Opinion, Analysis, Discussion

Letter: Roseburg’s Music on the Half Shell needs better seating control

August 27, 2014 — 

Leave space for others, too

Before I go any further into this letter, let me emphasize that I think the Music on the Half Shell is an awesome event. What I have an objection to is allowing people to save their area with blankets.

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Letter: Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center needs a director whose first concern is to serve the veterans

August 27, 2014 — 

Call to remove Dir. Bogedain

The Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center has had different directors over the years, but Carol Bogedain is one of a kind. She has her own agenda and it is all about her. There’s no room in her world for the veterans she is supposed to serve.

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Letter: Roseburg Marine Corps veteran speaks up for local VA service, offers suggestion to fill staffing shortages

August 26, 2014 — 

Find solutions instead of fault

Although I try as a standard practice to comment on positive performance as often as on negative performance, I’ve been remiss with respect to the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center. An August 10 letter to the editor was a reminder.

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Letter: Term limits for Douglas County Commissioners?

August 25, 2014 — 

Don’t waste experience

Why do we need term limits? If the candidates aren’t doing a good enough job to suit the people in their district, don’t vote for them again. They can be impeached.

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Letter: Tell Senator Wyden our tax code should treat all sectors of the economy fairly

August 25, 2014 — 

It’s time for tax reform

Articles have appeared recently suggesting that President Obama may take steps to stop U.S. companies from moving their operations overseas, a practice known as corporate inversions. I think the Administration is losing sight of the bigger picture: the need for comprehensive tax reform.

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Letter: Candidate Gary Leif shows qualities needed for Douglas County Commissioner

August 25, 2014 — 

Endorsing Leif for our county

While I was at the fair, I noticed that only one candidate running for Douglas County Commissioner Position 3 had his own informational booth. I am not familiar with any of the people running for commissioner and was surprised that all the candidates did not have their own space, so I stopped at that one booth. The candidate’s name is Gary Leif and he is a long-time business owner in the county.

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Publisher’s Notebook: It’s time to put leadership before your golf game, Commander in Chief

August 24, 2014 — 

Journalists are being beheaded by religious primitives, 18,000 Russian soldiers are ready to march on Ukraine, Hamas is lobbing rockets on Israel, immigrants are pouring across our southern borders, an American city is under what appears to be martial law and our commander in chief is playing golf — lots and lots of golf.

For the record, I enjoy a good golf game. I haven’t actually played a good golf game in years, but I do enjoy getting out on the course and whacking that little dimpled ball everywhere but the fairway.

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Editorial: Bonuses for VA executives must come to an end

August 24, 2014 — 

Bonuses for senior executives in the Department of Veterans Affairs should end forever, not just for 2014.

Through a Freedom of Information Act request, The News-Review learned that top administrators at the Roseburg VA Medical Center reaped more than $80,000 in bonuses over the past five years. It’s possible the figures are even higher. We asked for the amount awarded in bonuses. The VA responded that it doesn’t give bonuses, but rather “performance awards,” but the federal agency provided those figures.

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Letter: Senior animals in Douglas County need homes, too

August 22, 2014 — 

Lucky family and lucky dog

It’s difficult to view the sad faces of helpless animals turned in daily to Saving Grace, but it seems the partnership of Saving Grace and The News-Review gives them hope.

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Letter: First Lady’s efforts to establish portion control program may have unexpected consequences

August 22, 2014 — 

Fixing obesity, or feeding it?

Our first lady has asked our food industry to help stop the horrible plague of obesity and it promised to help, using portion control.

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Guest column: Help your child avoid illegal drugs, alcohol

August 22, 2014 — 

Soon, school bells will be ringing. As parents, we can help our children learn successfully by setting aside time for homework and providing time for the family to get together.

We should also consider ways to support our children when they are exposed to peer pressure and temptations. Some of those stresses increase when they return to school.

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Editorial: Roses & thorns

August 22, 2014 — 

ROSE

Let’s have a cheer

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Letter: Wilderness exhibits in Roseburg mark golden anniversary of passing of the Wilderness Act

August 21, 2014 — 

Celebration of our wilderness

2014 marks the 50th year since Congress enacted the Wilderness Act. Some of the grandest landscapes of America were given protection so future generations of Americans could experience them. Cities and countryside alike, Americans across the nation are celebrating this golden anniversary. Here in our precious Umpqua, there have been events in honor of the Wilderness Act. Coming up are two exhibits of artwork that focus on wilderness.

