Letters: PTSD Soldiers, Bulls and Holiday Travel

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Michele Norris reads from listeners' e-mail. Topics include our continued report on soldiers and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; our story on a very big pig hunted down by an 11-year-old; bull-riding; and the real price of holiday travel.


Thursday is the day we read from your email. And our inbox was full of praise for Daniel Zwerdling's reporting on the treatment of soldiers with mental problems. He went back to Fort Carson, Colorado, where leaders punish some soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder and prevented them from getting treatment.

This is the most amazing reporting I have heard in - I don't know how long, writes Bill Duncan(ph) of New Castle, New Hampshire. The Fort Carson PTSD story has been important from the beginning. But Danny's laid back, descriptive, grounded unfolding of the Army's response all through other people's words and judgments was a thing of beauty. This is a heart-breaking story powerfully done.

Eric K. Hill(ph) of Philadelphia, an officer in the Marine Corps, thought the peace was slanted. Here's what he send. I'm writing because I'm concerned that NPR did not present a balanced view of the story. The percept was that the Army is heartless and doesn't care about its troops. Nothing can be further from the truth. The true question isn't whether the Army is heartless, but where does the Army and the entire Department of Defense go from here.

Last Friday, with a holiday weekend approaching, we weighed the cost of driving a family of four, one-way from Washington, D.C. to Boston, against taking the train, the bus or flying. We received a flood of email chastising us for the way we calculated the cost of driving.

For shame, writes John Bell of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, what about the non-fuel cost of auto travel - wear on the vehicle, insurance, licensing, repairs? All were ignored in your comparison. Well, Mr. Bell is right, so we found some new numbers.

According to AAA, it costs $52.6 a mile to operate a new vehicle that gets about 25 miles per gallon. That includes everything - fuel, maintenance, depreciation, taxes, insurance and more. We added $3.8 to that to account for the recent increase in the cost of gas. So, with tolls, that makes the cost of driving from Washington, D.C. to Boston, $270. That is quite a bit higher than our previous estimate of $96, but it is still cheaper for a family of four to travel by car than by bus, by train, or by plane.

Finally, last week, John Burnett sent us an audio postcard from a rodeo in Del Rio, Texas.

(Soundbite of archived news)

Mr. JOHN LUDLUM (Marketing Director, George Paul Memorial Bull Riding): Folks, I'm here to tell you're not only going to see the world greatest bull riding.

When you come to the George Paul Memorial Bull Riding, it's the mud, the blood, the guts and the beer. We're not in some air-conditioned stadium, where you can put your tutu down in a real soft seat. And it's man versus beast.

Mr. CHAD BEAVERS (Professional Bullfighter Rodeo Clown): I've been banged up from head to toe. I've near broke every bone in my body.

NORRIS: Lena Anderson(ph) from San Diego, California writes, I was astonished -yes, astonished - that in this century, someone would refer to bull riding as a contest between a man and a bull. The professional Women's Rodeo Association has been around since 1948. I wouldn't want to be in your saddle when they hear this piece.

If we astonished, amazed, or antagonize you, please write to us. Go to npr.org and click on Contact Us at the top of the page.

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