The American-News welcomes letters of opinion from our readers.

The American-News welcomes letters of opinion from our readers. Letters regarding current local and national news items are encouraged. All letters are subject to editing for length and style. Letters containing potentially libelous or obscene statements will not be published. Letters must contain name, address and phone number for verification and in case of questions. E-mail letters to: Letters may also be mailed to:  Editor, Montevideo Publishing, P.O. Box 99, Montevideo, MN 56265

Consumer power

Thanksgiving is a good time to reflect on the gift of food, the necessity of food and the power of consumer choices of food.

We can’t survive without food. We know that fruit, vegetables and whole grains give us nutrients to be healthier human beings. It is amazing to walk into the hallway next to the Chippewa County Food Shelf, stacked with garden produce, much from God’s Garden in Clara City, volunteer gardeners who grow plants for the purpose of supplying the food shelf. Thanks to them and other local producers, there are apples, zucchini, squash, pumpkins, potatoes, onions and more available for those with stretched budgets. Giving support to the food shelf is a way of showing gratitude for the blessing of bountiful food and it is a source of gratitude for us in times when we need the help.

I recently received a notice from Interfaith Power and Light, urging us to give consideration to a Low Carbon Thanksgiving. Interfaith Power and Light is a Religious Response to Global Warming.   The mission of Interfaith Power & Light is to be faithful stewards of Creation by responding to global warming through the promotion of energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy.

Surprisingly, almost one fifth of greenhouse gas emissions comes from the food industry and our food choices. Roasted turkey at Thanksgiving meals is nearly a sacred tradition. Even so, it is good to be mindful of the impact that this  tradition has on our carbon footprint. An average thanksgiving turkey weighs about 15 pounds, which has the carbon footprint equal to 170 miles driven by car.  According to the United Nations, animal products require 4 to 40 times the calories to produce than they provide in nutrition when eaten, mainly due to the crops they consume. If you can’t go without turkey as a main entree consider keeping the side dishes animal free.

A carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gases, and specifically carbon dioxide, emitted by something (such as a person's activities or a product's manufacture and transport) during a given period.

Where does the U.S. stand in their carbon footprint? China is the number 1 polluter with over a quarter of the world’s carbon emissions, and also 18.6% of the world’s population. The second largest polluting nation is the United States with 4.3% of the world’s population and more than 14% of the total worldwide emissions.  

Back to the power of food choices. Buying local supports our economy and reduces fuel consumption from transporting food. If eating meat, seek to purchase locally grown meat, supporting our area farmers.  Eat more fruit, vegetables and whole grains for your health and the health of our planet. Happy Thanksgiving!

—Vicki Poier


Remember with gratitude

Compliments and gratitude to Montevideo and all the people who put so much time, work and effort into preparing programs, concerts, student art projects, music, meals and countless “thank yous” to honor our veterans this Veterans Day. Montevideo’s pride of our many veterans is outstanding -  and it shows. We are truly a veteran friendly community.

  The article in the November 9, 2017 issue of the American News referred to the veterans community based outpatient clinic in Montevideo. The VA clinic was booked with appointments even before the opening day in 2002. The Montevideo veterans clinic began by serving a seven county area, but by 2007, veterans from sixteen Minnesota counties, North Dakota and South Dakota were coming here for quality care. In 2008, the clinic served 2,574 patients. The excellent, caring medical staff and services provided have both increased since 2002.

  When speaking about available VA benefits, we read “...but very few people try.” Is that because our veterans are unaware of the programs for them? Should a weekly newspaper column, interviews on the local radio station, information nights with state and federal representatives explaining about VA programs, appreciation events, and attendance at monthly service organizations be reinstated? A visible presence at local events is a sign of respect and gratitude. Yes, government paperwork is sometimes long and complicated, but if applications for possible benefits are not made, how can benefits be received? Every attempt is worth a try.

  Thank you for your service and sacrifices, Montevideo veterans. You are appreciated.

—Sandra Anderson


A soldier’s coming home

What does it mean when a soldier male or female comes home from military duty? What do we do to help make a civilian transition work? How do we react? My first response is to thank them for their service to our country. And many times they helped serve, preserve or reestablish a peace to some part of the world. That should be our holy wish no matter what someone has been doing - for how long.

  Over several years I have thanked veterans for their service to our country. We need people who go off and do our bidding on a worldwide basis. To protect, serve, and preserve peace so that you and I can go about our regular daily duties with some real peace-of-mind that some or many are watching our backs without much thought on our part. That’s a tall order and we need to consider our (as individuals and a nation) response to an ever threatened world.

  Our secondary concern is how will that individual refit into a civilian life? They may have many issues which need to be resolved before a peaceful, tranquil, productive life can be established. PTSD is always a concern and needs to be monitored and addressed. Can this individual speak to those who shared the same issues as they? Can they relate to family or friends what they experienced or do they need special help? Many times they may even avoid whom they need to have help them. Then family and friends need to be assertive to help and carry the issue to professional help.

  Other issues are education, housing, immediate income for basic life-needs. A soldier’s pay is not that great. What have they been able to put aside for getting “restarted”? Will they need real education before they start employment? Will they need career counseling before starting on a path of lifelong learning and perhaps career path development? It’s not easy or simple to start over, nor in many cases did they have post-secondary education if they left for the military right after high school graduation. Many military people did.

  Housing or living arrangement is another big concern.

  Will they need to “come back home” and reinsert themselves in a household that has long-since moved on to consider them “out of the household?” Will they get an apartment or do they have a friendly quarters to make adjustments from? Most do not have savings to start purchasing their own home. Do they know where they want to live or start their civilian career? Moving is many times involved.

  Time adjustment is another big issue. Many coming-home soldiers need time to adjust. With whom and where will that happen? Do they have needs that can be addressed where they find themselves or will they need to relocate to find the help they need?

  As we approach Veterans Day please think of whom you may know or not yet know and ask yourself if you can be of help or encouragement to a veteran - young or old. We owe them so very much. Consider this - we can never do too much for our veterans. Thank a veteran.

—Dave Swenson