have not been distributed and implemented.

Consequently, if we use DU munitions again in contaminated areas or in any new locations, we will cause additional health problems and environmental contamination. As a scientist, educator and military officer who was given the responsibility by U.S. Army officials to clean up the DU mess, I must issue the following recommendation: Do not use depleted uranium munitions again.

Doug RokkeRantoul, Ill.

Brought to tears by Bush

When I think of Sept. 11, I recall the shameless exploitation of tragic events by an unpopular “president” who could suddenly justify his tax cut, a huge military buildup, a looming war in Iraq, and the suppression of information and documents in the name of “security.” Oh, plus restrictions on the First, Fourth and Sixth amendments of our Constitution, a Justice Department being granted spying powers rivaling those of Communist Russia, and an oil pipeline being OK’d through Afghanistan.

I also remember how in the ’90s, the GOP voted against freezing terrorists’ assets (as it would be too “onerous” for the banking industry and those offshore business accounts), and against Al Gore’s proposals for tightening airline security and screenings. I contemplate President Bush and Vice President Cheney sitting on the Hart-Rudman report, as well as information from outgoing Clinton staffers warning of a potential terrorist threat, for nine months.

Then, I weep.

Dean BackusSan Jose, Calif.

September 2

Anger alone doesn’t fix it …

This is in response to Elder Leanon Trawick’s Aug. 29 letter on the five-year rule (“A slant on the five-year rule”).

First, it was difficult to decide what he was upset about. He managed to severely criticize the five-year rule, white people, retired officers and local nationals with equal ferocity.

It is sad to realize that someone with his attitude actually works for the U.S. government, and in a foreign land where the local nationals will identify him as a typical American. I can only assume that his demented letter was the result of being told that his five years were completed and he had to go home. Mr. Trawick could never guess that his negative, bitter attitude might be the cause of his troubles. In his current state of mind, his attitude would not enhance, improve or benefit any working environment.

He appears to fit the definition of the “Ugly American.” And what a shame. President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell are trying to build international coalitions to seek peace, safety and security in lands where there is mistrust, inhumanity and senseless violence. Our combat troops are being called upon to help rebuild total societal infrastructures, and this person cannot understand the reasoning for working side-by-side with local nationalities. Now maybe we can understand where the expression “Yankee go home” came from.

If it is true that attitudes govern actions, then Mr. Trawick is a menace to everyone he works with, and is especially detrimental to our relations with foreign nationals. While we are trying to find the “bad guys,” we find that we have one among us. I do not claim that everything is right and as it should be within the U.S. government, but it is a heck of a lot better than many other places.

Mr. Trawick would have us believe that the race issue is his alone, but not true. Gen. Robert E. Lee said that any kind of racial discrimination “is a moral and political evil in any society, a greater evil to the white man than the black.” On a more contemporary level, witness President Truman’s enforcement of civil rights in the armed forces.

Angry, violent, bitter leadership accomplishes very little. I challenge Mr. Trawick to become a progressive leader who can use a whole menu of positive initiatives to change the system. It is so easy to criticize and so difficult to take responsibility for making things happen. Leadership requires character, credibility and a positive belief in both yourself and the objectives at hand. Good leadership should eliminate nonproductive attitudes, not enforce them; and leadership should develop effective means of conflict resolution, not create more troubles.

Mr. Trawick faces a big challenge. He needs to be careful because sometimes a little bit of bad erases a whole lot of good.

Clifton J. JesterKadena Air Base, Okinawa

… and race is just one factor

I’ve never read a letter that begs for a rebuttal more than Elder Leanon Trawick’s “A slant on the five-year rule.” I am a 21-year U.S. Army retiree (white) who does not work for the federal government. As a longtime resident here in Japan, I visit the bases regularly and have become friends with many U.S. government employees. I also have seen many of these people leave their jobs and friends to return to the States for no other reason than what I consider to be a stupid rule.

Government employees for the most part are dedicated to their jobs far beyond what is expected in the civilian world. I have seen them working in the evenings and weekends — not occasionally but all the time. Mr. Trawick seems to think that all management positions should be a particular color or race and then the world would be fair. I can assure him that the U.S. government — with all its power and regulations guarding against the exact scenario he describes — is not allowing a “Southern good ole boy” connection to operate within its pervue.

