A Few Good Letters
Ex communication: Job well done on your cover story ("Welcome Back, Warrior," Paul Rubin, November 21). As a former Marine, I would like to take the opportunity to enlighten you on a couple things. Remember in the movie A Few Good Men, the line went something about the Marines being fanatics, and it was asked what they were fanatics about. The answer was they were fanatics about being Marines.
Heard the rule "Once a Marine, always a Marine"? Most people could care less about the traditions of a group they are not a member of. However, being a Marine, I would like to point out something you may already know. There are NO ex-Marines. We are "former" Marines. Likely, we are not soldiers. We leave soldiering up to the Army. We're Marines and, after dedicating myself to protect my country, I, as all Marines, would prefer to be referred to as a Marine and not a soldier. It's tragic what happened to Callan, and in his memory and in his honor, I felt you may appreciate knowing how he would liked to have been written about. Thank you for making everyone aware about the events surrounding an American Warrior Marine whose life ended far too early. Semper fi.
An "ex" what?: I read the article in this week's issue about the Marine. I'm an ex-Marine myself and felt that the article was well written and very accurate. There are numerous veterans that fall through the VA system. I am in my 20s and I find that there are some good VAs and some lousy ones, just like any hospital. There are a lot of people with different degrees of mental instability, and even people close to them might or might not know. I haven't read a good article like this one in a while.
I also like your paper as well. You guys seem to uncover and take a different side than a lot of magazines or newspapers would. I salute your efforts, and keep up the good work.
Praising awareness: Poignant and riveting exposé! Thank you for your in-depth coverage! An awareness could help prevent another veteran's death. This spotlights the necessity for a major overhaul of the Veterans Administration's procedures with respect to so-called "treatment," overmedicating and denial tendencies towards its vets. If the "powers that be" see change as imminent and take measures, then Brian will have accomplished something he was incapable of while living!
Sensationalism: I am writing to express my disappointment in the Phoenix New Times' decision to allow reporter Paul Rubin to exploit the tragic suicide of Brian Callan in the article "Welcome Back Warrior." It is understandable that members of Mr. Callan's family might look for others to blame for this catastrophe, as expressed by one of Mr. Callan's brothers, who blamed the tragedy on "those pigs at the dealership, and their total greed." However, I would have hoped reporter Rubin would take a less emotional view of the matter and not exploit this family's pain and sorrow to create sensational journalism.
Are we to believe that Mr. Rubin is better qualified to assess the treatment method on a 100 percent psychologically disabled veteran than both a trained psychiatrist and clinical psychologist simply because he read an article in the New England Journal of Medicine and spoke to a member of NAMI? This is like the guy qualified to investigate your background because he clipped a PI's license out of a Dick Tracy comic book. Mr. Rubin's arrogant self-promotion to expert status on psychological matters would almost be laughable if it were not so hurtful.
There are avenues through which the family may seek justice if it is believed that the Veterans Administration mishandled Mr. Callan's case. However, there is no justice in Mr. Rubin's article. There is only exploitation of a family's grief and the dragging of professional people's names through the mud based on the reporter's amateur analysis.
If ever there is a proper inquiry held to examine Mr. Callan's treatment by the Veterans Administration -- and those professionals named in Mr. Rubin's article were found to have acted properly -- I hope Mr. Rubin is as quick to write a front page article clearing their names. However, I doubt the Phoenix New Times will run such an article on the front page, because it will lack the sensationalism of Mr. Callan's heartbreaking story.
My sympathy goes to all those who knew and loved Laurence Brian Callan II. May he finally rest in peace.
Sensational: Paul Rubin, take a bow! Your feature "Welcome Back, Warrior" was perhaps the finest example of journalism I've read in the New Times. You captured the life and death of Brian Callan in such a way that I was nearly moved to tears -- tears of both sadness for a decorated Marine and anger toward the Veterans Administration that was supposed to help Chief Warrant Officer Callan overcome his "demons."
Brian Callan should still be alive. The VA failed him with ineffective medications and insufficient psychotherapy. They failed him with red tape. They failed him as they have countless thousands of other military veterans, including my own father. The sales staff at Bell Road Toyota merely pushed him over the edge, but for that, they should still bear some responsibility in the act that took CWO Callan's life.
Our society has come to identify post traumatic stress disorder largely with Vietnam War veterans. However, CWO Callan and other Desert Storm vets have developed the mental disorder that will forever change their perspective on life in general.
