Readers React

On-base perks and the military-civilian divide

To the editor: I'm a former Marine. I spent three years in the Corps, including a tour in Vietnam in 1966. I have been reading with interest your series on the disconnect the general public has with the armed forces. ("On base, the comforts of home, minus civilians," June 13)

Having an all-volunteer military is a policy that President Nixon instituted toward the end of the Vietnam War because of growing public dissatisfaction, particularly among draft-age Americans. It was an idea that was driven by politics. I think it's a bad idea.

What we have today is an insular, almost mercenary military that serves a population with no connection to them, a population with no skin in the game. I think the draft should be reinstated with no deferments, and both men and women should be taken. Then they should be given a choice: military service or public service.

We don't need any more marketing ploys from beer companies or people thanking us for our service so they can feel better about themselves. Stop using us with your patriotic baloney. Enough, already.

Martin Schoen, Sierra Madre


To the editor: Last week, an L.A. Department of Water and Power employee was accused of abusing the public trust by stealing from the agency while being overpaid (a little more than $100,000 a year) for his position in the first place.

On Saturday, you printed a long piece that makes our Marines stationed at Camp Pendleton appear to be living large, at the expense of the taxpayers and by implication the citizens of Oceanside.

For perspective, compare the situation these brave souls face during the rest of their assignments. Yes, the groceries are cheaper, but enlisted Marines are making less than $35,000 a year while risking their lives, not paper cuts in a cubicle. Most Marine bases are studies in extended useful life.

If anyone deserves a little bit of the better life, it's those in the Marine Corps.

Lisel Wells, Long Beach


To the editor: Your article is right on target. I was a naval officer between 1995 and 1999. I was a defense contractor at the Navy Region Southwest for about two years after active duty.

In the Navy's regional headquarters, it felt like a contest to see how much we could do for sailors and their families so they would never need to leave the base. I always felt they should just have been given extra money so they could've shopped on the outside.

Both military and civilians have become out of touch with one another.

John Luis Ramirez, San Diego

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