Union Democrat staff

Why layoffs?

To the Editor :

As a student at Jamestown School, I'm scared to see the layoffs coming for many teachers in various schools around Tuolumne County.

Why is this happening? Why should we kids have to be forced to deal with more kids in every class? More programs (like music) are suffering.

My mom was one of the first in the county to be laid off from a school when Chinese Camp school was taken over by the Jamestown district. This does hit home; it's not just a headline.

My question is this: Why does this have to happen?

William Vienop


Reason to march

To the editor:

Why should we march?

We know reasons we have given for not participating in veterans' functions, such as: "I was treated like dirt when I came home." Nobody, even my family, understands what I went through over there. (My excuse for years).

Today I understand what we went through, where I was, for two tours in Vietnam. I respect that in all veterans. (The only way to understand what any veteran went through is to have been there, and I would not wish that on anyone).

I will march Sunday because over 58,000 names are on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall. Each name had parents, grandparents, and some had wives, children and grandchildren. One of my uncles served in World War II, and another in the Korean Conflict. My brother (USMC) served with me in Vietnam. Two of my children served in the military, and two grandchildren. One served his year in Iraq, returning without physical injury, thank God.

I've worked with vets from WWII forward, and have experienced too many suicide deaths and attempts because these vets were unable to find enough hope to work through their ghosts. Nationwide, far too many Vietnam veterans have committed suicide. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have produced many suicide deaths.

I'm marching to honor all of the above. My concern is to ensure that what happened to many Vietnam vets on their return home does not happen to today's veterans.

I want them to know, by working through war experiences, they can return to self-acceptance, self-worth, again participating in their lives as productive citizen veterans.

Guy Holmes


Fiscal dilemma

To the editor:

Voters are faced with a governor's race fiscal management dilemma.

Meg Whitman, former eBay founder and CEO, wants to pare down the state's employee rolls by 40 percent. Steve Poizner wants to cut taxes across the board. Has either bothered to conduct a risk-versus-gain assessment of either plan of action?

Ms. Whitman has apparently not researched the potential consequences of her plan to further reduce the number of State employees. Most state service agencies (CHP, Caltrans, Department of Corrections and Cal Fire, just to name four) are operating already at seriously reduced staffing levels. Response times to traffic and fire incidents will only go up and could result in the lack of necessary personnel to quickly and safely mitigate the incidents. Fire insurance rates are already on the rise from previous significant staffing cuts in many rural and urban regions in the State. Correctional officer staffing at state prisons is already dangerously out of proportion with respect to inmate populations.

Mr. Poizner believes across-the-board tax cuts are the answer. We now have no money to fund many of the state's programs. Just what does he believe the tax cuts will do - boost our personal spending capabilities, though we won't be able to pay for necessary state services?

We as a state are going to have to look toward new, non-traditional and unconventional ways in which fund our budget, or our state government will simply collapse. It's time we all really work together and find a candidate who will support all citizens in our state, not just the political interests or agendas of a few.

Stephen Lampl

Sugar Pine

VA claims

To the editor:

"The fastest-swelling elephant in the kitchen," says American Legion National Commander Clarence E. Hill, "is the backlog of undecided (Veteran's Administration) benefits claims."

It is estimated that there are somewhere between 500,000 and 1 million undecided claims, and I agree with Commander Hill: That cannot be tolerated any longer.

The VA is the second largest arm of government and the White House recommendation to hire 4,000 new claims processors in 2011 is simply an attempt to keep the elephant from getting bigger.

The administration and the VA need to work on eliminating this backlog.

The VA says the average wait for a decision is about 158 days and that will grow to 190 days by 2011.

We are talking about health care for our veterans, not abstract theory. Men and women who have gone to the VA for health care and compensation for service-connected disabilities did not wait 158 or 190 days to pick up a weapon and go to war, so why should they have to wait for help?

The VA's system of grading the work of its adjudicators is not by completion of a claim, but by transfer of a file from one desk to another. This system needs to be overhauled, and, with our superiority in computer applications, to not do this is disgraceful.

The Vietnam Veterans of America, the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars and other veterans service groups are pushing hard, and there are some signs of improvement across the board with the VA, but ...

Our government needs to accept the fact that proper care of our veterans is a delayed cost of war.

Talk to your legislators.

Frank M. Smart