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Puerto Ricans deserve support

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Dear editor:

I don't have the economic knowledge to respond to all of the comments presented as facts concerning the dynamics of the bankruptcy of Puerto Rico in the guest column by John Grillo on Oct. 8, "Puerto Rico demands generosity." The financial issues are a complex problem that needs solving, but is not unique to Puerto Rico concerning mismanaged political governance. However, I would like to address a few of the points in the guest column and let the reader determine the voracity of the "facts" as written.

Mr. Grillo's comment that the Puerto Ricans complain about response to the support from the U.S. is presented as if P.R. is not part of the U.S. and is expecting charity from the federal government. However, I am confident that by now the strategic response has been much improved since the U.S. military, led by Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, got involved in the aerial support logistics. As Gen. Mattis has said, "they are U.S. citizens, so it is all hands on deck."

Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens and deserve the same support from our government as any other U.S. citizen in time of need in a catastrophe. They pay payroll taxes, which include Social Security and Medicare, so of course, they are currently eligible for these benefits.

They also receive the equivalent of food stamps of which 20 percent can be in cash since some locations in P.R. do not accept the electronic payment. Believe me, if you stand in line for groceries in Puerto Rico, it takes forever to go through the checkout line behind someone using their SNAP card, because stores have to strictly comply with restrictions on usage. As a territory, they do not pay federal income tax, which restricts their federal benefits, one being that they cannot vote in presidential elections. They have a congressional representative that cannot vote, but can serve on committees. However, they have been eligible for every military service draft since World War I.

I am a native Arkansan and Vietnam-era veteran. Many of the fellow soldiers that were drafted when I entered service were from P.R. According to the 2000 census, there are more Puerto Rican veterans than there are from one of the original states, Delaware as well as several other states. The Puerto Rico regiments have been much decorated and have some of their names on a long list of Purple Heart recipients.

Mr. Grillo's column stated that "money should be used for Wounded Warriors and their families and the veterans who have fought for and on behalf of the citizens of the U.S.," I agree. I am sure some of these "Wounded Warriors" from Puerto Rico that have served in every war in service to the United States up to and including the current Middle Eastern conflict (unlike recent U.S. presidents) would be glad to accept the donations called for in the column and not be made to feel as if they "demanded" it.

Kent Harrison

Hot Springs

Editorial on 10/11/2017

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