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Letter: Give veterans an insurance card redeemable at any health care facility

August 20, 2014 — 

Money won’t fix our VA system

I worked as a registered nurse at the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center for 28 years. I worked long term care, acute care, the Intensive Care Unit, ambulatory care and home telehealth.

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Letter: Douglas County Commissioners’ closure of county health departments handled poorly

August 19, 2014 — 

Proxy message lacked respect

I’ve been employed by the Douglas County Health Department for 11 years.

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Letter: Perspective on Obama’s platform

August 18, 2014 — 

Hope, Change: they’re a Croc

Obama unloosed a pair of evil crocodiles with the contrived names of Hope and Change. The final outcome of this deception will be his demise —eat him they will!

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Letter: Douglas County Commissioners shouldn’t rush to transfer our public health services

August 18, 2014 — 

Reconsider the health services

While I was happy to finally see an article in The News-Review regarding the transfer of public health services to the state, I was distressed to read that neither the county nor the state has a plan in place. In fact, I question the necessity of this transfer until further facts are known.

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Letter: Despite Obama, America is the place to be

August 18, 2014 — 

Current policies creating chaos

The president, in my opinion, has committed a traitorous act. By his actions, he is allowing access on our southern border by all comers, including terrorists, drug dealers, gang members, and countless unsponsored men, women and children.

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Publisher’s Notebook: So, there was this time I was at the Denver airport ...

August 17, 2014 — 

As agents for the Transportation Security Administration were profiling me last week at the Denver Airport — which appears to be staffed, incidentally, by the Taliban — I thought a bit about how far we’ve come since 9/11.

“Are we safer today than we were that September day in 2001, when 19 lunatics changed airport travel forever?”

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Editor’s Notebook: City Editor Don Jenkins leaves his mark as he moves along

August 17, 2014 — 

Douglas County lost a fine newsman Saturday. That was the day City Editor Don Jenkins turned in his key to The News-Review with plans to head up Interstate 5.

Don isn’t leaving journalism. He’s headed back to his home state of Washington, back to the job that drew so many of us to this occupation. He’s going to be a reporter again, this time at the Capital Press.

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Guest column: At 50, UCAN reflects on service to Douglas County

August 15, 2014 — 

On Aug. 20, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Economic Opportunity Act. The act created a variety of programs that are still active and effective today and that had a significant impact in Douglas County.

These programs include Job Corps, Head Start, Community Health Centers, Foster Grandparents, RSVP, Senior Companions, Senior Centers, Legal Services, College Work Study, Adult Basic Education, Small Business Loans, VISTA, Community Action Agencies like United Community Action Network, and more.

All of this was part of a larger effort by President Johnson, often referred to as his War on Poverty.

The idea of these programs was not to redistribute wealth, but to provide economically disadvantaged families with a means to obtain a decent standard of living. This legislation is unique in that much of its funding is provided directly to local communities, realizing that the solutions to poverty are best found at the local level and not through “one size fits all” government based solutions.

This concept is still alive with UCAN, as it is a local nonprofit agency run by local people and addressing local problems in a manner that works best for Douglas County. In many ways this legislation was way ahead of its time with its design, implementation, and programs, which are just as relevant today as they were 50 years ago.

UCAN first served Douglas County residents in 1967 under the name of Parents Action Council. It was started by three women on welfare who wanted to help other women become self-supporting.

From the beginning UCAN has been focused on helping people reach their fullest potential and assisting individuals and families in times of crisis to get back on their feet.

For almost 45 years UCAN has helped hundreds of thousands of people do this, and currently helps about a third of Douglas County residents with one or more of its services. It is clear from the lives UCAN has changed over the years that President Johnson’s War on Poverty was a success.

There are those, however, who will state that Johnson’s War on Poverty failed and that poverty won. The fact that poverty is still with us is inarguable, but the notion that this is due to a failure of these programs is erroneous for two reasons.

