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Don't rob veterans home to pay state budget

Photo in the Long Island State Veterans Home

Photo in the Long Island State Veterans Home in Stony Brook on the afternoon of February 3, 2011. Credit: Thomas A. Ferrara

It's truly heartbreaking for older veterans like me to read that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo wants to cut millions of dollars from Stony Brook University Medical Center and the Long Island State Veterans Home just at the time when we need it the most ["Guv wants $4.7M from vets home," News, Feb. 10]. When I served in the Pacific Theater in World War II, I knew many heroes. They were the soldiers and sailors who gave their lives or were wounded in battle. All veterans put their lives on the line for our country. For me, as a Coast Guard combat veteran, that meant five shore invasions with the Marines and Army, and almost being thrown overboard when my ship, the USS Cavalier, was torpedoed in the still of a Pacific Ocean night.

I am no longer a teenage sailor. Rather I am an 85-year-old man who owes his life to the care I received at Stony Brook University Medical Center and the Long Island State Veterans Home. Two years ago, when I fell and severely fractured my hip, I needed hip and heart surgery or else I would have been bedridden for the rest of my life. I was a high-risk patient because of my age and illnesses, but the surgeons at Stony Brook were courageous and they gave me a chance. Then it took me almost nine moths of rehabilitation at the Long Island State Veterans Home before I could return home to my wife, Betty. Last year we celebrated our 63rd anniversary together in our own home.

President Abraham Lincoln pledged to "care for him who shall have borne the battle." Now is the time for veterans and Long Islanders to speak up for Stony Brook University Medical Center and the Long Island State Veterans Home. It is a matter of life or death.

Hugh J. B. Cassidy

Stony Brook

As a former Marine, a Vietnam veteran, I was outraged to read about the governor's proposal. To treat the Long Island State Veterans Home as just another one of the state's entities is unfair and cruel.

Long Island has only two options: this 350-bed veterans home or a 120-bed federally run facility in Northport. Forcing the state veterans home to provide the state's general fund with $4.7 million it collects from its patients, along with a 10 percent cut in Medicaid funding, would virtually cripple this facility.

I'm not only insulted myself, I am thinking of those who have come before me and will come after me. We have servicemen and women overseas today fighting for freedom and democracy throughout the world. When they come home, I want them to have the medical attention they need.

Donald Steinert

Rockville Centre