Paul Rubin delivered a masterpiece of journalistic expression. This is the kind of very powerful writing that those of us who are regular readers of the New Times have come to expect from Mr. Rubin. The Callan family owes Mr. Rubin a debt of gratitude for allowing the rest of us to learn what an incredible man Brian Callan was.
Veterans such as CWO Callan and my own father, a 22-year Navy vet, will continue to be given the short end of the stick as long as there is little or no accountability within the system. We have seen it through veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and other military campaigns. If we do go to war against Iraq, I fear we will have hundreds more veterans who will experience some degree of the frustration, despair and hopelessness Brian Callan felt.
Thank you, Mr. Rubin. I take my hat off to you, sir!
Aid in America: I just finished reading your article on Brian Callan and wanted to thank you for the superior job on it! When are these vets going to get some real help? My God.
Health scare: Thanks to Paul Rubin exposing the shoddy health care dispensed to our vets at the VA. The most neglected and pushed around are the mentally ill. Paul may be interested to know that the Arizona Veterans Services is still up to tricks to shortchange disabled vets whose finances are managed by this group. I and others fear retaliation for speaking out and challenging their questionable actions. Paul Rubin could write a story a week about these poor vets, and yet there is no help politically or legally. Please withhold my name from publication as I fear reprisals.
Name withheld by request
Surrendering all hope: Please thank Paul Rubin for his in-depth comprehensive report on the heroic life and tragic death of Brian Callan. Good people like Brian continue to volunteer to serve in our military in spite of our shameful lack of post-military care. VA hospitals continue to provide inadequate care to the very individuals who place their own lives on the front lines for our sense of freedom. Having been given a full medical disability and discharged with honors, surely at the very least, Brian's progress in civilian life should have been monitored more closely than once every four months. There should be a team of PTSD professionals who dedicate themselves to one-on-one intensive nurturing care. The red flag could not have been waved bigger by Brian. His pleas for help ignored, the red flag turned white. Brian had to surrender to the enemy he could not fight alone.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Brotherly love: I've just this morning read your article about my brother Brian in its entirety -- have only really been able to read it piecemeal until now. THANK YOU. You obviously put forth a tremendous effort in the researching of his story, and I am quite proud and very very sad. Well, and angry. My emotional cup is not just running over; it is knocked over and spilled everywhere and not in a good way! I have forwarded via e-mail the article to those friends who I know are interested and who have computers. Again, THANK YOU. Mom says there may be some follow-up stuff in an upcoming issue of New Times. Please keep me posted if this is true.
Smells like preteen spirit: Your article titled "A Big Brain on Bad Sex" (Speakeasy, Robrt L. Pela, November 21) presents to the general public the potential damage to civil liberties posed by all citizen-backed referendums. Proposition 103, a.k.a. "Chris' Law," is an egregious assault on the average citizen's protection from prosecutorial misconduct. The author of this bill was a 12-year-old preteen when he came up with the concept of this referendum. He is so unexperienced in the facts of the real world that he wants a career in politics so he can continue to damage his fellow citizens who do not share his peculiar political beliefs. Not only is this kid so young that I suspect that he barely has any miles on his life experience odometer, but I suspect that he still has amniotic fluid behind his ears! This referendum represents a prosecutor's wet dream come true. Now prosecutors will deny any alleged sex offender bail based on this ultimate example of referendum malpractice. Bail is meant to ensure appearance in court and is not meant to be a punishment. Anyone can be falsely accused of sexual misconduct in our state. Prohibitively high bonds or no bond denies the ALLEGED offender the opportunity to actively work on his/her defense. Prosecutors will now be able to incarcerate virtually all alleged offenders. By doing so, they deny the accused the opportunity to interact with their family and supporter. Prosecutors will continue to obstruct access to their attorneys and private detectives. They will read all in- and outgoing mail and will monitor and record all outgoing phone calls in an effort to destroy the accused's civil liberties. This poorly conceived referendum puts a "ball and chain on the brain" of the accused. The ingénue who wrote this bill is home-schooled. I urge him to leave the cloistered world of Mommy and Daddy and get exposed to the reality of the world.
