We read in the Banner that as many as 40 Veterans may have died in Phoenix because they could not get needed care at the VA hospital. This is truly outrageous (surely an overused adjective but probably better than disgraceful). We must do better for our Veterans.

Here is another statistic that you may or may not want to know depending on your political mindset. It is estimated that in 2013 there were over 40,000 Americans (not a misprint) who died because they had no health insurance and could not access health care in a timely manner. This is similarly outrageous.

I long for the day when we Americans are smart enough to elect leaders who can translate outrage into action. The action that we need is improved Medicare for all. Everybody in, nobody out.

G. RICHARD DUNDAS

Bennington

Reconsider downtown taxing district

I believe it is time for the Select Board to give the citizens of Bennington the opportunity to reconsider our downtown taxing district. If the Select Board is really serious about attracting new businesses and rebuilding our downtown, they must examine this issue. For the last several years we have pursued one strategy to try to revitalize down town, but this has not produced results satisfactory to anyone. The Select Board and the town manager who control the $70,000 that is collected and given to the Better Bennington Corporation should consider exactly what we’re getting in return for this expenditure of resources.

I believe that this is a regressive tax that penalizes our downtown merchants and does not produce proportionate returns for them. If the Select Board does not have the courage to reallocate that money, then it should be put to a revote of the citizens of Bennington. Our downtown and our merchants deserve at least that much consideration. And the citizens of Bennington deserve more than a continuation of what can only be described as a static status-quo policy.

MIKE BETHEL

Bennington

Children and women first -- Lyme and ticks

Fact: Children are highest risk for Lyme and TBDs. Women are second.

But WHY are women second? I suspect it has something to do with a phone call from a female friend who had to relieve herself, went behind some bushes, and a few hours later found an embedded tick on her thigh.

(Embedded means the head -- not the entire body -- is buried and stuck on with tick glue. This requires gentle and constant tugging as close to skin as possible with pointy tweezers or a tick tool. The release is sudden, so be prepared! Clean up with alcohol, wash hands, ID tick/put in freezer in sealed baggie, photo the tick bite.)

So what are children and females to do when they just have to go? Plan ahead! Make pit stops throughout your day so you are not caught in the out-and-about. Carry tick repellent in your car to spray on clothing if you venture behind the bushes or rub on the exposed parts. Women, do not squat. Don’t be too modest -- assume a bent over standing position and have a friend shield you from the public. Help your kids -- if little hold them up, and if bigger show them how to stand and pee backwards. If you just can’t hold it, consider the most revolting thing you can imagine, yup, and change your clothing later. If that is too much info for you, make sure you do a thorough tick check immediately afterward, before you get in the car, put your clothes in the dryer for 30-60 min., get in the shower and scrub any loose ticks away and check for any that are embedded (and I mean where the sun don’t shine!). This reduces your chance of getting Lyme or another TBD by 80 percent. And have a nice day!

B. ROSE

Barre