Letters: Veterans On Making A Proper Exit
NEAL CONAN, host:
It's Tuesday, and time to read from your emails and Web comments. We talked last week about Operation Proper Exit, an unprecedented military program that gives wounded veterans of the war in Iraq the chance to return to the place where they were wounded. We heard from many veterans and from family members.
Michael Cummings(ph) emailed from San Francisco to tell us: My son, Morgan(ph), was killed by an IED in - near Baiji in October '04. I have long thought now that some closure or ability to comprehend the event might be gained from visiting the exact location of the attack. While the living that's certainly should have priority access, I wonder if other parents of deceased vets feel as I do - that we, too, would benefit from a program like Operation Proper Exit for we, too, have sacrificed, if less voluntarily, and may have a sense of incompleteness that such a visit could help resolve somehow.
Another listener, also a civilian, wrote to say thank you for helping her understand the sacrifices of those in the military. That was one of the best shows I've heard you do. Thank you to all who serve or who have in the past. I don't think I understood the depths of service until today's show. That email from Jill Mahaney(ph) in Sparta, Michigan.
Jobs and the economy continue to weigh on many people. Despite deep cuts in hiring, benefits and new equipment, worker productivity is way up. Many people are working much, much harder for less. Brian(ph) in Boise wrote to complain: My wife and I are both employed, and while we're happy, we live in a constant state of anxiety that is totally unsustainable. We literally have nightmares of being laid off, almost every week, and our mental state has degraded greatly over the past few years. Being employed is great, but living in a constant state of panic and fear is not something that can last indefinitely.
Judith Lempert Green backs up that story. She's a psychologist in private practice in Michigan. I am seeing the results of this pressure, she wrote. Teachers are being asked to add time to practice math or reading, taking away time available to teach their own curriculum. I have seen several employees of a large national bank out on psychiatric disability from the micromanaging, forced overtime, and demands to process information on the phone with customers without relating to those customers in a human way. All of this has an impact on sleep duration and quality as well as general anxiety and depression.
Finally, we asked you to tell us what book you've just never been able to finish, and we got enough responses to fill a chapter or two.
From Danielle(ph) in Seattle: I never got past page 36 of "Gravity's Rainbow" by Thomas Pynchon. I don't personally know anyone who has ever finished that book.
Emily in Kansas City added: I was never able to put down a book, even if I hated it, until I started "Anna Karenina" and made the decision to call it quits. You put so much time into a book, and to give up partway through feels like admitting defeat, admitting that you wasted your time.
And from Daniel in Washington: "The Bible," part one and two. Boring.
You can read some of the other titles our listeners couldn't finish at our Web site. That's at npr.org, click on TALK OF THE NATION. If you have comments, questions or corrections for us, the best way to reach us is by email. The address is firstname.lastname@example.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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