First, even though these programs did not win the war, they fought back very successfully against this enemy and pushed it down to levels far below where it was when the war first started. The facts are quite impressive; prior to Johnston’s efforts senior poverty levels sat in the low 30 percent range and now sit in the low teens.

Overall poverty rates dropped from the low 20 percent range to the low teens until rising again to the mid-teens, but only after a significant cut back in the resources to fight this war. Like any war if you start pulling troops out of the battlefield, before the war is won, there will be losses of ground.

The second reason it is erroneous to say that this effort failed is that we now have an understanding of another root cause of poverty that Johnson’s programs were not designed to address: the growing wealth disparity in our country.

There is a growing understanding that as more people divide up a smaller percentage of wealth in our society, the less we all get. This, along with the recent recession which has only increased this trend, actually is the bigger reason for rises in poverty these days, and is an issue Johnson’s programs did not tackle.

The understanding we have now that we did not have 50 years ago is that it will take a battle on two fronts — a battle on the societal systems front and a battle on the individual front — to truly beat back poverty. Without this two-pronged approach we will always be engaged in a defensive effort against poverty.

President Johnson started this battle 50 years ago with a group of very successful programs that have seen wonderful successes with individuals and families.

But it is now time to reinvigorate this effort to address the systemic problems in our society that increase the number of people living in poverty. In past history there was a Hundred Years’ War; let’s hope that this war does not last that long.

Finding the solution to poverty will benefit us all, as poverty is a drain on our society, our resources and our human potential. We know poverty increases health care costs, handicaps the development of young children which plays out negatively over a lifetime, and is the basis of many more societal problems.

It is a problem we must address, for we all will benefit when every citizen has the opportunity to reach their fullest potential and be free of poverty and its negative effects.

Mike Fieldman is executive director of United Community Action Network based in Roseburg. He can be reached at Mike.Fieldman@ucancap.org or 541-672-3421.

Editorial: Roses & thorns

August 15, 2014 — 

Teens earn awards

Hard work and dedication to meeting goals paid off for Douglas County teenagers Emily Hopfer, Sianna Casey and Marissa Morrow.

Hopfer, 18, of Days Creeks is Oregon FFA Star Farmer for 2014. She earned the honor by developing over eight years a herd of Gelbvieh cattle. She began building the herd when she was a fourth-grader. That’s more than a little impressive.

Casey, 17, of Roseburg finished second this month at the Oregon Distinguished Young Women scholarship program in Salem.

Casey, who was named Douglas County Distinguished Young Woman earlier this year, earned a total of $6,500 in scholarships at the county and state competitions.

Another Roseburg 17-year-old, Umpqua Valley Distinguished Young Woman Marissa Morrow, was one of eight contestants in the state contest.

Morrow and Casey will be Roseburg High School seniors this fall.

Meanwhile, Hopfer plans to attend Oregon State University in Corvallis and major in agricultural business.

Sounds of summer

When Tuesday rolls around, thousands of people will likely feel something’s missing in their lives. It’s time for the annual withdrawal from Music on the Half Shell.

Music enthusiasts have flocked to Roseburg’s Stewart Park every Tuesday since late June to enjoy the free summer concerts.

Those feeling the biggest loss must be the many volunteers who make up the Music on the Half Shell Committee. They have been meeting every Tuesday since October to plan the summer concert series.

We owe them our gratitude for their time, efforts and dedication. It was another wonderful season of performances.

We also offer bouquets of roses to the many sponsors who make the series possible. Without the cash donations from businesses and individuals, the committee wouldn’t be able to pay the musicians and keep the concerts free.

The entertainers always marvel at what a fine community we have. They cite two reasons: The concerts are free, and you can put your blanket out in the morning and trust that it will still be there when you return with your evening picnic.

The concerts on the riverbank of the South Umpqua truly are a delightful way to enjoy summer in the Umpqua Valley.

Putting out fires

They’re just doing their job, but we’d like to thank the quick work of the Douglas Forest Protective Association and fire departments across the county for promptly extinguishing the small fires popping up around the county.

DFPA is excelling at keeping the fires small and containing them quickly.

The hundreds of lightning strikes earlier this week had to make that a challenge.

