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LETTERS for December 12 issue

By Staff | Dec 12, 2013

Typhoon victims in the Philippines need help

My name is Joshua Ancheta, a 16-year-old Filipino-American boy who attends Maui Preparatory Academy. I am writing for the cause of reaching out to the Filipinos affected by the massive typhoon in the Philippines known as Typhoon Haiyan. This typhoon struck the Leyte and Samar islands, which are south of the nation’s capital, Manila. It is considered to be the second-most deadly typhoon in the Philippines, and there were more than 2,000 casualties in the Philippines.

I admit, as a 16-year-old boy, I don’t pay attention to the news very often. I’m a gamer, as well as a hard worker in school and an avid phone user. I did hear some things about this storm in the background, but I never really paid attention to it, because I knew that it was typhoon season in the Philippines. When I first saw the typhoon on Headlines, the images and videos struck me. I have never seen such devastation to a place, other than Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast that struck a year ago, and Hurricane Katrina that struck the New Orleans coast in 2005. When I saw those images of the flooded cities and the struggling people, I immediately felt grief and sorrow for those living there.

So now I would like to ask for your help. Please donate money and/or resources to the American Red Cross and other charitable organizations, as they are feverishly working hard for the Filipinos affected there. It would mean so much to the devastated Filipinos if they see our combined efforts in helping them with food resources, money, etc. I hope that we can all work together to help the affected Filipinos.



Our veterans need more than a day; they need a career

America is home to 21.2 million veterans – men and women who were willing to risk their lives for our country.

Unfortunately, many of these veterans face a daunting personal battle here at home: finding work. According to the labor department, more than 700,000 U.S. veterans are currently unemployed. This simply isn’t acceptable. Our veterans have earned the opportunity to earn a living and take part in the very society they fought to defend.

The most effective way to help them succeed in post-military life is through targeted efforts to extend educational opportunity.

Since the 2008 financial crisis, competition for jobs has become fierce. Positions that once required a high school degree or less are being filled by college-educated applicants. This development presents a particular challenge for former soldiers, airmen and sailors, many of whom enlisted without much education or civilian experience.

Moreover, unemployed vets who find work typically take 43 weeks to land a job.

Joblessness is stressful for all who have experienced it. However, many veterans face additional obstacles. At least 3 million were wounded in battle and still suffer from some form of disability. Among those who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, about 20 percent are living with post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression, and one in three cope with a serious psychological trauma.

All these stats are troubling – and illustrate why Americans must commit to making sure veterans have the tools they need to build successful post-military lives.

The best place to start is by broadening educational opportunity for our veterans. Indeed, education is often the determining factor in whether or not a veteran is able to thrive after returning to civilian life.

One initiative has already made important progress in this respect. At the beginning of this academic year, 250 community colleges and universities committed to implementing best practices established by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Education and more than 100 educational experts. These “8 Keys to Success” help connect veterans with academic, career and financial help, and surround them with a community of students and fellow veterans who can encourage them as they further their education.

For similar efforts to grow in number and effectiveness, more Americans need to get involved with private initiatives like Student Veterans of America and the Wounded Warrior Project. These two groups enable soldiers to draw on the skills they have already developed through military service and apply them to their post-military careers.

We should always welcome opportunities to show our appreciation for those veterans who risked everything for our safety and security. But these brave men and women need more than our appreciation; they need our help. And, more specifically, they need more opportunities to arm themselves with the skills to create a prosperous, fulfilling life.



Find common ground on same-sex marriage

Our state’s regrettably divisive struggle over marriage equality has been settled through landmark legislation that rectifies past injustices denying a minority of our population full legal recognition without depriving the majority of a single right they’ve long enjoyed.

We’re all in this together. Our task now is to find common ground and heal by uniting in basic human decency. We must strive to respect every individual’s dignity and right to hold their personal beliefs, values and opinions, no matter how much they differ from our own. Doing so brings out our better angels and makes our community stronger. We’ve nothing to fear but our judgments.

Once we drop our judgments, accepting and respecting others despite our differences isn’t hard to do. As the Master Counselor instructed, we need simply “love one another,” exactly as we are without trying to change anybody. Love is about accepting people, not judging them.