Veterans’ health care crisis

I am a grandmother who can feel the anguish of the families of young men and women sent to Iraq, although I oppose the Bush war policies and their effect on veterans.

I am impressed when the national commander of the American Legion says “there is a veterans health care crisis in out country and the public isn’t aware of it. Our young people are sent off to war only to return to a health care system that is falling apart.”

Though “only” 157 U.S. soldiers were killed in the war in Iraq, 20,000 (30 percent) have been listed as casualties. These vets need not only hospital care, they need help for mental and drug problems. The $1 billion for veteran’s health care – advanced by Republicans and President Bush – barely covers inflation for current spending.

Veterans Administration offices are told not to give information about programs vets are entitled to – due to inadequate funding. The V.A. will have to charge higher fees and eliminate all coverage for 380,000 veterans. One vet, Ernesto A. Tafoya, has been waiting more that two and one-half years for an appointment.

The “poverty draft” sent young people to fight in Iraq. I think the government owes them a lot more than the Bush budget provides.

B.J. MangaoangSeattle WA

Du Bois legacy alive at NAACP

W.E.B. Du Bois’ vision to challenge racial oppression started with the Niagara Movement and evolved into the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Aspects of Du Bois’ vision were prevalent at the July 2003 NAACP convention in Miami, particularly in the areas of youth, education, and the defense of civil liberties.

Young people were prominent in ACT-SO (Afro-Academics, Cultural, Technological, Scientific Olympics) and other youth meetings during the first days of the convention. In ACT-SO, teens competed and were judged by professionals in their given fields.

The legal education seminar featured scholars who presented the pertinent issues that African Americans face today. These included housing segregation, funding and taxes.

The seminar on education addressed the plight of African American youth, including the denigration of the African American male, who is three times more likely to be assigned to special education classes. Attention was also given to the abuses associated with “high stakes testing,” standardized tests that preclude many minorities from attaining a high school diploma.

The seminar on the Patriot Act called that legislation a throwback to the McCarthy era, allowing the government to sneak and peep, search and seize at will. There appears to be no limit to its abridgment of democratic rights, assuming all to be potential terrorists.

Du Bois’ vision has been preserved and is to be cherished as part of the NAACP’s legacy today.

Debbie BellPhiladelphia PA

The author is the chair of the African American Equality Commission of the Communist Party.

A soldier speaks out

I am a Marine stationed in San Diego awaiting a deployment on the 22nd of August. I am also a communist. I read about “Soldier Sal” (PWW 7/19) and just wanted to tell you that there are many like him in the armed services. I have met other socialists in the corps and navy that are against these wars, and I wanted to tell you that we are out here and we are not just a minority. It seems as though the only servicemen and women that want war are the ones who are not that educated. They just want to see combat. I personally am not worried about going into combat, but I do not want to die for oil.

A readerVia e-mail

Bad plan

The Project for a New American Century (PNAC) is a plan that was drawn up in the early ’90s. Some of its authors are now in the Bush administration. The plan is to take Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Please call or write your folks in Congress and tell them you don’t want America to be part of any such plan. Thanks.

Joe RandellBellingham WA

Editor’s note: the address for this infamous plan’s website is