It’s a disastrous fire season in Oregon, but so far we’ve only had to deal with hazy skies from distant fires in Douglas County.

Smokey the Bear is celebrating his 70th birthday this year. Let’s show him he’s taught us well.

And, if you’re looking for more information on the fire suppression efforts by DFPA, check out the agency’s Facebook page. There are plenty of photos and commentary on where fires are being battled or lightning has struck.

Letter: Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center care providers are professional, friendly, efficient and patient-oriented

August 15, 2014 — 

Workers earn appreciation

While visiting my grandchildren in Roseburg, I injured my eye and had to seek medical help. Since I was eligible for medical care at a VA facility, I called the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center and was informed that I should go to their Emergency Room.

At the ER, I signed in for assistance and was soon asked to go to the Authentication Section to verify that I was indeed eligible for assistance, which I did. I was met by a very business-like but friendly person who looked up my record with the VA and issued a verification statement for the ER attendant. I waited a few minutes and was then met by the triage nurse, who analyzed my problem and made an appointment for me at the ophthalmology clinic three hours later.

I reported to the ophthalmology clinic 30 minutes early and was seen shortly thereafter by their nurse. She took me to an examination room, where I was seen by an ophthalmologist. The examination took about 30 minutes and I was told to pick up my medication at the pharmacy.

I waited about 30 minutes to receive my medication.

My purpose in writing to you is to point out that there are a lot of very capable, nice and conscientious people working at the Roseburg VA facility and I personally experienced a very pleasant visit, a timely examination and treatment of my injury. Everyone at the facility with whom I came in contact was very professional, friendly, efficient and caring. The entire nation needs to know this.

The view at the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center, below the upper level storm at VA, was very comforting to me.

Kenneth K. Yanamura

Mililani, Hawaii

Letter: State-of-the-art training facilities needed for health sciences at Umpqua Community College

August 15, 2014 — 

Support UCC’s HNS project

I’m a disabled veteran who received an opportunity to return to school for retraining. I started at Umpqua Community College in 1995, at age 39, with some college experience in California. I was required to take science classes in my program of study. Some of the classrooms were adequate for lectures, but chemistry, biology and physics labs were severely outdated and limited in space for students attempting to complete related assignments. This is still a problem 19 years later.

I support the Health, Nursing and Science project for these reasons:

The biggest challenge we face for meeting student needs is 45-year-old facilities that don’t meet the high-tech requirements of today’s health care.

UCC is seeking $8.5 million for a 36,000-square-foot state-of-the-art space dedicated to health and science programs. These funds would be combined with $8.5 million from the state to create a Health, Nursing & Science center. This facility would include a nursing skills lab, dental lab, chemistry and biology labs with a prep room, anatomy and physiology lab, physics and geology lab, four classrooms, faculty offices, two conference rooms and two workrooms, all necessary for UCC’s continued success.

If Douglas County takes no action, we’re letting the $8.5 million in state funding go to another community college in Oregon.

Other factors:

The Oregon Employment Department projects more than 500 job openings in Douglas County through the 2012-2022 years. Those jobs would require associate degrees/training in the health and science-related programs that are currently offered at UCC. Overall, more than 1300 new and replacement jobs in the health care fields will be needed in Douglas County by 2020.

As an alumnus of UCC who has completed two Associate of Applied Science degrees, I strongly encourage everyone in Douglas County to support this project.

Jesse Morrow

Tenmile

Letter: Resource Conservation in effect in unused portions of Roseburg National Cemetery Annex

August 15, 2014 — 

Where green grass grows

I am responding to the individual with the ongoing complaint of dead grass at the Roseburg National Cemetery Annex. May I suggest that she attend the beautiful Quarterly Service that will be held at 1 p.m. on August 21. Possibly her personal grass issues will be laid to rest as we join in honoring our veterans.

The dead grass issue at the cemetery is a Resource Conservation project to conserve water and other precious resources. This area is being maintained in its natural state until needed for future burials.

Landscaping and irrigation improvements will be implemented as these areas are developed.

Carol Hunt

Roseburg

Letter: Time to repeal an inefficient, needlessly expensive law

August 15, 2014 — 

Brady HVPA is wrongly applied

Jim and his wife, Sarah, worked tirelessly to pass the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act. As far as I can ascertain, many claims of accomplishment are made about this law, but groups and organizations who support it never mention all of the expense and aggravation caused by it.

