Updated: December 21, 2012 6:26AM
I watched numerous tributes to my fellow veterans before and during Veterans Day that were moving and long overdue. As a career military man who served during the Vietnam era, I can tell you that what’s needed are jobs and accessible health care for our returning veterans.
The millions spent at football stadiums and on all kinds of local tributes could be better spent creating jobs and simplifying the Veterans Affairs health care system. These returning young warriors need jobs to pay their mortgages and get the medical care they have earned. They can wait on a local monument or another parade or a TV commentator’s praise.
It’s high time that this nation reduce the rhetoric and roll up its collective sleeves and get everyone, especially our veterans, back to work. Praise and accolades do not buy groceries or pay bills or provide a stable future, jobs do.
Michael D. Turay
Master sergeant USAF (retired)
High-speed rail highly popular
In response to the SouthtownStar’s Oct. 25 editorial expressing doubt about the popularity of high-speed rail between Chicago and St. Louis, I am happy to report that the state of Illinois remains excited about the project.
And the excitement is not just a result of the recent successful test run of 110-mph service between Dwight and Pontiac nor of our plan for the public to begin to experience high-speed rail travel over Thanksgiving weekend on that segment of the route.
No, there is much more to it than that. This first high-speed service is a significant step toward meeting ever-increasing public demand for alternatives to the car, and even the airplane. The public clearly sees value today in improved passenger-train service, and we are on the brink of a new era in rail service.
During the last six years, ridership on Amtrak trains supported by the state has nearly doubled to 1.8 million passengers. Chicago-St. Louis ridership alone is up more than 200 percent. Why is this?
Perhaps it’s because passengers on a train can relax or work by computer, phone, email or text, productively and safely. They don’t have to negotiate clogged city roads or drive long distances when drowsy. They don’t have to pay exorbitant parking fees or fuel costs.
Rail travel is the growing preference among young adults, as evidenced by statistics from Western Illinois University in Macomb, a popular stop on Amtrak’s Chicago-Quincy route. An additional daily round-trip added in 2006, along with additional local transit offerings in Macomb, reduced the percentage of WIU students with cars from 80 percent to 60 percent between 1998 and 2012 and the number of campus parking passes issued from 10,500 to 5,600.
The people using and benefiting from improved train service across Illinois are telling us why this is so valuable, if only we will listen to them.
Ann L. Schneider
Illinois Department of Transportation