DEAR ABBY: I have read your column for many years and enjoy it. The services you offer to the military, such as Operation Dear Abby, are great. However, I'm writing you now because of a disturbing letter I read in your column from Kent D. Myrick of Phoenix, regarding Peace Corps benefits.
I sympathize with Mr. Myrick and all Peace Corps volunteers regarding their lack of recognition for a valuable contribution to all peoples. My problem is with his characterization of military members as "my peers who are trained to go to other nations and subjugate or kill their inhabitants."
I'm a sergeant first class in the U.S. Army and have served my country proudly for 18 years. I had thought that this kind of prejudice against the military was dead. I would like Mr. Myrick to take a moment of his time to research some of the missions that our country's military forces have been involved in during recent years -- operations such as those that have taken place in Somalia, Rwanda, and those currently taking place in the former Yugoslavia. All were operations designed to help countries get back on their feet and, in many cases, to allow the inhabitants to enjoy the freedom that we as Americans enjoy.
This is 1996, and some of the utmost concerns of today's military are peacekeeping and peace enforcement missions. We are currently deployed around the globe providing support to people in need through many different programs. Do we love the people of other lands? See the tears streaming down the face of a 21-year-old specialist as he holds a child in Ethiopia who has just died of malnutrition. You will find his tears are not for himself, but they are the pain of knowing that this tragedy never should have happened.
It's unfair to judge the military and Peace Corps workers as peers. It is through the hard work and diligence of our country's armed forces that we are able to have an organization such as the Peace Corps.
I assure you that while members of the military are trained to fight in the defense of our country, we have many other valuable skills as well.
Thank you for allowing me to voice my opinion. -- SFC CURTIS D. ARCHULETA, HOHENFELS, GERMANY
DEAR SFC ARCHULETA: Thank you for voicing your opinion so politely and without rancor. I received many angry letters about that item. Although I agree with Mr. Myrick that there should be greater rewards for Peace Corps volunteers, I wish to apologize for publishing a letter so filled with outdated political rhetoric.