I also can assure Mr. Trawick that, through the government’s minority quota system, a balance is struck to ensure that type of thing doesn’t get a foothold in the system. Has a white guy ever given another a job? You bet! That is a double-edged sword that cuts both ways, and I’ve seen minorities do the same thing. That doesn’t make it right: It only confirms that it happens sometimes and we are all subject to human frailties.

Vigilance on Mr. Trawick’s part is to be applauded, but playing the race card indicates he hasn’t done his homework and needs to back up his assertions with statistical studies and not just what he perceives.

Randall BaileyZama City, Japan

September 3

Apples and oranges in column

The Aug. 27 column “U.S. can’t conceive of granting due process” by Colbert I. King of The Washington Post was not only offensive, but ridiculous. Mr. King’s idea of comparing the barbaric penalty of the Nigerian courts against a poor single mother with the detaining of potential war criminals is shocking. But of course, that was Mr. King’s goal. There is no comparison between the two cases. Nigeria’s Islamic court under the Muslim sharia law demonstrates why our government wisely chose to separate church and state.

The condemnation of the mother to death by stoning is barbaric. No one should condone it as Mr. King did implicitly by saying the court’s “decision was heard on appeal by an upper sharia court, also in predominately Muslim northern Nigeria.” By Mr. King’s logic, the majority should rule no matter what. So in my hometown, which is predominantly conservative Christian, we should be the ones who determine the laws. But our Constitution guarantees the rights of the individual. Nigeria is denying this woman’s basic human right to life. And that is something that every thinking person should condemn.

There is no comparison with the case of the two detainees. By taking up arms against the United States, they come under the purview of the law of war. Mr. King’s comparison is idiotic. But this type of rhetoric is typical of left-wingers who really couldn’t care less about the fate of that poor woman in Nigeria. Mr. King is only concerned with his liberal agenda.

Steven D. MartinezVilseck, Germany

What’s apparent to parents

I’ve been in the U.S. Army for about three years now, and I can honestly say that I’ve learned a lot. Unfortunately, some lessons come in ways that they should not. Specifically, I’ve learned a lot about parenting. My wife and I have no kids yet. But living on New Argonner Kaserne in Hanau, Germany, has brought me one step closer to being a good parent.

What will it take for parents in the military to keep a better eye on their kids? Just two weeks ago, a young child rode her bike out and hit my wife’s car as she was driving through the housing area. My wife was driving at a safe speed and watching to make sure there were no kids around. But it was to no avail. The child came out from in front of a parked sport utility vehicle and struck the rear of my wife’s car. Luckily, the worst thing that happened was the car got a scratch and a flat tire. If this would have happened a few seconds earlier, the girl could have been struck by the front of the car and seriously injured.

It’s sad to say, but it seems to me that it will take something like that to make parents open their eyes. Which parent is ready to deal with a dead child because he couldn’t teach the child proper respect for traffic?

Driving through every day, I deal with kids who ride bikes in the middle of the road and don’t move for cars. There are also skateboarders who ride straight through a stop sign in front of cars, and kids in the middle of the street playing with each other. They don’t move until a car literally stops and honks for them to move.

On top of that, children play around parked cars with bikes, water guns and many other toys that could easily scratch cars or break windows. I have to tell a different child every day to move away from my car and go play somewhere else. I will not tolerate my brand-new car being scratched up because children won’t play in the designated playground areas.

There will probably be letters knocking me because I have no kids. But I don’t need kids, because I watch all the parents’ kids in New Argonner on a daily basis. I’m not asking for a lot. All I’m asking is that parents teach their kids respect for traffic and make them play in designated areas. Next to my $20,000 car is not a place for children to play. If this letter keeps one kid from being injured or killed, then it has served its purpose.

Spc. Kenneth W. SalleeHanau, Germany

Something about editing …

I know American Forces Network television gets a lot of heat about its programming, but I couldn’t let this one go.

On Aug. 26 at about 7:30 a.m., as I was changing into my battle dress uniform after physical training, I turned on AFN and found that it was showing the movie “There’s Something about Mary,” a comedy that came out a few years ago. The movie showed the two main characters sitting on a car while watching a sunset and smoking a marijuana cigarette. The scene ended, and AFN then went directly to an announcement telling parents to monitor what their children watch on TV.

