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Letters to the Editor - 5/24

May 24, 2003

Help us restore disabled vet pay


To the editor:

As Memorial Day approaches, please let your readers know of an effort to help fund the restoration of retired pay for disabled military retirees.

When members of the military serve their country for 20 or more years, they are entitled to retirement pay. If they somehow become disabled as a result of that service to their country, the Department of Veterans Affairs pays disability compensation based on the percentage of service-connected disability as determined by the VA.

While any disabled veteran can get compensation if their disability is service-connected, only military retirees are forced to sacrifice a dollar of their retirement pay for every dollar they receive from the VA.

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Many people (legislators included) recognize the inequity in this practice. Military retirees should not have to fund their own disability compensation.

In the 107th Congress, legislation (HR 303 and S 170) to overturn this inequity had 402 co-sponsors in the House and 83 co-sponsors in the Senate. It was funded by the House. President Bush's administration threatened a veto. The bill was dropped.

While a Combat Related Special Compensation (or Purple Heart-plus) bill was passed, implementation has been extremely slow and the convoluted rules make it clear that the overwhelming majority of disabled military retirees won't benefit from this legislation.

The 108th Congress currently has 292 co-sponsors in the House and 58 co-sponsors in the Senate for this legislation (HR 303 and S 392). However this year the legislation is not funded and President Bush's administration has not changed its opposition.

Since Congress hasn't funded this legislation yet, and the administration has indicated it can't be passed due to funding, large groups of Americans have chosen to donate money to this fund until the United States government is able to take care of its retired veterans suffering from service connected disabilities.

A donation of only 50 cents will go a long way to help take care of disabled retired veterans. Send a check payable to "Restoration of Retired Pay for Disabled Military Retirees Fund" c/o the president or a Congressional representative.

James D. Miller

Rohrersville

Observance of Memorial Day


To the editor:

A Memorial Day observance will be held Friday, May 30, at 9 a.m., at Marty Snook (Halfway) Park. The program will be military fashion, recognizing all elected officials and veterans.

The event has been organized by the Joint Veterans Council of Washington County. Master of ceremonies will be Ronald Wayne Taylor. Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Thomas E. "Tim" Hutchins will be the guest speaker.

Named Secretary in March 2003, Hutchins has been active in Maryland government since 1995 as a member of the House of Delegates. His background includes 35 years in the Armed Forces, more than two years in the United States Army and 33 in the Maryland National Guard, serving in Vietnam, Panama, West Germany and Bosnia. After 20 years with the Maryland State Police, he retired with the rank of Captain as Commander of the Training Division and Police Academy.

As Secretary of the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs he hopes to further enhance the mission of the department to deliver services and programs to assist veterans, their families and survivors in obtaining federal, state and local benefits provided by law in recognition of their service to state and country.

Special recognition will be accorded to a local man. By direction of the president of the United States, Lt. Jerome A. Gettler will be awarded the Air Medal for heroism while participating in aerial flight on Jan. 11, 1944. Congressman Roscoe Bartlett will present the medal - 59 years after the fact - to Lt. Gettler.

Speener M. Hose

Presient of Joint Veteran Council

of Washington County

Help us fight tobacco May 29


To the editor:

On Thursday, May 29 from 6 to 7 p.m., please join the Tobacco Free Washington County Coalition for a Walk in the Park.

Join us at City Park near the Museum entrance. This is an event that is free and open to everyone.

This is a walk to raise awareness of and attention to the issue of tobacco use and the hazards of secondhand smoke in our county.

The walk is at your own pace and is about one mile in length. Everyone who participates will receive a free T-shirt, while supplies last.

For more information call the Washington County Health Department at (240) 420-1796

Come join the fun!

Ron Frew, coalition chair

Hagerstown

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