Gays in the military might not work everywhere

To the editor:

As a retired Naval officer with 33 years of service, both enlisted and commissioned, I would like to comment on what I believe would be the impact on enlisted sailors as a result of the current initiative to overturn the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

While I agree that sexual orientation does not matter in ground force engagements, air-to-air combat, or war at sea, I believe that we are not considering the day-to-day consequences of allowing openly homosexual individuals to serve, particularly aboard small combatants. My question is: Would you be comfortable having an openly gay or lesbian sharing your bedroom, sharing your restroom/shower facilities, and dressing or changing clothes with you with no privacy whatsoever?

Having lived in close quarters on small ships for extended periods as both an enlisted member and an officer, I know that I would be very uncomfortable with the situation. Unlike serving ashore, sailors at sea cannot choose to live off base if they don’t like their environment or roommates, nor can they divorce themselves for short periods by going to a more private area on the base, because on small ships, there aren’t any.

As an aside, I was a new lieutenant when the Navy opened up all positions to women, as women officers did not have the same opportunities as their male counterparts. Prior to that decision, enlisted women served only in clerical type positions, but as the policy change affected all women in the Navy, enlisted women now had to be assigned as deck seamen working in all the necessary but dirty jobs topside, and as firemen working in hot, dirty conditions in the engineering spaces, among others. As a result of this new policy, I had the dubious honor of sitting on numerous court-martials for young women who thought they had enlisted for clerical positions, and did not want to be assigned to these “new opportunities” for enlisted women.

My point is, the upper echelon often makes decisions based on their perception of the organization overall, without realizing the sometimes adverse effects on enlisted personnel.

Sam Brennan


Get a ride

To the editor:

Last week’s fatal accident in Laughlin is one more tragic example of the limited choices seniors have for transportation. Too often, seniors face giving up their lives if they give up their car keys, even if it is unsafe for them to drive. The alternative is isolation at home.

Fortunately, that situation is about to change in the Las Vegas Valley. A new senior transportation program is being established. ITNLasVegasValley will provide rides to seniors who are more than 60 years old and visually impaired adults who become members. The best part is that the rides will be available at any time, anywhere for any purpose without exception.

The plan is for service to start in Henderson next month, and expand across the valley over a five-year growth period.

For more information, log on to

Fran Smith


Insurance costs

To the editor:

When the family budget needs to be trimmed, you don’t get rid of the youngest kid. You cut expenses. If a government needs to trim its budget, why doesn’t it look at the expenses?

If you look at the Clark County School District’s current budget on its Web site, a half-billion dollars are spent on employee benefits. Deduct their retirement and other payroll taxes and it leaves $200 million (that’s with eight zeroes) for group health insurance. Health insurance is on the table for a family cutting its budget. Why not for governments? Could it be some well-paying jobs/commissions for well-connected people might be adversely affected?

If given the choice between a pay cut/layoff and a reduction in health insurance, most people will go for the paycheck. The district pays more than $500 a month for each employee. If you go online, a 40-year-old male can get decent coverage for $148 a month from several big companies. That’s a $65 million savings without anyone losing their jobs or their safety net.

LaMonte Howard


Capital projects

To the editor:

Nevada has $4.2 billion in government agencies’ accounts — including cities, counties and water authorities — earmarked for public works projects. Nevada has an $881 million shortfall in its current budget.

I understand we are many years behind in infrastructure, but if we cut money and jobs at UMC, at our colleges, at our public schools (resulting in a shorter school year which will create myriad problems) and for other current programs, we will have to increase funding for unemployment, create more foreclosures, be forced to increase Medicaid funding and lose many residents who will move to another state where they have a better chance of finding a job, where they can receive better health care and where their children will receive a better education.

If we take $1 billion from these agency funds, however, to close the budget shortfall, that will still leave more than $3 billion for jobs for public works projects such as roads, parks, buildings, water and sewer systems and upgrading schools.

Deep cuts proposed by Gov. Jim Gibbons will cover only about $418 million of the funds needed, leaving another $480 million to be found.

I hope in November we will elect a sensible governor with foresight who will increase taxes so that the burden will be much less painful and equally shared by all Nevadans.

I would think this money in our own state agencies’ coffers is a godsend for Nevada’s rainy day and a much better solution in this time of economic desperation than causing upheaval in the lives of Nevadans.

Gail Munford


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