AFN shouldn’t be showing movies like this in the morning when most children in Europe have TVs on while getting ready for school. The scene in question is in poor taste for kids and undermines the hard work of parents, teachers and law enforcement agencies to keep drugs away from kids. I don’t think AFN can deny that there is something else it could be airing at this time. The announcement after the scene was just another ironic twist to the ongoing struggle with AFN and its programming.

I think AFN officials should actually sit down and watch what they put out there. And while they’re at it, they should have someone fix the sound on the AFN Pacific channel in Heidelberg, Germany. It hasn’t worked for nearly three weeks.

Cliff OliverHeidelberg, Germany

… that smacks of censorship

I read a letter from a soldier a few months ago regarding the censoring of the movie “Monster’s Ball.” Apparently the Army and Air Force Exchange Service isn’t the only organization that is censoring. Last month the film “Boyz N the Hood” was on American Forces Network television, and there were countless parts either cut out or edited. The following day the movie “The Bad News Bears” was aired. Yet there were several curse words that AFN neglected to edit out. I think it’s ironic that AFN can edit an R-rated movie, yet can’t edit a children’s movie.

Recently AFN aired the movie “There’s Something About Mary,” and it was edited. It seemed that there were more black screens with something clever to say than actual movie scenes.

If the personnel at AFN have so much time on their hands that they can come up with these clever sayings instructing us to “ask a friend what is going on,” why don’t they just spend the time finding movies that are proper for us? Maybe “The Sound of Music”? But that was set during a war, so that would never work. “The Wizard of Oz”? No, they would have to edit the Wicked Witch out so there were no “satanic scenes.” We viewers clearly are not capable of handling such a tedious task as finding a show or movie that doesn’t contain atrocious violence and sexual scenes, let alone cursing.

AFN boasts of how it does not edit the content of its programming. It even has a commercial about it, although I don’t know why it bothers. This is simply ridiculous. At what point did we lose the right to decide if something is too vile for us to watch? Parents are, or should be, responsible enough to regulate what their children watch. But adults don’t need this assistance. Soldiers, sailors, airmen and their spouses don’t need to be protected from the “evil” of television.

Carolyn MadridFriedberg, Germany

September 4

Five-year rule’s big lie

When I read Elder Leanon Trawick’s Aug. 29 letter “A slant on the five-year rule,” I agreed with almost everything he said. The only exception is that the five-year employment rule has no color barrier. I have had plenty of white friends who are no longer here with us. A lot of managers and supervisors have used the five-year rule as a tool of mass destruction. The five-year rule has been implemented toward the lower pay grade employees more so than the higher-ups.

Let’s be real. Every civilian knows that a lot of GS-13s and above are working for at least a full bird or light bird colonel. If a full bird wants an employee to stay, he stays, point blank. There are ways around the five-year rule, such as making employees’ positions hard to fill. This exempts GS-13s and up from the five-year rule. Anybody who says otherwise is full of it. I’ve seen it firsthand. GS-6s and below aren’t afforded the same opportunities as GS-15s.

Now let’s take a look at the real problem. The Department of Defense claims that stateside employees have to come overseas for career advancement. This is a bunch of baloney. Does the DOD think that we are all morons? It’s preposterous to think that stateside employees must come overseas or they would be unable to advance in their careers. Do readers think some midlevel employee at Microsoft is forced to come to Germany to “better or advance his or her career”? I don’t think so.

When one gets down to the bottom of the pot, it all comes back to this: Some bigwigs back in States invented this five-year rule so they could basically get a free vacation to tour Europe. I can picture a group of fat cats sitting in their high and mighty offices overlooking the Potomac:

“Hey Bill, I really wish I could take the wife to Italy, but I just don’t have the time with my job and such.”

“Hey, I have an idea,” says Ted. “Let’s move our jobs to Europe for, like, five years or so.”

Bada-bing, bada-bang, five-year rule. Regardless of what type of spin is put on it, sending people back to the States is a big fraud. The millions of our hard-earned tax dollars being spent makes me sick. The entire process is riddled with favoritism and revenge. This policy has made a lot of subpar supervisors and managers into demigods who hold the ultimate weapon of mass destruction — no, not a scorned woman, but the five-year rule.

