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Letters to the Editor- Jan. 23

January 22, 2011

Care is needed for those with brain disease



To the editor:

As we pray for the recovery of those wounded and mourn the deaths in Tucson, it appears the Arizona shooter suffers from schizophrenia and responded to hallucinations.

This letter seeks to complement the media coverage offering a glimpse into a terrible brain disease. I note only a small percentage of people suffering with serious mental illnesses behave violently and those are frequently untreated or cannot access treatment.

Schizophrenia can not be "willed" away. Typically, it strikes young people in their late teens through the mid-20s. One day, for reasons unknown to them, a thought that others are out to get them or perhaps an unfamiliar voice in their head says horrible things.

Knowing this experience is weird and, unable to dispel it, they rationalize and might believe a computer chip was implanted in their bodies. As the strange thoughts grow in frequency and intensity, they begin saying weird things to others whose reactions cause them to withdraw or begin to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. Overwhelmed, they are unable to function normally, but reject offers for treatment until something bad happens or they are coerced into a hospital.

With medication and treatment, they respond and improve. Yet it is common that once discharged, refusing to accept they suffer from a mental illness, they discontinue the medication and their symptoms return. This cycle may reoccur until they accept that they have this disease. Then, with education and maintenance care, opportunities for a stable and successful life are possible.

This disease and others are no one's fault. Be proactive and seek care for your family members if they dramatically change. Check out the website for the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill (NAMI). Locally, the NAMI office's phone number is 301-824-7725.



Mark Lannon

The Mental Health Center

Hagerstown






Could direct vote allow us to bypass our senators?



To the editor:

Hopefully, none of us can even place ourselves in the mindset of the individual who walked into a Tucson supermarket lot and began shooting people. I know I can't. I doubt that we will ever really know what made this person act as he did.

Some say it is the voices of others that are the source of his thinking. Yet nothing has been found that even shows that he was politically involved with any group. We might never know why he singled out U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

But while this was the act of a single individual, it seems that more and more people are feeling disenfranchised from their elected representatives. From what I see happening, this feeling will only get worse as those who represent us need to make some hard decisions. If we are lucky, they will make the tough calls and act on both taxes and expenditures. But will this happen based on fair and reasoned thinking or will political party loyalties or "keep my job" take hold and sway their thinking?

If you reside in Washington County, it is likely that you tend to think conservatively. However, both of your senators will think and act with different thinking. After all, if you think conservatively, it is not likely that you voted for either Sen. Barbara Mikulski or Sen. Benjamin Cardin, yet as Maryland senators, they represent you.

According to the Washington Post in 2008, there were 1.9 million registered Democrats and 926,348 registered Republicans in Maryland — a greater than 2 to 1 margin. How well-represented are these 926,348 people? Do they feel disenfranchised with the votes of their senators?

Is it time for us to devise some means of casting votes on the important legislation that impacts our lives? We have already changed the meaning of Election Day to election week or two. Why not allow the citizens of Maryland to direct the voting of our senators by direct vote/poll within the state on major pieces of legislation. Would your vote on health care or taxes be different from Mikulski and Cardin?



Cliff Lane

Black Rock






Car owners should be given a choice for repairs



To the editor:

Members of the 112th Congress have an opportunity to take bipartisan action that would have a positive outcome for every American who owns and operates a car, truck, motorcycle or other motor vehicle. Passage of the Motor Vehicle Owners Right to Repair Act would ensure that vehicle owners have a choice of where they bring their vehicle for repairs, ensuring that vehicle repair is affordable and convenient for all Americans.

A wide variety of constituencies have come out in support of the Right to Repair Act including those representing the military and their families, senior citizens, motorcycle riders, recyclers and organizations representing consumers and rural communities. Consumers benefit from competition and groups like AAA, the American Military Society and National Grange know that their members are at a disadvantage when neighborhood auto repair shops are denied ready access to non-proprietary service information and tools needed to properly maintain today's highly sophisticated motor vehicles.

Enthusiastic grassroots support of Right to Repair continues to gain momentum, sending a strong message to Congress that motoring consumers want this issue heard and passed. Tens of thousands have sent e-mails and letters of support to their elected officials and thousands have joined the rapidly growing social media community to participate in the conversation and follow the legislative developments.

Please join us and take action by visiting www.righttorepair.org to send a letter to your members of Congress urging them to support the Right to Repair Act.


Kathleen Schmatz

President and CEO

Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA)

Bethesda, Md.

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