Name withheld by request
A Matter of Taste
Critic acclaim: It's absolutely amazing to me that there is so much animosity toward your entertaining restaurant critic. The guy who wrote in to complain about the review of Iguana Mack's just made me laugh (Letters, November 21). "If I were the editor, I would seriously consider providing Ms. Sweet with additional journalism training -- she sorely needs it." Um, last time I checked, restaurant reviewers are supposed to be opinionated. She didn't like the food; get over it. Just because this guy "knows the owners" and is upset that they didn't get a sparkling review is no reason to personally lambast the critic. I've been to Iguana Mack's. Totally boring food. So Carey tells it like it is, then she gets hate mail for doing her job in a nonbiased way, which is holding to a much higher standard of journalistic ethics than shilling for friends' restaurants, which is what "name withheld" seems to feel is the way to go in food criticism.
Then there's James, who feels Carey Sweet is "hate-filled, mean-spirited and deeply depressed." I think she's got a good eye for trying food, atmosphere and wit together in a column, and the sour grapes people, who no doubt have personal ties to the restaurants (or phone companies) whose honor they defend so vigorously, should go back and take ethics training classes on journalistic objectivity before lashing out so irrationally again.
Law Law Land
An officer and not-so-gentle man: As a former Arizona resident, I occasionally go to your Web site to catch up on recent news and developments pertaining to the state. Recently, there have been numerous articles about Sheriff Joe Arpaio's more-than-questionable antics. Although I am well aware that there are two sides to every story, and that media relating is not always objective and free of ulterior motives, I am absolutely appalled at what I am reading. In the time that I was in the Phoenix area, I always felt as though Arizona was somewhat disconnected to the rest of the country, be it geographic, moral or political in nature. As I am no longer in the area, I have no gauge on what public opinion towards the sheriff currently is. But what I do know is that the good people of Arizona deserve way better than the sheriff and his posse. The hypocrisy of his moral posturing is disgusting. I would hope that Arizona residents are somehow, some way, laying the political groundwork for his (God willing) unsuccessful reelection bid, because the only person truly guilty of impersonating an officer of the law is Joe Arpaio himself.
The emperor's flub: As a tax-and-spend, Paul Wellstone-mourning Northern Liberal, I was sorry to see Bill Gallo take such a reflexive stand on The Emperor's Club ("Great Caesar's Ghost," November 21).
Right-wing bugaboos like Bennett, Falwell and W may indeed enjoy the movie, but it is disingenuous to suggest that to applaud The Emperor's Club is equivalent to supporting these men's agendas or values.
When I saw this film last night at Superstition Springs 25, there was a packed house. After the food fight, a party of junior high students noisily exited. That was a pity.
The Emperor's Club is nostalgic for an ideal which was seldom if ever reached, but one I believe that more than 3 percent of current teachers still hold dear. Excellence in teaching and achievement in learning are ideals which do change and ennoble us. They are not a dead language.
I cherish the "mustier" teachers and professors throughout my career. I learned very little from those who wanted to be my pal. Acquiring a command of information and detail gave me advantages that classes then deemed relevant failed to provide.
Please understand that progressive people do not dismiss education that provides the power to comprehend the world in terms wider than the pop culture of the day. To dismiss this empowering tool is a truly reactionary behavior.
Cash crop: It is so painstakingly obvious that the moralists and the "extra" law enforcement bureaucrats are keeping pot illegal that it nauseates me ("Reefer Mainstream," Amy Silverman, October 31).
We could balance the budget in a nanosecond if pot were legal. Few, if any, people don't smoke pot because it's illegal. I don't smoke because I don't want to; legal has nothing to do with it. I don't drink, either.
If we want to lower the burden on the judicial, jail and law enforcement systems while increasing revenues into the billions over the next 10 years for education (the three "R's" and drug ed), let's legalize pot. I'd rather deal with a stoner than a drunk any day!
"McPuff" the Crime Dog says: "Take a bite out of organized crime -- legalize pot." Why should organized crime make billions and we get nothing?
Smoke and mirrors: Although your writing may be heralded and your journalistic style praised, I have to raise my eyebrow at a comment you made in your sidebar ("Smoking Section," Amy Silverman, October 31): "Only one of the responses was at all negative about smoking marijuana."
Why on God's "green" earth would you need to print something like that? If you were seeking out "secret pot smokers," don't you think they would have already accentuated the positive by succumbing to the oh-so-enticing cannabis in the first place?
I understand that you're making an effort for us to "Get over it," which could only lead me to believe you are a toker as well.
If that's your bag of hash, great, but I think you're fully capable of providing a sound argument rather than profiling a bunch of "normal" people and then telling us to get over it.
My only question for you: What did your article achieve?
Get the Weekly Newsletter
Our weekly feature stories, movie reviews, calendar picks and more - minus the newsprint and sent directly to your inbox.