Stephen MaloneKaiserslautern, Germany

Racial representation sound

I just read the Aug. 29 letter “A slant on the five-year rule,” and I’m appalled by the writer’s utter disregard for the truth in relation to the role of minorities in the U.S. military and in federal civilian service.

The writer claimed that “every position of responsibility previously held by minorities [has been] filled by a Southern white man and every position held by a white man is replaced by a Southern man.” Where on Earth did the writer get his data? Certainly not from any credible source of information that provides legitimate statistics regarding minority employment within the Department of Defense.

According to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Force Management Policy) summary report of November 2001, African-Americans are equitably represented in the military overall and minorities, as a whole, appear to be proportionately represented and not on the decline within the commissioned officer corps. Eight percent of officers are African-American, which is closely in line with the ratio of African-Americans in the civilian population of 13 percent. African-Americans make up 16 percent of warrant officers and were even found to be “over-represented” in the Reserve Component. The report also said that while minorities compose proportionally less of the officer corps, their representation levels are in keeping with the minority statistics among the pool of college graduates from which second lieutenants and ensigns are drawn.

The letter writer also made the unsupportable claim that “all senior civilian positions are held by whites.” This is a grossly inaccurate statement. According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, minorities make up just under 20 percent of all GS 13-15 positions. In addition, the OPM reports that minority civilian employment has increased 79.6 percent from 1990 to 2000. The OPM further reports that 30 percent of total federal civilian employees are minorities, with 17 percent of those being African-American.

These statistics graphically demonstrate that minorities, and African-Americans in particular, make up a significant percentage of the federal civilian and military work force on every level, including the highest levels of management. These statistics are a testament to the commitment of the U.S. government to pursue equal opportunities for all Americans.

I find it despicable, particularly during these uncertain times, that there are still those who would proffer half-truths, embellishments and falsehoods to perpetuate a political agenda that is incompatible with the goal of team-building within our military and civilian ranks and is potentially detrimental to our ability as a nation to effectively fight the war on terrorism.

Lisa SnoddyLondon

It’s all written down

The five-year employment rule is not racist, as was claimed in the Aug. 29 letter “A slant on the five-year rule.” I work in an organization that has recently lost nearly all of its former U.S. work force of hundreds due to the rule’s implementation. Black, white, Hispanic, male, female, young, old, newcomer, old-timer, whatever. They all came under the ax. There were no exceptions offered and less than a handful granted, and only for very limited extensions.

Our own “five-year rule” policy reads: “The length of your initial tour in Germany is ordinarily three years. Tour extensions are NOT automatic nor are they an entitlement. The first extension, to the five-year point, must be requested by your supervisor and agreed to by you. DOD policy on rotation of civilian employees restricts any tours beyond five years for most civilian employees, other than those employed as family members. ALL DOD appropriated-fund employment in the overseas area counts toward that five-year limit, regardless of agency. The requirements for extension beyond five years are mission related.”

One of the letter writer’s comments is well worth repeating: “Why is every position of responsibility previously held by minorities filled by a Southern white man, and every position held by a white man is replaced with a white Southern man?” There is nothing about “Southern white men” in our own organization’s policies regarding hiring or the five-year rule. Perhaps where the writer works it’s different. If not, and I expect it isn’t, the writer should be reprimanded and counseled for implying such.

The world is not as “black and white” as the letter writer believes, and certainly not in the U.S. government. I encourage the writer to meet and support his command’s policies. As a pastor and a chapter president of the NAACP, I expect him to be a leader and keep expressions of vitriol to his private life.

Robert StewartIncirlik Air Base, Turkey

September 5

Support lacking from services

An Army medical team is being sent to Fort Bragg, N.C., to probe the recent domestic killings and suicides allegedly involving soldiers. I don’t find it odd that the government is trying to link this to a “pill.” Why doesn’t the government realize that maybe it isn’t a “pill” that causes these things? Maybe it’s the lack of emotional and psychological support — help that the military fails to offer its soldiers and families in their times of need.

If readers were to look back throughout the years, these are not the first incidents of domestic violence at Fort Bragg that have led to deaths. The Army is renowned for its family support, but a lot of us have yet to see this occur. I’ve been married for 10 years to a soldier who has served 19 years, and I’ve yet to receive a phone call of support or an offer of assistance from anyone. I’ve only gotten calls asking for volunteers at a bake sale or fund-raiser.

