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Letters to the Editor: May 14

May. 13, 2012 - 11:15AM   |  
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I realize there is a good reason for a rollback of troop levels. Over the years, we have become more efficient and proficient in our mission skills.

Then you read about how they plan to tighten the budget.

Most of the time, they are talking about cutting privates or squeezing more out of retirees. It really burns me up that for the meager wages they paid us and after the promises they made to us, they want to renege on what they promised.

What really burns me is those who are coming up with these brainstorms — all the chair-polishers, particularly those who never served. They sit in their offices trying to balance the budget by encouraging the junior enlisted man to set up an IRA. We should start mandating how many empty suits are necessary at the Pentagon for the amount of troops we want in the field. A lot more could be saved by eliminating the suits.

— Retired Master Sgt. William J. Topham, Needham, Mass.

I applaud the acknowledgment that the Army needs quality psychological services. And it is encouraging to see that it continues to add professionals from behavioral health fields to its ranks. However, regarding a recently posted list of professionals added, I wonder how many noticed the absence of licensed professional counselors and licensed marriage and family therapists.

I am an Army veteran with eight years of active and Reserve service and two combat tours. I am also a counselor, and I specialize in trauma and readjustment. I completed my first internship while deployed to Iraq. I have firsthand knowledge of the unique mental health needs of military members. Attending to those needs is my calling and my passion, but there is no place in the military for myself or anyone in my field.

I am now a civilian working with combat vets and sexually traumatized vets. Does anyone find it ironic that I had to leave the military in order to serve it in this capacity?

I think it is time for the military to let go of its outdated notion that counselors and marriage and family therapists are less qualified than social workers to practice counseling. It makes no sense for the military to lament the scarcity of mental health services while continuing to ignore two fields of professionals with the knowledge, skills and desire to provide them.

— Former Army Capt. Stephanie Starkey, Springfield, Mo.

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