Letters (June 19-26)

mailLet vets get care locally

Here is an idea that is making the rounds on the Internet. All veterans, all branches should be allowed to go to any hospital near their local residence for medical, dental and eye care. From Saugerties, the veterans have to go over 80 miles round-trip to be seen in the VA hospital. This is a long drive for most people who do not feel well, and even worse for a disabled older veteran.

The local VA clinics send veterans to the VA hospital for almost anything other than a minor ailment. Then they have to wait for weeks, sometimes months to have medical tests done, followed by another long amount of time before there is a doctor at the hospital to see them. In that wasted time, sick veterans could go from being ill to having an untreatable complication.

I have read the Veterans Choice Act of 2014. It is moving in the right direction, but only helps veterans who live more than 40 miles away from a medical facility of the department, including a community-based outpatient clinic, that is closest to the residence of the veteran. We have outpatient clinics, but that is where, at times, the veteran gets slowed down! There are some doctors who do not speak very good English, and many veterans cannot cope with a doctor who looks and sounds like the same race of people he went to war to fight, the same people he had seen kill his close friends. He is now informed that he must get an appointment with the VA hospital. The circus never seems to end.


So I feel more should be done. Can’t our local hospitals join forces with the VA and come up with a plan to cover veterans who need help? I am sure Medicare would be one insurance also covering in a good plan. Under certain circumstances there are times when a veteran can go to a local hospital, and the VA will cover the cost. I have no idea if this has ever happened in our area.

Barbara Terwilliger Ambrosano


All quiet on the Kiwanis front

For all those concerned about having the gun show in Saugerties, I am glad to report that nothing happened. I watched several firearms purchases and saw people fill out the forms for a background check and, once approved, given their new rifle or long gun. Most of the vendors provided free trigger locks and, in the case of pistols, people purchasing were told they had to wait to receive their new handgun until the item was placed on their permit.

No one was shot. The firearms did not jump off the table and hurt anyone. There were children with their parents at the show and kids on the soccer field, skateboard park and playground. We even had a surprise visit from Hank Williams Jr. and several country western singers performing at Country Fest at Hunter Mountain. Hank passed by to see what the gun show had to offer and visited several booths. Hank even stopped at my table, taking a look at some of the gear I had for sale. (I decided to get a table because I wanted to unload some extra military backpacks, bags, military clothing and other non-lethal tactical gear like holsters, chest rigs and pistol belts.) According to the negative comments from some in the community, I should have expected a mass shooting and hordes of criminals coming to the show. As a local newspaper columnist, I could not miss the opportunity to possibly see this type of violence happen.

Several of the firearms vendors purchased some last-minute items from the hardware store. I asked them, how was your trip to the hardware store? They said “fine.” I asked those vendors, if any hammers jumped off the shelves and hit you on the head or did the plumbing morph itself into a pipe bomb? They said “no.”

If I’m sounding a little cynical, that’s because I am.

I spoke to several Saugerties residents who may boycott a local store because of the anti-gun comments of its proprietor. I reminded them it’s their choice to boycott, but they would be affecting several of the employees who I know are responsible gun owners. That said, with responsibility comes accountability. Just like gun owners should be held responsible for their actions and not the guns, business owners should be held responsible for their actions and if those consumers decide not to patronize that business because of the view of management or owner, it’s the consumer’s choice to spend their money where they choose.

Santos Lopez


Author’s note

I greatly appreciated seeing Irene Rivera Hurst’s article about me and my book, The History of the Hudson River Valley: From Wilderness to the Civil War. I have enjoyed Irene’s writing and was happy to see that she would be doing a piece on me. Her scrupulous attention to detail reminded me of myself in my halcyon newspaper days.

It’s funny that I wince to see the book described as “local history,” which of course it is, because I always had in mind the notion that I was writing national history in its composition. All history is local, Lewis Mumford once said, even the greatest of it, and even though I may have imperfectly captured the sense of place that is the Hudson River Valley, its story is filled with great characters and events of American history. We were designated the first of the National Heritage Areas nations by Congress because this is “the landscape that defined America.”

The article was accompanied by headlines that incorrectly characterized the book as “volume one.” I am working on a continuation of the history, which I hope Overlook Press will publish in time, but this was never conceived as a volume one-volume two piece, and I think it is incorrect to call it that. Entering history, someone once said, is like penetrating a seamless web; once you are inside the seam closes around you and envelops you in its oneness.

Vernon Benjamin