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Northam takes care of veterans

Richmond Times-Dispatch - 3/8/2017

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

As a veteran, a former Navy petty officer and a mom, I believe a person who truly understands the needs of a veteran, a service member and their spouses is usually someone who has also served.

In 1997, my child was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Neurofibromatosis, Type 1. Like any mother, I was terrified of what the future would hold for my son. However, my son's life was saved by an Army doctor, Maj. Ralph Northam (now Lt. Gov. Northam). Northam had a calm, unflappable demeanor. He was reassuring as we laid out the best options for my son. He had a pastoral bedside manner. He listened when I just needed to talk. My son is still mildly affected by neurofibromatosis, but today he's an amazingly healthy, 19-year-old college student.

Northam showed me then what a true veterans advocate looks like. He has a firsthand perspective of the everyday struggles of those who serve, including the time and aggravation spent manually transferring medical records, doctor's notes and x-rays to new duty stations.

Veterans in Virginia have employment worries. They also worry about transitioning to civilian life and relocation issues - all of which need addressing. Northam, a Democrat, understands our concerns because he is one of us. And he hasn't stopped serving us. He has helped veterans translate battlefield experience into civilian jobs and certifications. He spearheaded the Virginia Values Veterans Initiative, getting more than 690 companies to commit to hiring veterans after they have left the service for civilian life. Northam's passion to assist veterans perseveres to this day.

While it's no secret President Trump won most veteran and active-duty votes in 2016, Northam will do more than just give us veterans lip service. He's compassionate. He's thoughtful. He has a plan.

Kia Thomas Hamel.


Free speech spoke

in Charlottesville

Editor, Times-Dispatch:Regarding the recent Op/Ed, "Condemn the injustices, but honor the contributions," by Evan Draim: For a Princeton graduate, Draim seems particularly ignorant when it comes to the First Amendment, principles of free speech, and how our government institutions function.I don't care to speak to a private college's decision to remove President Woodrow Wilson's name from the school; the school can do whatever it wants. I do take issue with Draim's misrepresentation of basic First Amendment principles regarding Charlottesville's decision to remove a statue of Lee and rename a public park.

His argument fails with one simple question: Since when can't a governing body exercise its own free speech? Naming public parks and erecting public statues is a reflection of the speech of the people of Charlottesville. It has nothing to do with the "feelings" of historical revisionists.

Charlottesville is not "soothing the emotions of a small group." The city leaders are responding to their electorate, as they should. Draim even points out that the City Council voted 3-2 to remove the statue and rename the park. That's free speech in action. After the fall of the Soviet Union, should the citizens of former Soviet states have been forced to keep old statues of Lenin and Stalin? Of course not.

Gen. Robert E. Lee has his place in history. But that doesn't mean Charlottesville has to give him a place in public.

Charlie Schmidt.


How does ACA

affect protesters?

Editor, Times-Dispatch:I have two questions for the congressional town hall attendees who are furious about the repeal of Obamacare:How many of them are business owners who pay all or part of their employees' premiums?

How many of them are receiving subsidies to cover all or part of their own premiums?

Clay Alward.


Time for pols

to get over themselves

Editor, Times-Dispatch:Ignorance and stupidity seem to go hand-in-hand. But they are not the same. Stupidity can occur unintentionally - doing something wrong by accident more than once and not learning from that same mistake. Ignorance, on the other hand is "stupidity with intent." The formula for ignorance is simple. It combines arrogance with stubbornness and the result is usually harm or disaster, depending on what (or who) is the target.We are embroiled in a revolt against our own. The president (an outsider) is trying his best to get his administration and management team up and running, a necessary step in resolving the many problems facing our nation. Unfortunately, he is in the fight of his life against not just progressives who are intent on obstruction and distraction, but also establishment members of his own party doing the same thing.

Instead of our lawmakers joining in to provide wholesome advice and constructive conversation, they are wrapped in their own stubbornness and arrogance, refusing to do anything other than make themselves the center of media attention. This ignorant behavior does nothing more than stymie progress in helping America get back to improved employment and common sensibility in governing the population.

Taxpayers and citizens of our great country would likely find it very refreshing to see the overpaid, spoiled, self-proclaimed royalty in Washington get over itself and get back to work.

Peter Kapuscinski.



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