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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My son is 24 and was honorably discharged as a corporal after a four-year enlistment in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was deployed twice to Iraq. Since his return he has been attending community college, but he lacks the focus and is bored. He has recently announced that he would like to return to the military.

When he approached the Marine recruiter to re-enlist, he was told he's ineligible due to tattoos on his arms. After four years of honorable and devoted service, this rejection is insulting. He has announced to family that he will pursue enlistment in the French Foreign Legion next year.

This is very distressing to me, and I'm sick with worry about his well-being. I do not want him to go off to fight in a foreign military. Can you offer any words of wisdom? -- WORRIED MOM IN GAINESVILLE, FLA.

DEAR WORRIED MOM: Encourage your son to explore enlistment opportunities with other branches of the U.S. military regarding their tattoo policies. However, while you and I might consider his desire to join the French Foreign Legion to be an extreme overreaction to his rejection by the Marines, as an adult he has a right to make that choice. If he goes through with his plan, he may see less action than he would as a member of the U.S. military.

While I can't make this easier for you as a parent, I do have this advice to offer. Tell your son it would be in his best interest to learn some basic French before he goes.

DEAR ABBY: My twin sister and I have lived across the country from each other for many years, but have remained close through phone calls. Two years ago she began talking politics, and we realized we differ on the topic. I asked her if we could not talk so much about the subject and just "agree to disagree."

Things were fine until she planned a visit to see me and also a friend who agrees politically with her. I told her she was welcome to use my car to see her friend, but I didn't want to go because I knew politics would be brought up. It made her very angry, and she ended up canceling her trip.

We have continued our phone chats, and I stayed with her several days last year to celebrate our brother's birthday. But the bond we had is no longer there. I can feel her and my brother pulling away from me. I'm sure it's because of our political differences.

I don't know how to turn things around. I have never argued with them, but feel they are making me an outsider. How can I get them back without compromising my own views?

Twenty years ago, my sister and I differed on some religious points, and she wanted nothing to do with me for the next two years. It took our mother's death to get us back together. Help! -- LOVES MY TWIN

DEAR LOVES: While you and your twin were womb-mates, nowhere is it written that because of your twinship you must think in unison. For the time being, my advice is to calm down. This being an election year, feelings are running high. Keep the lines of communication open as far as your sister and brother will allow. After the election is over, your relationship may normalize.

However, if it doesn't, then it's important you remember that the experiences we have as we travel life's path can turn even twins into very different people. Accept that, and your heart will be less fragile.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)