An inconvenient fact

Editor of the Reformer:

Sixty-three mosques were destroyed in Gaza by Israeli air strikes, according to the Associated Press. This inconvenient fact has been completely ignored by Israel’s defenders in Congress and the administration and by the millions of fundamentalist Christians who fervently support Israel. It has also mostly been neglected by the mainstream media. Just imagine what the reaction would be if a country willfully bombed and destroyed 63 Christian churches anywhere in the world. Hypocrisy knows no bounds.

Reto Pieth,

Grafton, Aug. 14

The paradox of suicide

Editor of the Reformer:

Death is a difficult subject for almost all of us. Death by suicide is hard to understand among those who have not suffered from horribly, disabling mental illness. It is destabilizing among those who are already on the precipice between life and death. It is the result of unbearable pain, anguish and hopelessness, and an effort to eliminate that suffering. It is, in its way, an effort toward hope and life, even as it extinguishes life.

That is the terrible paradox of this act, which is incredibly painful to imagine and bear. It is not a selfish act, as some like to say. It is not a cowardly act, either. People with serious mental illnesses are some of the bravest in the world, as they navigate life with handicaps in perception, severe mood swings, various internal voices screaming at them, feelings of worthlessness, and utter despair.


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There are often treatments that can help mitigate the effects of mental illness, if one has the time, resources (transportation, finances, health care coverage, encouragement by friends and family) and inclination. Finding effective treatment is a complex puzzle all by itself, in addition to the mess that mental illness can make of one’s mind and body. Finding the value in treatment, or continuing to search for better treatment, can often be too taxing for the ill person to endure.

It is not as simple as the quote in the Reformer by US Surgeon General David Satcher: "mental illness is treatable and suicide preventable" ("A cruel, but necessary, wake-up call," Aug. 14). That statement is misleading, overly simplistic, generalized and blames the victim. It implies that help is available to anyone, will be successful to everyone, and will keep a person from committing suicide.

We would all see the transparency of this statement if it were made about any other illness or medical condition, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, or alcoholism. Often despite the best treatment we can find, tumors grow and spread, heart attacks happen, strokes occur, organs fail, our blood fails to circulate well, and we die.

So it is sometimes with mental illness. We might get the best treatment we can find, and then be unable to bear the side effects of medication, or be unable to afford the medication, or not be able to see a difference in the treatment. We might struggle for years with severe mood swings, bleakness, despair, feelings of worthlessness, and be able to keep this from almost everyone around us. In a moment of utter blackness, we might make the decision to end our pain and suffering because there is no other option we can see. It would not matter if we had fame, fortune or the best family in the world, because in the end it is a choice that is made by a person, alone. It is about what one person, one body and mind, can bear and/or not bear.

Janet Athens,

Brattleboro, Aug. 15

Kudos to DPS

Editor of the Reformer:

Congratulations to the Vermont Department of Public Service for hiring Anthony Leshinskie, an experienced, non-political nuclear engineer, to lead the state’s role in the decommissioning of Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

Vermont’s economic and environmental future should benefit from the addition of this trained professional. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has sole authority in matters of nuclear safety. Vermont should play at least an advisory role in the plant’s decommissioning. 

It’s reassuring to know that the administration has selected one key decision-maker who has experience-based, non-polarized understanding of the radiological safety issues of spent fuel storage and plant dismantling. Some Vermonters might assume that when Vermont Yankee stops making power this December, the plant will become irrelevant to our future. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Any breakdown in the orderly decommissioning of Vermont Yankee risks a breach in the Master Settlement Agreement of 2013, with serious consequences for Vermont’s environmental and economic future. Vermont Yankee has already paid its first $5 million MSA commitment to the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund, the state core of clean energy capital. The MSA also commits Vermont Yankee to contribute an additional $10 million for investment in clean energy and Windham County re-development.

The state should not put these vital funds at risk. For example, if Vermont Yankee fails to receive a Certificate of Public good for a second spent fuel storage pad, the MSA could be declared invalid. This could also prompt an acrimonious legal battle and deprive southern Vermont of the economic and environmental benefits provided to it under the MSA. Spent fuel would remain in the fuel pool, which all parties agree is less desirable than dry cask storage. Investor interest in Windham County could be further tainted.

I wish Mr. Leshinskie every success in his role as a skilled, trustworthy observer and mediator of the real technical opportunities and challenges of the decommissioning of Vermont Yankee.

Milton Eaton,

Brattleboro, Aug. 15

Not your fault

Editor of the Reformer:

This is in response to your editorial on the new chip-enabled credit cards that are coming (Aug. 19), as well as to the many stories of theft of retailer’s credit card information. According to the FTC’s consumer website, since 1974 The Fair Credit Billing Act has limited cardholders’ liability for stolen cards to $50. So there is no need for consumers to be terribly worried about the cost of identity theft. All the efforts to limit the use of stolen credit information is to protect the issuing banks and the retailers. But the cost of any changes will be passed on to the consumers. The purpose of the FCBA was to shift responsibility for credit card safety from the individual consumer to the issuing banks.

Tom Murray,

Brattleboro, Aug. 19

New use for old school

Editor of the Reformer:

I read with interest your news item entitled "Livable community forum to discuss aging well" (Aug. 16).

Since there is now a vacant high school building with concern as what to do with the building, I suggest that consideration might be given to visiting Valley Cares in Townshend, where I have lived for about five years. It is, in my opinion, the ideal example of a place for elderly people to live. In fact, we have heard that some towns and cities have already built similar accommodations for the aged. Here we have a common dining room, activity room and activity director, nurse and staff on duty 24 hours. And there is a waiting list of nearly 100 people who would like to join us here.

Warren S. Patrick,

Townshend, Aug. 20

Questionable location?

Editor of the Reformer:

Please tell me why Windham Southeast Supervisory Union, our local school district, funded with our hard-earned taxpayer money, is holding its annual in-service days in Greenfield, Mass., this year? Aren’t there any local venues that would service its needs as well as benefit our own local businesses?

I am a life-long resident, having raised my two children in the Brattleboro school system, and have always been proud of my town. I think we are in trouble when we can’t even host our own school system’s functions in-state.

Alan Bruce,

Brattleboro, Aug. 19