Recently (5/25/14), a letter appeared in the Times Free Press lauding Rep. Chuck Fleischmann for his efforts on behalf of veterans. Unfortunately, the full picture is not all that clear or laudable. For example, Fleischmann took the so-called "Taxpayer Protection Pledge," meaning that if a choice is to be made between caring for veterans and raising taxes, the veterans will remain uncared for, their needs unmet. Additionally, Fleischmann voted for the Republican Study Committee amendment to the 2013 Ryan budget. This reduced Medicare and Social Security benefits to zero beginning in 2024 for everyone under 70. In other words, a person who is 59 right now, who anticipates retirement in a few years, would have to delay that retirement until age 70, regardless of physical hardships. Fortunately, despite Fleischmann's support, this amendment failed. Further, if Fleischmann had his way, Medicare would be a voucher program. We would all eventually be left to negotiate our health care financing individually with insurance companies. Caring for both our veterans and our seniors, many of whom are also veterans, must be a priority. Budgets reflect values. Sadly, Fleischmann's budget votes reflect his support of extreme austerity over health care, seniors and veterans.
JANICE FIGEL, Athens, Tenn.
While the Times Free Press publishes images of smiling gay couples in tuxes, I live in a different picture. In my personal experiences, the gay man spits "homophobe" in my face. He pokes me in my belly button while I wait to go onstage at a local church theater. He puts his hand on my lower back like I'm his girlfriend at a church singles retreat in Gatlinburg. He runs his finger down my spine in the stockroom of the Salvation Army store. He sits behind me at the movies and murmurs, "I'm your secret lover." He lounges at a burger place and tells his partner in tones to be overheard how I am obviously gay. He fondles my arm and pinches it like ripe fruit at a tea party meeting. Meanwhile, I search for a wife. I seek a church where the elders don't give me massages, where a man in a coconut bra doesn't win the singles costume party and where the pastor doesn't pronounce sodomy holy. And I hope for journalists who look beyond poses in photographs.
DR. BRIAN HALE, Red Bank