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Support returning war vets

Support our troops.

That's not a one-time goal limited to troops in battle.

We should also support our troops after they come home from war - perhaps physically or psychologically damaged, perhaps finding that their job has vanished or their marriage has fallen apart while they were away.

In Iraq, hidden bombs and disguised attackers cause a higher percentage of serious injuries than in previous wars. Advances in medicine since Vietnam mean a much higher percentage of severely wounded or brain-damaged casualties are surviving their wounds. But any soldiers returning from a war as vicious and as hidden as Iraq will be missing a large part of their youth and their peace of mind.

How are we supporting our troops?

Scandals at Walter Reed Army Hospital, the 'cost-cutting' measures taken against the Veteran's Administration, cuts in veteran's benefits by the government, the layers of bureaucracy and endless delays faced by injured or troubled veterans face trying to get help - all this shows we are not 'supporting the troops,' except in words.

If we really want to support our troops, the first step is educating ourselves about what they need. We must ask them ourselves.

'Supporting the Troops -Veterans and Health Care,' a panel discussion with local veterans from past and current wars, will take place Sunday, April 29, at 7 p.m., at 2017 21st Avenue (The Milky Way) in Forest Grove. Admission is free, and we should all take this opportunity to find out what challenges our returning veterans face, whether they can get the care they deserve, and whether our veteran's care system is broken.

More important, we can learn what must be done to really 'support our troops.'

Walt Wentz

Forest Grove