Job freeze hurts state's mentally illAs president of an...

the Forum

February 01, 1991

Job freeze hurts state's mentally ill

As president of an organization for families of people afflicted with serious mental illness, I am writing to express my outrage at Maryland state hospitals. State hiring freezes have been devastating for our relatives.

Nursing and social work staffs reportedly have been reduced by 25 percent. Patients are locked in seclusion because there is no staff to supervise them.

We are being told to expect cuts of another $2.2 million in community programs for the mentally ill when our streets are already teeming with mentally ill people with no place to go. Existing community programs for such people are operating beyond capacity.

The mentally ill are among the most vulnerable members of our society. Their welfare is dependent on the conscience and protection of groups like ours and agencies like the state health department.

It alarms us to learn that our efforts to work within the system occur against a backdrop of bureaucratic profit-taking and pet projects exempt from hiring freezes and regulations. Mental illness affects one in four families. It is time we all take notice of the injustices perpetrated against those neglected in our hospitals and abandoned in our streets.

Richard M. Davis

The writer is President of the Alliance For the Mentally Ill of Metropolitan Baltimore.

War strategy

Comparing the gulf war with Vietnam is not valid, and General Schwarzkopf made this point when he answered a question from television reporter Leslie Stahl on Jan. 20: "No, we are not going to fight the enemy's war."

What does that mean? The mistake of the Vietnam War wa throwing away the book, fighting the "Viet Cong's war." For the gulf war, the "book" is: When superior power can be applied, the enemy can run but it can't hide. The beginning of the end comes when the enemy can no longer run.

Saddam Hussein's strategy of separating the air force from the southeast troops suggests a mistake to be exploited by use of air power wasting all forms of communication, transportation, bridges, long stretches of paved road, telephone, power in a 100-mile-wide swath, to completely isolate ground forces.

If Saddam believes air power can't prevent him from running, prove him wrong, for while air power is the key to victory, gas weaponry still allowed Saddam to continue to run. If he has an escape route left, and is willing to accept losses from air power during a withdrawal, he can escape annihilation from ground forces by use of gas to cover a withdrawal from Kuwait.

What does troop isolation mean? A combat soldier can cope with the noise of battle, be shaken by the sound of death ` but suffers the most when he finds he can't go home ` unless he stops running.

C. W. Edwards


The gift of sight

Sight is something I've always taken for granted, as mine had always been excellent, until the day I learned the horror of detached retinas. I always think of this curse as the "angel of death," for it swooped down on me without warning, striking incredible pain in my eye and causing me to see swarms of huge, silver-winged birds darting everywhere and experiencing agonizing shafts of pain in my head.

Subsequent surgery proved a failure, so I was then referred to Dr. Ron Michels as my last hope, which indeed he was.

I met him for the first time two years ago on Martin Luther King's birthday. Who could have imagined that he would die exactly two years later, on that same holiday?

From the outset, he was too honest to give me false hope. In answer to my question, "Could I go blind?" he said, "Yes, but as we speak, the ceiling could fall in on us. Don't waste time with such thoughts."

The results of his last operation on me exceeded, I believe, even his expectations. He said I was his "prize patient!" I felt like a celebrity! That was in June 1990, the last time I saw him.

GWhile I rail inwardly at the injustice of this loss, I hope all of us ` his family, his friends, and his patients who live in every corner of the globe ` can take consolation from the fact that he was, at least for a little while, among us.

Lillian Broadwick


Abortion distortion

Once again The Evening Sun distorts. In an editorial, "Time for action" (Jan. 24), its writers spew out the same old misinformation with respect to pro-abortion legislation pending in the General Assembly.

The editorial states:

"It's time to ratify the most sensible compromise available, the compromise embodied in Roe vs. Wade . . ."

Not to repeat itself, of course, the editorial says, "It is possible to codify the best available compromise, which was laid out by the Supreme Court 18 years ago ` and to do it now."

Let me repeat (in part) what was printed in my letter to the Forum (Jan. 25), written in response to a similar editorial.

" 'Let's compromise,' says The Evening Sun. And how should we compromise? Well, suggests The Evening Sun, 'What better compromise on this issue than that which has already evolved under the Supreme Court decision of 1973 known as Roe vs. Wade?'

"What fools the editors must take their readers to be. Roe vs. Wade stands for abortion on demand. A woman may, for any reason (or no reason), abort her child throughout the entire nine month period, without parental notification, without spousal notification or consent, without informed consent, for purposes of gender selection or as as a means of birth control.

"The only thing she needs is a doctor who will do the abortion."

John T. Enoch

The writer is with the Archdiocesan Right to Life Committee of Baltimore.

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