As a proud disabled veteran who has served our country, I know first-hand how daunting of a task simple access to healthcare is for my fellow brothers and sisters in arms. I am concerned about the ongoing crisis in healthcare for veterans; that demands attention and action.

One of the most pressing issues is the long wait times for appointments and treatments. Many of us veterans face delays of weeks or even months before receiving essential medical care. These prolonged waits can worsen our health conditions and cause unnecessary suffering. I have personally waited several months for approval to receive an MRI for a problem that needed a surgical operation to repair. The lack of adequate resources and personnel in veteran healthcare facilities is, at times, alarming. We need sufficient funding and staffing levels to ensure that every veteran receives the high-quality care we deserve, especially in a timely manner. Our healthcare system must be equipped to meet the unique and often complex needs of veterans.

Veterans are often referred to external healthcare systems to receive care “quicker” than being seen in VA clinics. This also occurs often due to the lack of internal specialty resources offered. Being referred to external providers often creates a longer gap of care for veterans due to the need to “compete” for appointments with the general population. I urge our elected officials and healthcare leaders to prioritize veteran healthcare reform. It is time to invest in comprehensive solutions that enhance access to services, reduce wait times, and provide the specialized care and support that veterans need and deserve by improving staffing.

Veterans have served our nation with honor and courage. Now, it is time for our nation to stand up and ensure that our healthcare system stands up for us.

— Sara Bargo, Oshkosh, Wisconsin

Trump’s views on abortion

I am responding to the column by Clarence Page, “Trump put himself in an anti-abortion trap that he’s yet to escape” in the April, 10 Chicago Tribune. Over the years Trump has taken several differing positions on abortion. In truth, Trump has no personal view on abortion nor would he unless he needed one for himself. Consequently he will come out with the position which he feels will gain him the most benefit at the time. It really doesn’t matter because the position he takes now may or may not have any bearing on what he will actually do should he become president.

— Jerome C. Yanoff, Chicago

Property tax freeze

Rep. Jesus “Chuy” García, Senator Dick Durbin, Senator Tammy Duckworth,

What we retired Illinois residents need is a realistic income threshold to be able to freeze our property taxes. Every time we get a dismal cost-of-living-adustment increase our insurance increases to the point that we take one step backward against inflation. Our real estate taxes are being reassessed every three years at delusional rates to the point that we can’t remain in our homes any longer. As senior citizens we have earned the right to be able live out our lives in our own homes without being forced out by outrageous taxes. I have served our country in the Army and paid taxes during my working years only to eventually become homeless in my old age.

— John Reichert, La Grange Park

Reduce mail delivery

With today’s technology, the post office needs to reduce residential delivery to three days a week. Allow postal workers to work four, ten hour shifts . Implementing this reduced delivery schedule will reduce vehicle maintenance costs and harmful emissions. Postal employees will enjoy an extra day off each week.

— Elliot Cohen, Lincolnshire 

Foraging and food literacy

I spend a lot of time outdoors, whether kayaking Wolf River, hiking Clark Creek, or walking in my neighborhood in Memphis, Tennessee. Sometimes, on these adventures in nature, I come across ready-to-eat foods. Many people wouldn’t realize the blackberry bush they walked past is just as edible as the berries in Trader Joe’s. There’s a reason for this, which stems from racism, as do many things in American history. Food is not merely sustenance; it’s inherently political, and it’s essential to learn the history and importance of food literacy.

Foraging has deep roots in both Native American and African American histories. Enslaved Africans often relied on foraging, learning the practice from Native Americans. It became a vital aspect of the African American experience, spanning their first 250 years in America, whether free or enslaved, providing meals and a source of income.

However, throughout history, food has been wielded as a tool for power and control, from colonialism to slavery. Those in power manipulated food systems to maintain dominance over marginalized groups.

After the Emancipation Proclamation (though total freedom was not achieved until Juneteenth), laws were enacted to restrict African Americans from foraging, aiming to bind them to newly escaped plantations financially. Consequently, over time, these essential skills were collectively forgotten.

Moreover, the idea of foraging as a primitive practice has been perpetuated by dominant cultural norms, further marginalizing those who continue to engage in it. The spread of supermarkets and industrial agriculture has created a disconnect between consumers and the origins of their food, creating a culture of convenience at the expense of environmental sustainability and food sovereignty.

In urban environments, the absence of fruit-bearing trees and edible landscapes worsens food deserts, disproportionately affecting low-income communities and communities of color. Access to free, nutritious foods is not merely a matter of personal choice but a fundamental human right.

Addressing these systemic inequities requires a multifaceted approach prioritizing food justice, environmental stewardship and cultural preservation. Education is crucial in empowering individuals to reclaim their ancestral knowledge and reconnect with the land.

Furthermore, policymakers must prioritize implementing sustainable urban agriculture initiatives and equitable land-use policies to ensure all communities can access fresh, locally-grown produce. Integrating edible landscapes into urban planning can promote biodiversity, lessen climate change, and foster community.

Ultimately, the revival of foraging and the promotion of food literacy are about nourishing our bodies and souls and reclaiming our collective heritage.

— Brandon LaGrone Jr., Memphis, Tennessee

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