2017-11-09 / Views

Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor

On Veterans Day we celebrate the service, sacrifice, and enduring achievements of over 21 million living Americans who served our Nation in uniform so that we may enjoy the freedoms we cherish so much. On Nov. 1 President Trump proclaimed November as Veterans and Military Families Month honoring our veterans all month long, not just on Veterans Day.

However, for the men and women of the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center and the Manistique VA Outpatient Clinic, every day is Veterans Day as we are privileged to serve and care for over twenty thousand men and women who have served in the armed forces.

Today, we are confronted with the sad reality that 20 veterans on average commit suicide each day. Fourteen of those 20 veterans do not receive VA health care, and of the six that do, only three use VA’s mental health services and programs.

Suicide prevention is the VA’s top clinical priority. It is one of the reasons VA recently lifted restrictions on providing urgent mental health care for those Veterans discharged under than honorable conditions, estimated at a little more than 500,000 veterans. A discharge for other than honorable conditions typically prevents Veterans from receiving VA healthcare.

The VA, however, cannot tackle this problem alone. Suicide prevention is everyone’s business. We believe it is important for us to partner with our veterans, their families, community organizations, and the public to reach those veterans who need help and do not realize the services they need are close by.

One resource is VA’s 24/7 Veterans Crisis Line, which veterans can call at 800-273-8255 (press 1).

Since its launch in 2007 through September 2017, the Veterans Crisis Line has answered over 3.1 million calls and initiated the dispatch of emergency services to callers in imminent crisis over 82,000 times.

Since launching chat in 2009 and text services in November 2011, the VCL has answered nearly 365,000 and over 82,000 requests for chat and text services respectively. Crisis Line staff have forwarded nearly 525,000 referrals to local VA Suicide Prevention Coordinators on behalf of Veterans to ensure continuity of care with veterans local VA providers.

For more information on how you can help a veteran in need, use #BeThere (www.VeteransCrisisLine.net/BeThere). This November is an opportunity to thank Veterans in our communities for their service and sacrifice.

Helping a veteran in crisis provides them the ultimate honor.


James W. Rice

Oscar G. Johnson VAMC

Medical Center director

Dear Editor,

Concerning Marquette County Road 595:

Mining could make the U.P. independent – I had the privilege of working the Eagle Mine over the winter of 2013-14, the coldest deep freeze the U.P. has known in awhile.

For all that winter I roomed in Big Bay and trekked 15 miles daily into the Huron Mountains ... and regularly awed at the “purest spot on earth”.

As a now-retired electrician, I stood alongside iron workers, carpenters, operators and other skilled tradesmen to make that project happen. The Eagle Mine was also a showcase with the eyes of the world upon us.

We were out to prove that with modern technology, mining could be done effectively and ecologically safe.

There is a group of outsiders – wealthy industrialists from elsewhere – who want to keep the Huron Mountains for themselves. You can take a road up to Lake Superior and find the Huron Mountain Club.

There you’ll be met with a gate and a security guard who will tell you to get lost. They quietly fund all these fringe groups and back political loudmouths who will have emotional rhetoric around on their behalves, They want you and your little economy to go away.

County Road 595 is no big deal. In fact, it’s a very nice family drive in one of our state’s most inaccessible areas.

Mt. Arvon, Michigan’s highest natural point, is back there but nobody can access it. People are not going to flood back there and ruin it: the sky is not falling, Chicken-little!

People are educated to environmental consciousness. This is 2017, not 1968 and all that frantic hippie garbage needs to go. All due regard to respecting our planet – but the earth is doing fine. It’s the “haves” trying to control the “have nots” that’s the problem.

The U.P. could thumb its nose at Lansing and stand on our own if we would calm down and get behind mining. The wealth waiting beneath our feet is astounding. With modern forestry, lumbering can still give the U.P. its one-two punch for economic independence.

The Eagle Mine proved that mining can be done safely – I was there – County Road 595 is a good thing. Some people want to keep the U.P. a jack-pine Appalachia.

G. J. Rey


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