December 01, 2008

Pentagon is working to aid military families

The column "Bolster military families" (Commentary, Nov.23) rightly highlighted the challenges that many military families face in their daily lives as a result of frequent reassignments and deployments of loved ones.

The good news is that they do not face these challenges alone.

The Department of Defense and the military services have long recognized that while we recruit individuals, we retain families - families that need our support. Over the years, we have made a great deal of progress in providing that support.

Today, the Defense Department offers:

* Affordable child-care programs at centers with the highest accreditation requirements in the country.

* Uniformly high-quality, high-achieving and safe schools for military children around the world.

* Emotional support programs for young children with partners such as Sesame Street Workshop.

* Before- and after-school programs and summer camps for children and youths.

* Medical or education services for spouses, children and parents with special needs.

* Help planning moves and relocating to new communities.

* Financial readiness services for developing short- and long-term savings and retirement plans, purchasing cars and managing household budgets, mortgages and investments.

* Access to quality affordable housing on military installations through public/private ventures.

These are just a few of the many programs currently in place to ensure that military families have the support they need and deserve.

And as new challenges arise, we will address them daily in partnership with families, military leadership and flagship research institutions across the country.

Lynda C. Davis, Arlington, Va.

The writer is deputy under-secretary of defense for military community and family policy.

Perhaps president should seek a pardon

After seeing that President George W. Bush has pardoned numerous criminals ("Bush grants pardons to 14," Nov.25) and a turkey, a question comes to mind: Shouldn't Mr. Bush be asking the American people to pardon him for his turkey of a presidency?

Frank Sass, Timonium

Changing the 'change we can believe in'?

The only thing President-elect Barack Obama seems to be changing is his mind.

Werner Furth, Abingdon

'Stars and Bars' still used as racist emblem

A recent letter objected to banning the Confederate flag on the grounds that the U.S. flag was, long ago, also a symbol of racial oppression ("Flag remains symbol of rebellion, bigotry," Nov. 25). This argument ignores the fact that, even today, the "Stars and Bars" is used by racists and understood by them as a way to show solidarity with other racists.

For instance, when I sold my house to an African-American, I was threatened by some neighbors who objected to my action. When I didn't back down, they placed Confederate flags around their properties; those neighbors who applauded my action then placed real American (Stars and Stripes) flags around their properties.

I have no doubt that the racists who were opposed to upholding the Constitution thought of the "Stars and Bars" as making a statement in favor of racism.

However, the U.S. flag today is well-understood to stand for liberty and justice for all.

Bill Duff, Cockeysville

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