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Soldiers’ Home is ‘unassailable debt’ due vets

IN SUPPORT OF ARMED Service veterans and in gratitude for their service to our country which has allowed us all to live in freedom, the Greater Holyoke Council for Human Understanding extends its deepest sympathies to the families of those veterans who have lost their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We recognize that this loss of life has been exacerbated by long-standing policies of the commonwealth of Massachusetts, which has underfunded the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke for nearly all of the 68 years since its inception in 1952, and we, therefore, offer our whole-hearted support to the coalition of veterans and their families which has made five requests to governing bodies. These include: First, the recommendation to Gov. Charlie Baker that both the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke and the Soldiers’ Home in Chelsea be aligned under the state Department of Public Health Bureau of Hospitals; Second, that there be changes to the homes’ boards of trustees and that the model for these trustees be more closely examined and overhauled, especially to include members with both veterans status and medical knowledge; Third, that personnel including a geriatric physician, geriatric nurse practitioner, and a psychiatric nurse practitioner be included in hiring in the near future to support the increased demand for such care for the population the homes serve; Fourth, regarding the appointment of a superintendent of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, the coalition advocates the reinstatement of the original guidelines for the hiring and retention of the superintendent, thus removing this position from political appointment; and Fifth, the coalition seeks a commitment from the Baker administration for the renovation and expansion of long-term care facilities at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke maintaining, at a minimum, 250 long-term beds, services for women veterans and creation of an adult day care center.

The Council for Human Understanding is aware that a proposal for these building needs was approved by the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department in 2016 for $65 million and has been awaiting state matching funds of $35 million since that time. We owe an unassailable debt to our veterans for their unsurpassed gift of liberty to all, and we unequivocally support these requests and recommendations.

SUE ELLEN PANITCH

On behalf of the Greater Holyoke Council for Human Understanding Holyoke

Trump’s ‘stream of unconsciousness’

Stream of consciousness is a person’s thoughts and conscious reactions to events, perceived as a continuous flow. The term was introduced by William James in his “Principles of Psychology.”

It also describes President Donald Trump’s handling of interviews and press briefings. He is unencumbered by facts, science or history, which must be very liberating. In his interview with Chris Wallace, he riffed on Joe Biden with no mooring in reality.

His latest press briefing allowed him to send his best wishes to an alleged sexual predator of underage girls, Ghislaine Maxwell, twice. We never knew how conciliatory he could be toward women.

And what about the coronavirus? We are here because of Trump’s “Silent Spring.” Now the polluted stream of unconsciousness from the man with no conscience tells us that the virus is going to get worse before it gets better. In the words of Bart Simpson, “D’oh.”

PAUL CHIAMPA

East Longmeadow

Let America be what it claims to be

When I see and hear people pleading for understanding that their lives matter, I feel such pain, for it’s a shame that any American should have to feel this way.

Black people have lived here in America, along with people of other ethnic backgrounds, for centuries and have fought and died in the same wars, paid taxes, brought their children up to respect the flag and, above all, are just as much American as the folks of any ethnic background living here as citizens. Why should they have to explain “that their lives matter?”

Everything all other citizens have should be given to them without question. That means respect by all, protection by the police without rancor, decent housing without extra charges and schools with the same high quality education as every other school in American, and they should receive this without having to prove anything. They are American citizens and deserve it without any more question than any other citizen.

Their Lives Matter!

It’s time that they’re able to live with the knowledge that they can call on the police for help and not fear them, know that they’re welcome into people’s homes without feeling different and uncomfortable and know they’re accepted in our society for that is what America is all about. A mixture of all backgrounds, growing and living in harmony, all enjoying the fruits of their labor. America, let it be what it claims to be: “One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

BARBARA BIDWELL

Ludlow

Athletes taking knee insult nation’s fallen

Enough of the lame explanations as to why kneeling during our National Anthem is OK and not unpatriotic.

I find it is ironic that those who seem to have benefited most from our country are the least respectful. Most are well compensated and play their games and act their parts well.

That being said, I find it is a desecration on the graves of all those who gave their lives to uphold the privilege of living in this country. Do not think for one second as our national anthem starts at the beginning of each game those in attendance who are unable to stand would give everything if they could. Shame on you.

ROBERT MENARD

Chicopee

Stop hitting ‘panic’ for colleges

The last thing students need right now is someone pushing another panic button. And unfortunately, it has happened again.

Scott Galloway, professor at New York University Stern School of Business, recently published a study he completed, “USS University,” on his blog No Mercy/No Malice. (“Analysis: Future grim for Mount Holyoke College,” The Republican, A-1, July 23) While malice may not have been professor Galloway’s intention, this highly unscientific work certainly had the “time to panic” effect. The research methods used rival those of US News & World Reports: total rubbish.

His ranking system, a scale of “thrive, survive, struggle, or perish” incorporates data from Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (OK, that’s good), the ill-researched US News & World Reports, Google Keyword Planner, crowdsourcing site, Niche, and the Center on Education and the Workforce, which has its own methodology for ranking a college’s return on investment. Do these sources together paint realistic pictures of what is happening in higher education right now? The answer is very simple: no.

As just one example, professor Galloway’s study notes that Marlboro College will “struggle” throughout the pandemic. However, Marlboro College has already perished and will be absorbed by Emerson College this fall. Struggle next year? No way. They have already left the scene. Clearly, the researchers took no steps to validate the methodology with facts from present day reality.

Brown University “survives,” despite being among the most selective colleges in the nation — the group that Galloway names as those to “thrive” throughout the pandemic. Wellesley College, one of the most prestigious colleges in our country, will just “survive” despite an almost $1 million per student endowment and a network of loyal alumnae primed and ready for giving, such as Hillary Clinton and Diane Sawyer.

The compiled research just doesn’t match reality. Will some colleges close in the next few years? Yes. Colleges on the brink of sustaining themselves may not have the resources it takes to survive a pandemic. Is Galloway’s list a good representation of this group? Absolutely not.

As someone who has worked with high school students going through the college search process, did this study help students and their families at a period of great stress in our country? No. It was not accurate, well researched or sensitive to the idea that students need and deserve hope. Publishing bad research did nothing but point fingers in the wrong direction.

LYDIA MANN

Worcester (The writer is a director of admissions outreach at a New England college.)

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