Help the veterans

Rep. Mike Michaud’s OpEd in the May 27 BDN struck home. What keeps his program from happening? Funding. So what about some real veteran support?

Given the number of yellow ribbons, the flags waved at parades and even the Major League Baseball camouflage hats, there would be public support. The program should extend beyond fully funding the veterans’ needs.

Fully fund four years of education at a private college level, while at the same time looking hard at the educational programs set up to take advantage of returning vets. Fully fund a veterans’ employment program by providing direct financial incentives for employers to hire vets. Said incentives should be equal to four years of educational funding.

Paying for all of this is quite simple. Given the level of public support for our veterans, a dedicated income tax surtax would do it. I suspect that if it was universally applied, it would be no more than what someone might pay to set an extra place at a Memorial Day barbecue.

It really makes no difference. Given that Congress has made sure that our children will be paying the direct costs of today’s wars, and that most of us have little to no connection with these wars, it would seem little to ask that we all kick in to at least help the vets.

Ben Fuller


Suicide awareness

Far too many of our children are lost to suicide each year. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in people in Maine 24 years old and younger, according to the Maine Suicide Prevention Program.

Survey data from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that nearly 13 percent of high school seniors in Maine seriously considered suicide. More than 9 percent planned their suicide, and almost 8 percent attempted suicide.

The Maine Legislature just unanimously passed, and the governor has signed, a bill that may help prevent these future catastrophes. The law provides suicide awareness and prevention training to public school employees.

This is not a political issue; it’s a human issue. Suicide is a tragedy that affects families, friends and the surrounding communities. This law will increase the odds an adult who is in contact with a youth contemplating suicide will recognize the warning signs.

I hope you’ll join me in thanking all those who worked so hard to make this lifesaving measure a reality.

Rep. Ann Dorney


Grateful for service

Maine’s public advocate, Dick Davies, is retiring at the end of May. On behalf of AARP’s 230,000 members in the state, I want to thank him for his service and commitment to protect Maine consumers.

Through his leadership, the public advocate has saved utility ratepayers substantial funds as a direct result of the advocacy and arguments made by that office. The public advocate has effectively represented consumers on issues such as telecommunications deregulation and utility costs.

In a state with many older residents living in rural areas with limited access to transportation and alternative communication or utility options, the watchful eye and dedication of Davies and his staff has been much appreciated.

Rich Livingston, AARP Maine, volunteer state president


Attack on public schools

I believe Mainers know ideological beliefs drive Gov. Paul Lepage and his administration, and they are all based on right-wing conservative ideas. One out of many of these ideologies is the idea that public schools are failing our children and therefore must be eliminated.

The state commissioner and LePage based this grading system on the infamous bell curve. Using statistics and the bell curve, people can prove almost anything if they base the wanted result on prior beliefs and agendas. This is no different.

This is destructive to a viable and strong democracy. In the last 100 years, I believe the greatest force that has made America a great nation is its public school system.

It has driven the American middle class to the position it is now in. The American Legislative Exchange Council and its minions know that and want to destroy it. Ever vigilant Americans should be fully aware at all times that there are forces at work in any society that seek to divide, diversify and destroy.

An educated citizenry, educated in our great public schools, is the only way a majority of its citizens can fight these forces. The elimination of our public schools would be a devastating blow to our existing democracy and is something we the people should be ever vigilant to protect and support at all costs.

James Chasse

St. Agatha