Our duty is to help service members living with arthritis

Arthritis is rampant in our military, affecting one in three veterans. It is the second leading cause of medical discharge from the U.S. Army, second only to battlefield wounds.

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U.S. Army soldiers from the 82nd Airborne board a C-17 aircraft at Fort Bragg, N.C., to be deployed to the Middle East. AP

Members of our Armed Forces sacrifice a lot for their country, including their health. With help from Congress, we can reduce the physical, financial and societal toll of one of the leading cause of disability for those who serve in our military: arthritis.

Arthritis is rampant in our military, affecting one in three veterans. It is the second leading cause of medical discharge from the U.S. Army, second only to battlefield wounds.

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Yet despite epidemic-level rates, there is no dedicated research budget at the Department of Defense to study arthritis prevention, treatment and cures.

This is a public health crisis that must be addressed by creating a stand-alone arthritis research program at the Department of Defense.

The money’s already there: The Department of Defense operates congressionally dedicated medical research programs for more than 20 diseases, many of which are not specific to military service.

Meanwhile, arthritis competes with 30 other medical topics in a general research budget, so funding is not guaranteed. Congress has the power to set aside $20 million of that existing budget for arthritis research. This research can help us understand how to prevent the injuries that lead to arthritis, reduce the health costs associated with life-long medical care, and unlock new treatments and cures for all Americans living with arthritis and other rheumatic diseases.

Our service members living with arthritis have answered the call to serve their country.

Now it’s time for Congress to ensure their sacrifices are not forgotten.

Arla Potash, Lake View

Address South Shore Metra concerns

A recent assessment in the Sun-Times is misleading and inaccurate regarding the reduction of Metra stops at the 59th Street Station for the University of Chicago. 

The story failed to explain that the 59th Street Station is served by three different lines, University Park, South Chicago and Blue Island.

While it is true that the University Park line stops at 59th Street only three times, at 5:10, 6:10 and 6:25 a.m., the South Shore and Blue Island lines each stop at 59th Street seven times between the hours of 5:23 and 8:35 AM. South Shore commuters lost important evening service the last time the schedule was changed.

It is not possible to ride Metra after attending attending a Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert or Grant Park concert, or any other cultural event unless you wait for the train that leaves Millennium Park at 11:30 PM.

Metra’s explanation at the time was that the average number of passengers in the evening was 11. Yes, but only if the average included both outbound and inbound trains. 

I often ride an outbound train that arrives at South Shore Drive and 71st Street at 6:30 p.m. I can see the inbound train a few minutes later and have never counted more than five or six passengers. 

What is the point of running that train?

Joseph Burgio, South Shore

IHSA should ban pregame handshakes amid coronavirus

I realize that the Illinois High School Association is into promoting good sportsmanship, but are they tone-deaf when dealing with the coronavirus?

As I watched the state championship games this past weekend I saw all the teams participate in a pregame handshake and then, as usual, a postgame handshake.

With the virus spreading and members of the public being told to wash their hands, the players still engaged in the ritual handshake.

Can we please have some common sense and do away with the handshaking? The state tournament series continues this week for boys, and I’m hoping the IHSA will do the right thing.

John Bongiorno, Palatine

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