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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I recently started to work at a pharmacy as an intern, and I go home every night frustrated to tears by what I see in a day's work.

There are medical claims, hundreds of them daily. Many are for preventable sicknesses that could be cured by over-the-counter drugs. Some people abuse the emergency rooms just to get prescriptions necessary for Medicaid. An example is cough syrup. Once again, the system pays a couple of hundred dollars for a child with a common cold whose parents wouldn't spring the $3.99 it would cost for a bottle of cough syrup.

Abby, some people are so uneducated they don't know how to take the medicine. (Have you ever known anyone to eat a suppository?)

I got a call the other day from a girl who asked me whether or not she's pregnant when there are two blue lines on the stick. (She's 12 years old and didn't know how to read a package insert to take the pregnancy test!)

Wait -- there's more. The abuse of the system isn't happening only in health care and pharmacy; we had a job available that women applied for via the unemployment office just to get their papers signed so they could keep drawing welfare or unemployment benefits. Some people have even tried to use food stamps to pay for narcotics!

I am so disgusted -- maybe I'll move to Canada. -- ANGELA IN SAVANNAH

DEAR ANGELA: Please don't move to Canada. We need people like you in the U.S.A.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a soldier currently deployed to Bosnia for Operation Joint Endeavor. I just received an "Any Soldier" box from American Legion Post 1976 in Virginia. I am touched by the goodness of so many of my fellow American citizens who still go out of their way to do a good deed, especially when they do it for strangers. Their mail means so much to those of us who are away from our families and loved ones.

We received shipments of books from the Red Cross, Soldier of Fortune magazine, publishers' warehouses and also from private citizens. All of the special packages, letters, pictures and good will are inspiring during one of the most difficult times in our lives.

With a little faith and luck -- and a lot of patience -- I will return to my 7-month-old daughter and my "Mr. Mom" nondeployed soldier husband.

I want to thank all who participated in this mail campaign for their generosity and kindness in remembering the military forces behind the mission. I will be leaving here in September, but many of my co-workers will be here for more than a year. I ask that your readers continue to remember them. -- 1ST LT. EMILY C. FELVUS, LUKAVAC, BOSNIA

P.S. We read you daily in "The Stars and Stripes."

DEAR ABBY: There is so much hate and violence in this world, but it can be reduced if we all work together. It would be helpful if we had more examples of kindness after which to pattern our behavior.

A friend of mine performed one of those examples of kindness when she took my 84-year-old mother, who has Alzheimer's disease, fishing. It made Mother laugh and enjoy the outdoors. I have a full-time caretaker for Mom, but my friend gave my mother a special treat.

I think it would be nice if you ask your readers to write to you about kind things done for them and publish a series of these acts of kindness. Goodness knows there is media coverage about plenty of bad things, so if you offset those with good news, it would be very inspiring. Please think about it. -- JUANITA BAKER, VERO BEACH, FLA.

DEAR JUANITA: You have done me a kindness with your compassionate suggestion. Readers, please let me hear from you.

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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