Letters from the week of April 5

Feature: “Capitol Bully,” March 29

What He Wants

I seldom respond to any of the items I read. I simply accept, dispute or go on with my day. But Justin Kendall’s article on Kansas Sen. Jim Barone was an exception! I have to compliment Kendall on his coverage and attention to detail in the article. This is what I want in journalism. Kendall is an extremely gifited journalist in his ability to identify and explain events.

I seldom read the Pitch. However, I’ll look for Kendall’s future work.

Mike Bixler, Kansas City, Kansas

Feature: “Oval Office Ambush,” March 8 All He Could Be

Ben Paynter did a great job of capturing my son’s story, and I thank him and the Pitch for taking a look at the life of an Iraq war vet. I think Alexis went into the Army hoping he might make a difference. Maybe telling his story is one way to do that.

I grew up on stories of disabled World War II-era vets fighting for decent medical treatment from the VA, and I have two uncles now in their 80s still fighting the VA battle. The military-medical system is stretched beyond its limits, and it’s under congressional investigation after Washington Post reporting on Walter Reed Hospital and much lobbying by Iraq war vets. I wonder if real change will be possible.

I wish my son had never listened to the military recruiters who came to his high school talking about training that’s relevant in civilian life, lifelong health and education benefits, and experience that would help him be all he could be. I’m trying not to wonder whether, if I’d been a better mom, he wouldn’t have touched drugs and would have tried computer graphics or Americorps instead of the Army. It doesn’t help to know that thousands of other parents ask themselves the same questions.

Combine imperfect people and imperfect institutions, and the yield will be seriously imperfect. Every day, injured soldiers return from Iraq to suffer more than they should. Like Alexis, many of them saw the Army as a path to independence. So far, the closest my son has come to his goal is a little town in Missouri. Ben’s research didn’t provide easy answers, and I knew there was no reason to hope that it would. But the future’s a story that’s not written yet. Maybe there’s still time to work on it. Thalia Doukas, College Park, Maryland

Feature: “The Power of Half a Brain,” March 1

The Unthinkable

I was touched by Carolyn Szczepanski’s article on Olivia Johnson because it hit really close to home. My son has had seizures since he was 4 months old. We have tried every seizure medication a child can be on, including one imported from Canada. We also had the vagal nerve stimulator put in two years ago. In May 2001, we went to St. Louis for his first surgery. They only disconnected the right half of his brain at that point. It worked for five months, and then the seizures came back different. Then, in June 2006, we went to Cleveland to have the right half removed. It also changed his seizures. He still has them, but we went from giving him Valium every day for prolonged seizures to him having shorter, less-intense and less-frequent seizures. I am glad that we did everything we’ve done because he is better than he was. I just wish we could have had a better outcome. Good luck to the families in the story. I hope they all continue to do well.

Annique Mullins, Lee’s Summit

Fat Mouth, March 22

Plate Shift

Tsk, tsk, Charles Ferruzza, your ignorance is showing once again. If you eat a plate lunch in Hawaii, guess what? You don’t get a fancy china plate. No, you get Styrofoam — maybe a plate instead of a clamshell, but it’s still Styrofoam — and plastic silverware and throw-away chopsticks.

I’m a bit disappointed in Max and Kim Chao for bowing to the uppity Johnson County mentality. Their food is excellent, and going to Ohana Hawaiian Grill is like Sunday afternoon in Honolulu. When the hell are you going to understand that it’s not about the ambience; it’s about the food? Julie Hines, Kansas City, Kansas

Fat Mouth, March 1

Mac Attack

A million thanks to you, Mr. Macaluso, for your parting words to those cheapskates who left such a crappy tip and declared they do it all the time. I would like to add to Macaluso’s request that they never visit his restaurant again: Please don’t ever grace any restaurant with your shallow presence. How can somebody do that? I cannot even begin to understand such stupid rationale. Just please stay home, you freakin’ fatheads!

Kristin Howard, Shawnee