Barbie NixonHeidelberg, Germany

Rule hurts at chow hall

The Aug. 29 letter “A slant on the five-year rule” brought to light an issue that many people were unaware of. The part of the letter that hit close to home for me was about food service workers. Because of the five-year rule and other factors, the hiring of food service workers is at an all-time low. There are simply not enough people to fill the positions once family members PCS or workers return to the United States under the five-year rule.

The situation is now so critical that we have commanders wanting to know why their dining facilities are not properly staffed.

As we all know, sanitation is very important with dining facilities, not to mention the health concerns involved. Making food service positions exempt from the five-year rule would not only save the government thousands of dollars, it would also help alleviate the problem that many base support battalions are now experiencing.

If the truth were told, there are really not many food service positions stateside. Most, if not all, of the work is performed by contract employees, not government employees. This is something that really needs to be looked at by the officials who can make a change.

Ernest MeadowsDining facility attendant managerGiessen, Germany

September 6

Give K2 builders some credit

I was extremely surprised and disappointed to see the article “AF rethinks how it builds bases overseas” (Aug. 21).

Stars and Stripes reporter Marni McEntee quoted a senior Air Force officer as saying he was embarrassed for the Army engineers constructing K2, an Army airfield in Karshi-Kalabad, Uzbekistan.

In contrast, the Air Force work at Manas, Kyrgyzstan, is “obviously right.” I’m surprised, because neither the reporter nor any person identified and/or quoted in the article has been to K2, seen our master plan, proposed military construction, or talked with the leadership team at K2. In fact, on several occasions the original K2 leadership team solicited Air Force help with participation in base design and construction. I’m unaware of a single input not incorporated into plans and activities.

Today, just 10 months from inception, K2 Army, Air Force and Marine leadership is joined at the hip — making decisions in joint meetings, after thorough staffing and with disciplined management controls.

As good as K2 is, we are capturing lessons learned and getting better every day.

By describing K2 as “an embarrassment and an example of what doesn’t work,” the reporter and comments attributed to senior leaders did a tremendous disservice to the almost 10,000 soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen who have supported or are still supporting Operation Enduring Freedom at K2.

It also risks introduction of interservice rivalry that is not currently present.

Like the reporter and the officers quoted in the article, I have not been to both bases. Nor can I address why these officers hold K2 in such low regard. The reporter failed to identify a single item suggesting what is wrong with K2.

I can state emphatically that K2 meets the requirements of Operation Enduring Freedom and the intent of the commander, CJTF-180.

By geographic location alone, it’s clear that the K2 and Manas missions are different. Design requirements and resource restrictions necessarily make these two bases an apple-to-orange comparison.

I have no doubt those responsible for Manas are doing an admirable job. As for K2, I’ll let evidence and servicemembers speak for themselves.

Without exception, when U.S. Air Force aircrews have the luxury of choosing where to eat and bed down, they do it at K2 because, in their words, “It’s the best base in the AOR.”

Lt. Col. Jon J. MillerBase commanderStronghold FreedomKarshi-Khanabad, Uzbekistan

September 7

How to help starving children

It was a nice try by the writer of the Aug. 31 letter “They’re starving for attention.” He seemed to try to elicit feelings of guilt and responsibility for starving children from people like me, citizens of the “rich countries” he said could be “possibly responsible for the crime.” Please give me a break.

The people responsible for the world’s starving children are the children’s parents and the citizens of their respective countries. Parents who cannot afford to feed their children should practice birth control. Many don’t since they hope their children will one day be their caretakers in their old age. So they try to have as many children as they can, not worrying too much about how to feed them or care for them.

These parents and the citizens of their countries need to become educated in birth control, agricultural techniques, and political, social and economic institutions that create enough food and distribution of the same. This would ensure that the children of their countries are fed properly.

They also need to ensure that their elderly are taken care of, whether they have children or not, so their populace will not have children just to ensure their survival and comfort in their old age.

The key to solving the problem of starving children is education and dispelling the ignorance of the populations in the countries where the children live. Most people wallowing in poverty, ignorance and starvation are the architects of their own existence. To blame those who are not wallowing in the same for their plight is ridiculous and not productive to achieving any solution.