They never mention the thousands of citizens who are forced to appeal a gun purchase denial. From 2000 to 2010, there were 107,157 persons who were denied a gun purchase. They appealed and the denial was overturned. That means more than 206 people per week were incorrectly denied and forced to appeal this on their own time and at their own expense. How many persons were denied who did not appeal?

In our country, punishment should be reserved for those who have committed a crime. This law punishes lawful citizens. It’s time to end the incorrectly named Brady handgun law.

David Cordon

Sutherlin

Guest column: Why do we work at the Roseburg VA?

August 13, 2014 — 

Not only has the entire Department of Veterans Affairs system been described as having a “corrosive culture” in a recent White House review, but staff from Roseburg VA have accurately described poor employee morale, pressure from leadership to falsify data, lack of transparency, restrictions on providers’ ability to care for veterans, failure of safety issues to be addressed, liberal use of inappropriate disciplinary action by administration against doctors and nurses, and retaliation for whistleblowing.

Why would anyone work at Roseburg VA? Many of our staff are themselves veterans and believe that we are responsible in combat and in peace for not leaving anyone behind.

For staff members who are veterans, have family or friends who have served, or simply believe in the cause of supporting the individuals who have defended our nation’s liberties and freedom at potential cost to their own lives or health, it is a great privilege. It is not just a job, it is a calling.

Though many of our patients have suffered physical and emotional damage as a result of their service, they are some of the most selfless, kind and patient people you will ever meet.

Almost every day, I get requests from veterans to relay thanks to the clerks who greet them and schedule their appointments, the clinic and preoperative nurses who prepare them for and assist with procedures, the anesthesia providers who do their best to alleviate pain, the operating room or GI nurses who not only assure their safety but also call postoperatively to make sure they are OK, and the doctors in various medical and surgical services who help provide the best care possible.

We have great clinical teams at Roseburg VA, and we are proud of the high quality of services we provide and of the results of our work.

The VA gives us ample time to see each patient in consultation. Our clinical staff is creative and works together to reduce bureaucratic obstacles. One of our clerks created patient handouts on his off time. A nurse makes her own business cards and frequently works through lunch to assure that patients can contact staff if they have questions or concerns about their care.

A Roseburg nurse worked with her counterpart at the Portland VA to help offload simple cases from Portland to Roseburg, freeing up their operating room to allow more complicated surgical cases to be addressed sooner. A plastic surgeon from the Portland VA collaborated with a clerical supervisor here to set up a clinic where he could provide high-quality hand surgery using our operating room.

Our ophthalmologist works closely with a town physician to provide high quality and high volume cataract surgery for veterans.

We are proud to be members of a community that has a tradition of celebrating, supporting and caring for veterans.

As VA staff dedicated to the VA mission, it makes us as angry as anyone when veterans are denied timely access to quality care because of poor leadership and bureaucratic logjams. We are frustrated when leadership seems more interested in making numbers look good than in facilitating care of patients.

However, we come back to the realization that there is tremendous need for veteran care in this state and that we want to be part of fulfilling that mission.

It is an honor to be able to say “thank you for your service” to our veterans through our words and our work.

Dr. Philo Calhoun of Roseburg has been a general surgeon at the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center for 5½ years. He is also a commander in the U.S. Naval Reserves. He can be reached at isleofgough@luxsci.me.

Editorial: Court, not Congress, best bet for increasing timber harvests

August 13, 2014 — 

Hopes rose this year that federal lawmakers would pass a bill to increase logging on Oregon & California Railroad trust lands.

But at some point, reality must sink in. Waiting for Congress has been futile.

Chances now appear better that a federal judge will restore sensible management of the vast O&C timberlands, which are growing seven times faster than they are being harvested.

The surplus growth represents untapped wealth. It’s not even healthy from an ecological standpoint.

Democrats and Republicans largely agree there’s a problem, and the consensus would seem to be promising. But it’s been an illusion.

Only two U.S. senators have a vested interest in the issue: Oregon Democrats Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley. Neither has shown the requisite passion to overcome their party’s natural reluctance to cross environmental groups.

