Letters: McChrystal's Dismissal And Parenting

Talk of the Nation listeners were divided on what President Obama and the military's next moves should be in Afghanistan, following the removal of Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Also, listeners debated whether Abby Sunderland's parents should have let her attempt to sail solo around the world.

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NEAL CONAN, host:

It's Tuesday, and time to read from your emails and Web comments.

We talked last Monday with the head of the Army's suicide prevention taskforce about the troubling number of soldiers who take their own lives. Many of you called and wrote in to share your own stories, including this note from a woman in the Midwest who would like to remain anonymous.

As I psychologist at a VA outpatient mental health clinic, I listened to your story with a heavy heart. We are so terribly understaffed that it's usually two or three months before I can begin active treatment with a soldier or a veteran. Yet, I and my colleagues have recently been mandated to perform evaluations for compensation and pension for PTSD, which are time consuming and have specific deadlines. I fully believe that treatment for PTSD can be successful, that suicide is preventable, and that more treatment would result in less need for compensation and pension. A priority set by the VHA at the top deserve serious examination.

Of course, the military was a topic of conversation throughout last week. President Obama fired his top commander in Afghanistan and nominated General David Petraeus to replace him. It was a moment to step back and review U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. J.D.(ph) emailed from Las Vegas to complain: President Obama, at this point, has one last chance to save his presidency, and that is to get out of Afghanistan. If he does not, he's going to lose the support of the last contingent of moderate voters who had such high hopes when he was elected. Afghans don't want us there, and they don't want Western-style democratic government. It would be worth it to reprogram Afghanistan if it could be done without costing American lives, but it cannot. And the whole country is not worth even one more life.

Another listener sees the U.S. in Afghanistan for many years to come. The U.S. military has learned counterinsurgency, but the problem is they don't have a competent civilian partner. It doesn't work for U.S. soldiers to be doing development work and community organizing. That should be the role of local Afghans, but the Afghans aren't doing it. And without a functioning Afghan government, U.S. troops will be in Afghanistan for decades. That email from Chris Norton(ph) in California.

Finally, the Opinion Page set off a hot debate. Sixteen-year-old Abby Sunderland tried to sail alone around the world. Her boat was seriously damaged by a storm in the Indian Ocean and she was rescued by a fishing boat. We asked you: What were her parents thinking? Andreas Fernandez(ph) chimed in. I do not understand the upheaval about this incident. She was very well prepared, so much so she was able to send a distress signal. Her mast broke, not because of her negligence nor because of her youth. This could have and has happened to all. Come on.

Jim T.(ph) in Fort Mills, South Carolina, disagreed: Sixteen? Have you driven around with someone who is 16? Sixteen is no age to be making those kinds of decisions or risks.

If you have questions, comments or corrections for us, the best way to reach us is by email. The address is talk@npr.org. Please let us know where you're writing from and give us some help on how to pronounce your name.

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