05-24-2018 Letters and Commentary

Dear Editor, My husband and I are from the area but now live in Grand Rapids for the past 25 years. We’ve been subscribers to the Record for the last five or six years. We enjoy reading about the events that take place in Southwest Michigan. I also enjoy reading the Spiritual Compass Points column by David Helms. I find them to be pearls of wisdom that this world of ours very much need. Thank you for including this column in your paper. And thank you for doing your best work in turning out this fine paper. Maria Young, Grand Rapids

Red Cross calls for summer blood donations to prevent a shortage; local drive planned

The American Red Cross is counting on volunteer donors to give blood and help ensure patient needs can be met this summer. Around Memorial Day, the Red Cross sees a steep decline in blood donations. Busy summer schedules, vacations and school breaks also cause a drop in donations. Accidents and medical emergencies don’t take a summer break – patients need blood every minute, every day. The public is asked to schedule an appointment to help ensure that hospitals and patients have the blood they need this summer. Make an appointment to donate blood by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). In thanks, all those who donate blood or platelets now through June 10, 2018, will receive a $5 Amazon.com Gift Card via email, courtesy of Suburban Propane. (Restrictions apply; see amazon.com/gc-legal.) More information and details are available at RedCrossBlood.org/ Together. Additionally, those who give May 25-29 will receive an exclusive Red Cross branded T-shirt, while supplies last. An upcoming blood donation opportunity in the Tri-City Area is on Friday, May 25, 12 noon – 5:45 p.m. at the Hartford Federated Church, 65418 Red Arrow Hwy. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements. Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/ RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.

Belonging, the beginning of hope One of the most difficult emotions we deal with is loneliness and the sense of isolation that comes with it. The solution is not just a matter of being surrounded by lots of people. A lively party can be a lonely place as much as an empty room. I remember times at school when loneliness was almost crippling. It was like a shadow that followed me everywhere. Lonely times can be vulnerable times for many people as well. Some may resort to drinking or to drugs to help dull the reality of not belonging. Loneliness can also produce anger – the anger that comes from the disappointment that evidently no one assigns value to us when we thought we had value. That anger can spill over to other areas of life as well, and can affect many. Some loneliness naturally results from the loss of a loved one or a spouse after many years of marriage. So what can we do about loneliness? First we need to recognize it for what it is – a temporary lack of meaningful connection, that is, connection that acknowledges the value of each individual. We acknowledge the value of others when we show interest in them (rather than waiting for them to show interest in us). Hence the proverb, “He who would have friends must show himself friendly.” Friendliness comes back. Next we need to remember that although we may not feel loved right now, God assigns us value by His love even if we don’t sense it right now: “God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) He took the first step towards us and assigned us intrinsic value by loving us. And that never changes, even when we feel isolated. Some loneliness is unavoidable and natural, but no loneliness need be terminal or controlling.

Social Security honors the nation’s heroes on Memorial Day

On Memorial Day, we honor service members who have given their lives for our nation. Social Security acknowledges the heroism and courage of our military service members, and we remember those who have given their lives to protect our country. Part of how we honor these heroes is the way we provide Social Security benefits. The loss of a family member is difficult for anyone. Social Security helps by providing benefits to protect service members’ dependents. Widows, widowers, and their dependent children may be eligible for Social Security survivor’s benefits. You can learn more about Social Security survivor’s benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/survivors. It’s also important to recognize those service members who are still with us, especially those who have been wounded. Just as they served us, we have the obligation to serve them. Social Security has benefits to protect veterans when an injury prevents them from returning to active duty or performing other work. Wounded military service members can also receive expedited processing of their Social Security disability claims. For example, Social Security will provide expedited processing of disability claims filed by veterans who have a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Compensation rating of 100-percent Permanent & Total (P&T). The VA and Social Security each have disability programs. You may find that you qualify for disability benefits through one program but not the other, or that you qualify for both. Depending on the situation, some family members of military personnel, including dependent children and, in some cases, spouses, may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits. You can get answers to commonly asked questions and find useful information about the application process at www.socialsecurity.gov/woundedwarriors. Service members can also receive Social Security in addition to military retirement benefits. The good news is that your military retirement benefit generally does not reduce your Social Security retirement benefit. Learn more about Social Security retirement benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/ retirement. You may also want to visit the Military Service page of our Retirement Planner, available at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire/veterans.html. Service members are also eligible for Medicare at age 65. If you have health insurance from the VA or under the TRICARE or CHAMPVA programs, your health benefits may change, or end, when you become eligible for Medicare. Learn more about Medicare benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/ medicare. In acknowledgment of those who died for our country, those who served, and those who serve today, we at Social Security honor and thank you. Vonda VanTil is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan. You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at vonda.vantil@ssa.gov.

I’M SPLIT 70-30 ON POT ISSUE… Admittedly it seems, like the communities of Hartford and Watervliet, I have mixed emotions about communities “legislating” the sale and use of marijuana (pot). On the one hand, I’m nervous about a hometown allowing the use of a substance (product) that the state and the federal government don’t have a clear-cut policy on the issue. You could say the feds (and some states) lump it together with the rest of the illegal drugs. Yet the feds have no definitive guidelines or policies for control or enforcement and vary on response to circumstances to warrant prosecution. States are in a worse fix, while most still have pot sale and use on the books as a controlled substance, others have used public referendum and legislation to make its use and sale legal across the board. Still others split hairs by making medical use legal while banning recreational use. On the other hand, there is evidence the use of pot has meritorious effects for those suffering from chronic pain and other medical conditions. Some liken the use of pot for recreational use as having no more social detriment than alcoholic beverages. So, while I say I’m split on pot use, either for medical use and recreational use, the split is not even. I think I favor the legalization of pot use 70% in favor of it. I consider the grand experiment of prohibition in the early 20th century when the government, led by public outcry, banned the sale and use of alcoholic beverages. The national ban spawned a blossoming of organized crime that is still plaguing the country. The prohibition was finally repealed, mainly because the federal government could not eradicate the bootleg booze industry operated by organized crime. By that time, the criminal gangs used the billions made to finance other illegal activities, one of which is supplying illegal drugs to those that use (need) it. I’m thinking legalizing pot would remove a major source of income to the criminal suppliers and would also generate additional revenue for the governments through licensing and sales tax revenues. Additional revenue could primarily be used to regulate the industry. At the same time, penalties for the possession, sale, and use of illegal pot would be increased to make it prohibitive for the criminal dealers. It could be the same enforcement guidelines and licensing regulations that keep alcohol production, sale, and use in check could be the template for the production, sale, and use for pot.

THIS WEEK’S SPECIAL EDITION… With the coming of spring comes the expectation of the warmer, sunnier days of summer. Even though this spring came later and colder, it was just a matter of time that the trees burst into green and the flowers into blossoms. That also means it’s time for the Record’s “Welcome summer to the Tri-Cities” special edition. This week more than 13,000 households in the school districts of Coloma, Hartford and Watervliet will get a copy of the Tri-City Record, plus our subscribers and newsstand patrons. I hope you all enjoy the regular news features of the paper and the special stories of places and summer events that make our Tri-City Area so wonderful. And, if you’re new to the paper, and like what you read, give us a call at 463-6397 and we’ll fix you up with a subscription. There’s also a subscription form on Page 4. You can also email Amy at tcrsubscriptions@gmail.com for an online subscription.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENTS… Also, in this week’s edition are a few special announcements that mean improvements and additions to the content. First and foremost, I’m pleased to announce the promotion of Amy (Bayer) Loshbough to Managing Editor.


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