Anyone following Western Oregon timber issues knows that self-involved activists perched in trees have had a greater effect on timber policy this year than either of Oregon’s United States senators.

Hopes peaked in February at a Senate committee hearing chaired by Wyden. The senator said lawmakers should make a commitment to get a bill passed this year.

In a way, it was an odd moment, considering Wyden was addressing, more or less, U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Springfield.

DeFazio had already stuck his neck out and helped push through the House a workable plan to increase O&C logging.

Wyden, on the other hand, had already killed DeFazio’s bill and introduced an unworkable plan that’s probably even worse than the status quo.

For months, we heard vague assurances of behind-the-scence discussions about combining the “best elements” of the DeFazio and Wyden plans. This made no sense because Wyden had already rejected the best elements of DeFazio’s plan.

Defying expectations, nothing has moved in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Last week, we learned Wyden will take his O&C plan to the Finance Committee, which he now chairs. An optimistic person could see this as Wyden doggedly pursuing another avenue. A pessimist looks at the calendar and sees that time has run out to push through tough legislation before the election.

If Democrats retain control of the Senate, it’s hard to see how O&C legislation will fare better in 2015 than in 2014. A Republican-controlled Senate might be more open to reforming federal timber policies, but on all federal lands, not just O&C lands. This will stiffen opposition from the Obama administration.

Meanwhile, the timber industry has pleaded in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., that the remedy lies in enforcing the 1937 O&C Act, which calls for sustainable harvests. Since harvests could increase by sevenfold and still be sustainable, the industry has a point. The straightforward argument was received favorably last year by Judge Richard Leon, who ordered the Bureau of Land Management to increase timber harvests in its Roseburg and Medford districts.

The timber industry has a bigger case pending in front of Leon that would apply to all O&C lands. The lawsuit asks, Why has BLM let the 1973 Endangered Species Act effectively nullify the older, and still on the books, O&C Act?

Another ruling favorable to the timber industry has the potential to dramatically increase timber harvests. That’s more than anyone can say about anything that’s happening in the Senate.

Letter: Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center’s moral, patient care is reflected through its leadership

August 12, 2014 — 

Quality care

is essential

In response to the August 8 Public Forum comments, it is good to hear that the letter writer has been getting timely, quality care at the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center. That is what all veterans hope for.  But, it appears the letter writer is either uninformed, misguided, or perhaps not listening.

Our local newspaper, The News-Review, has a responsibility to report the issues that affect the community and to present an opinion in their editorials. They have received credible information regarding low morale. The information came from fact-based documents and courageous testimony from those who care for veterans and those who receive care at the Roseburg VA. I am very grateful The News-Review has taken their position.

When individuals have a moral compass, they will continue to provide the best care they are able to do. It is good to hear that front line staff have kept their composure when working with our veterans, and not allowed their frustrations and toxic environment to reflect in their interaction with their patients. The News-Review staff didn’t create that environment, they reported it.

In any organization, morale is reflected through leadership and the culture they set. Personally, I think if patient care providers are contemplating coming to the Roseburg VA, they will be encouraged by efforts for cultural changes, by replacing the current leadership with those with a moral compass.

I encourage the August 8 letter writer to join veterans and staff in understanding and changing the underlying culture that has resulted in the low morale, toxic environment, reduction in services and staff, and lack of stakeholder involvement in the decisions made at the Roseburg VA.

Dona Brewer

Roseburg

Letter: Treat women and Mother Earth with more respect

August 11, 2014 — 

Release their true potential

We call it Mother Earth, and like women in our societies, we have abused our planet, too.

If our mothers run the households, balance the budgets and address the needs of our families, why do they have a glass ceiling limiting their growth in our society?

I’ve heard some Harvard studies show that where there is equality of the sexes, there is also more sex. Are insecure, controlling men aware of that reality?

And since women give life to our planet, why do the wives, sisters and daughters of America have strangers meddling in their female reproductive health issues? If some people are against abortion, then they should be for contraception that prevents pregnancy. Otherwise, they are unknowingly enablers for abortions.

Hello, Earth, welcome in!

Kevin Van Hoose

Roseburg

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