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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I served in the U.S. Navy from February '87 until February '91. I served the better part of that time overseas in the Philippines working as a postal clerk at the Fleet Mail Center, Subic Bay.

I still wear my dog tags all the time, and sometimes people will see them and ask, "Were you over there?" (meaning Saudi Arabia), and I say, "No, I was in the Philippines most of the time." Then they say, "Oh," like "No big deal."

I can speak for most of the people I worked with that it was no picnic. Several coup attempts took place while I was there. (A Marine sergeant was killed about three blocks from my house.)

Abby, I would like people to know that even though we weren't "over there," we did our part during the Gulf crisis. -- SAILOR TAYLOR

DEAR SAILOR: You make an excellent point. Every man and woman who served in any branch of the armed forces -- whether or not they were in a shooting war -- did their part.

Time away from one's family is no picnic, whether one is serving in "the Gulf" or Gulfport, Miss.

DEAR ABBY: This concerns "Illinois Victim," who was being beaten by a man in her yard, and the neighbor who didn't even call the police. His comment ("I didn't want to get involved") interested me.

Some time ago, I saw a driver who appeared to be drunk cause a serious accident. I immediately called the police to tell them I had seen an accident; no one even wanted to take my name or telephone number. After 10 calls, one hour later, someone grudgingly took my name and phone number, saying, "Someone will call you."

Nobody called until six months later, when I got a subpoena through the mail demanding that I appear in court. In large letters was this threat: "IF YOU FAIL TO APPEAR IN COURT A WARRANT WILL BE ISSUED FOR YOUR ARREST."

Abby, in the school where I teach, if a teacher takes a day off, the teacher must pay the substitute. I got a substitute for the day of the trial, only to be called that morning at 8:30 a.m. and told that the case had been postponed! It was too late to cancel the substitute, so I lost that day's pay.

Yesterday, I got a notice for the next court date, which means I will have to hire another substitute. Now do you wonder why no one wants to "get involved"? I am being treated more like a criminal than a witness! After six months, I hardly remember what happened, and because I wanted to be a good citizen, I am now being penalized. Please comment. -- SUN CITY, ARIZ.

DEAR SUN CITY: As an eyewitness, your testimony could be crucial in this case, so please don't abandon your responsibility as a good citizen.

And by the way, whatever happened to one's constitutional right to a speedy trial? "Justice delayed is justice denied," said William Gladstone, who was prime minister of England in the late 1800s.

But, of course, our courts were not as clogged in the late 1800s as they are today.

What teen-agers need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with their peers and parents is now in Abby's updated, expanded booklet, "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

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