We have to continue to educate and train people to help themselves. Many do not wish to change and help themselves. They are lazy, lack initiative and, like the letter writer, find it easier to blame others for their plight. To take on the responsibility of feeding these people would actually make the problem worse. They would become dependent on this food instead of learning to help themselves. The populations would then increase, and we’d have more mouths to feed. And in their continued ignorance, the entire populations of such countries would continue to believe that the “rich countries” owe them — not just food now, but a standard of living equal to what the “rich countries” have. So then we’d have to supply them with housing, clothes, entertainment, etc., as well as food.

Some schools in Third World countries are actually teaching their children that the reason they are in poverty is because the United States and other rich countries consume most of the world’s resources, including finished goods and services, leaving little or nothing for them. What a crock. We consume most of the world’s resources because we create most of the world’s resources. People who are in poverty invariably don’t create much in the way of resources, so there is not much for them to consume. They need to learn how to work with themselves and with technology to create the resources they desire instead of blaming their plight on others.

For those who suffer from temporary problems of famine and hunger due to droughts, etc., there is always plenty of help out there to temporarily alleviate their problems if the citizens are willing to cooperate with international organizations that provide such relief. But this isn’t always the case, and the citizens of such countries do sometimes starve. (Remember Somalia in the early 1990s and North Korea today?) But once again, to blame the “rich countries” is unfair and untrue, and it does nothing to achieve a long-term solution to this problem.

Matthew J. BrandstetterAviano Air Base, Italy

Adult conduct also suspect

There have been a lot of grievances written lately about big problems in military housing areas, such as children screaming and playing unsupervised in housing area parking lots. I have a similar grievance, only mine is not about children. Mine is about some of the adults occupying government housing who apparently need about as much supervision as children.

For example, there is a woman who screamed during what I guess was an argument so loudly that a few of her neighbors were afraid she was being beaten or worse. After the military police were alerted, the woman attempted to “blacklist” the individual who she groundlessly suspected of having called the MPs.

Another favorite is the so-called “assistant building coordinator” who preaches to high heaven about area standards such as the bulk trash areas, even to the point of wanting to get the post’s sergeant major involved. Yet large lakes of oil are left all over the parking lot by that individual’s privately owned vehicle, causing a potential hazard for all those unsupervised children I read about.

Another instance that sticks out in my mind are the harassing phone calls that are made to another resident whose husband is 1,000 miles away in Kosovo. The calls contain such intelligent remarks as, “You better watch your back” and, “You better find new friends, ’cause you have none here.”

For the past two and a half years I’ve considered the Schweinfurt, Germany, community to be great, and I still do. Yet it’s no wonder to me why there is an issue with children when some of the “adults” can’t play right and set this kind of example.

Sgt. Brandon HawkinsCamp Bondsteel, Kosovo

Again, APO is a no-go

With the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks quickly coming, I thought the American people would be interested in how one company is treating our military servicemembers overseas. I’m stationed overseas serving two separate bases, AFNORTH in Brunssum, the Netherlands, and Geilenkirchen NATO Air Base, Germany.

Since the end of last month I’ve been trying to order a computer over the Internet from The first problem with the company was that it would not send its product to an APO. I have heard from other military members who said there are a few companies that refuse to ship to APOs, so I wasn’t too upset. Being stationed overseas, having items shipped to an APO is the only way we can purchase from U.S.-based Internet and catalog companies.

So I contacted my parents in Massachusetts, and they agreed to have the computer shipped to them and then pay again to ship it to me at my APO address. I went online again and ordered my computer. But low and behold, I got a message that the company will not accept an overseas credit card. My VISA card is from Andrews Federal Credit Union, a credit union based in Suitland, Md. (This is according to the information on the back of my card.) It was issued from a military installation in Schinnen, the Netherlands. I have used this credit card to purchase from many companies — Victoria’s Secret, J.C. Penney Co. and Newport News, just to name a few — and have never had a problem. Here I am, supporting the United States and the men and women in uniform serving overseas, and I can’t get PC-Xperts to send me the computer I want.

All of this is disappointing when the American people are supposed to be pulling together with the war on terrorism. This company does not support our men and women in uniform serving overseas.

Liz NuytsAFNORTH, The NetherlandsGeilenkirchen, Germany

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