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Letters to the editor for 6/14

June 14, 2002

Take pride in uniform


To the editor:

The other day I was out shopping for food, as were many other fine people, when I crossed paths with a young man wearing his work clothes out in public. Normally this wouldn't be an issue, but you see, this gentleman was a correctional officer.

It wasn't the fact that he was wearing his uniform out in public, but how he was wearing it.

This gentleman had his shirt completely out of his trousers and unbuttoned all the way. He also had his hat tilted to the side of his head. You see, I'm a recently retired correctional officer, and that display left a real bad taste in my mouth.

I'm sure I speak for many others who have worn that same uniform or still do.

The job of a correctional officer is a very difficult and stressful one that most people wouldn't consider choosing. Most of us who did took a lot of pride in wearing that uniform and wearing it properly. It's bad enough that the public has a less than fair image of correctional officers as it is. Who can blame them when you have some fellow who looks like he just stepped off a slow-moving empty box car?

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For many years while I was employed by the state as a correctional officer I fought side by side with other fine people to try to make improvements in the working conditions and benefits of those who chose to wear that dark blue uniform. Those struggles were long and hard, and the gains were few and far between, largely because of the unfair negative images in the eyes of those living outside of the fences.

So here's a word of advice to those of you who are still working in corrections and to those of you who choose to take that path. If you want to be looked at with the same level of pride as a police agency, and have the public in your corner, then you need to look and act the part.

Mike Keifer

Hagerstown




Kids deserve better


To the editor:

From 1935 through 1939 my brother and I attended high school in the City of Chicago, Illinois. The school had 4,800 students.

It had a lunchroom that fed 2,400 students at a sitting. A professional auditorium that held 2,400 and facilities that would allow professional orchestras, ballet and theatrical groups to perform.

Music and art were taught and the school was able to field a 100 piece symphony orchestra, a concert band, a marching band and an ROTC band. German, French, Spanish and Classical Latin were the languages offered.

The school had two gymnasiums, not "cracker boxes" (boys and girls), a rifle range, an Olympic size swimming pool and space in the "basement" of the building to drill a 500-man ROTC unit.

With this in mind I find it difficult to understand, that with times so much better than they were in the '30's, that the School Board and others find it so difficult to fund the school systems of Washington County!

Each year high school students from this area go on to prestigious colleges, universities and the nation's military academies, in spite of miserly budgets. The students and teachers of Washington County deserve better.

Laurence Sharpe

Smithsburg




Americans deserve health security


The one message I want to convey in 2002, whether I win or lose, is that our health care system is in crisis, and it needs a complete overhaul because all Americans deserve health security. I don't know anyone who likes the current system except perhaps health insurance companies and drug companies.

But hospitals, nursing homes and community health centers are in desperate financial shape because of cuts to federal Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements. Skyrocketing malpractice insurance rates are driving experienced doctors out of business. Veterans are facing increased co-payments for their prescription drugs, and Congress has turned its back on the promise of lifetime care. Congress is talking about a prescription drug benefit for seniors - a worthy goal.

But if we weaken Medicare in the process by making offsetting cuts, we'll have placed all seniors at risk. Many doctors are already refusing new Medicare patients because reimbursements have been cut. Forty million Americans are uninsured, so they don't receive the preventive care they need. Ultimately, they cost us all more by visiting emergency rooms unnecessarily and waiting until a condition becomes serious before seeking care.

But health care coverage is substandard for millions more whose costs are rising for very limited coverage. Businesses struggle each year to offer affordable coverage to their employees, and many are finding that they must employ full-time benefits managers. Even Americans with insurance lack security. If a family member has a pre-existing condition, you are frozen in your job because switching employers may cause a family member to lose eligibility for coverage.

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