We should elevate the current agency to the status of a State Department bureau.
Secretary of State John Kerry’s 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report ranks 188 countries on their efforts to combat human trafficking, including the United States (“U.S. puts Thailand, Malaysia on its human trafficking blacklist,” June 20).
This incredibly important diplomatic tool is compiled each year by the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP Office). Countries that fail to deal adequately with their human trafficking problem can be placed on “Tier 3” and face U.S. sanctions. To protect the integrity of this report from other political or diplomatic concerns, I believe the TIP Office should be upgraded to a State Department bureau, which can be done without any added cost or bureaucracy.
The enduring crime of slavery is so monstrous — and sadly, so prevalent, with nearly 30 million slaves in the world today — that this office needs to be of the same stature as other State Department bureaus that address issues like arms control, the environment and narcotics. I strongly support legislation being considered in the House and Senate that would make the TIP Office a bureau, and I hope our entire Minnesota delegation will cosponsor this bill and push for its passage.
Rachel Jeffries, Chanhassen
Take it from one who was there: No war
Steven Boyer’s commentary on the horrors of a wartime burn unit is an important piece that I would like to expand on from another perspective (“Horrors of the wartime burn unit,” June 26). As one of many drafted and sent to Vietnam, I saw the horror and fear firsthand. I was not physically wounded; however, the fear left a lasting psychological impact. I watched as men around me were wounded. I never knew what became of them after they were medevac’d out for care.
What I witnessed affected my attitude toward war. For a decade plus, as I visited the VA hospital, I was told to talk with other vets about our experiences. I could not talk. I only wanted to forget. I kept my stories to myself and wrote of my fear and hatred in notebooks. I guess that was my release. It took decades to come to terms with my experiences. When I hear Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s story, I recall that I, too, thought of walking away, but I also knew to walk away would make no sense. I waited anxiously for my tour to end.
It is hard to believe that politicians who have had war experiences themselves want to wage war time after time. How many American lives are they willing to risk? Take a look at the result of the last 10 years. The VA hospitals are overburdened and Congress is not willing to fund better care, but is willing to spend enormous amounts of taxpayer money to wage war. We need to stop feeding the military industrial complex and emphasize domestic concerns.
Thomas Sanchez, Chanhassen
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I had an appointment at the VA Hospital this week. It felt like nothing has changed; it is business as usual. I expected something different. I saw a specialist on this visit. I told him I wished he was my primary doctor, because it’s always so difficult to get into the primary care clinic. I don’t even know if my primary doctor remembers me. My doctor indicated that he understood that there’s still a lack of funds to operate the primary clinic. There are all these stories about how things are going to change at the VA to help the veteran. Perhaps funding primary care would be a start — and do it today, not tomorrow. If we can fund rebels in Syria with $500 million, can’t we find some money so I can get my blood pressure checked without waiting a month?
Tim Connelly, Richfield
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I was appalled at the recent flood coverage from Harriet Island in St. Paul. I witnessed my living and breathing U.S. flag in peril from floodwaters. I have witnessed my living and breathing U.S. flag with our soldiers’ blood on it flying over combat outposts in war zones that were raised and lowered each day and kept from harm’s way. Whoever is in charge of those flags on Harriet Island should be ashamed of themselves. Read the code of the flag that my friends have died for and then try and tell me I’m wrong.
Mike Stevens, Menahga, Minn.
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.