Chicago’s veterans deserve city department dedicated to their needs

Chicago has had an influx of federal relief funding and enough budget capacity for free bikes, gasoline and Ventra card give-aways, and $500 monthly guaranteed income checks. We should be able to find money to help veterans.

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Chicago’s budget should include a Department of Veterans Affairs, a reader writes.

Chicago’s budget should include a Department of Veterans Affairs, a reader writes.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

It makes operational and fiscal sense to restore veterans in Chicago with their own dedicated services. Ald. Gilbert Villegas’ effort to reinstate the Office of Veterans Affairs is not only noble but a necessary use of out tax dollars to help those who have honorably served our country.

Budgets are a concrete expression of our priorities, and as the City Council gets ready to vote on the proposed city budget, one thing should remain clear: That city government values our veterans so much that it will restore the mechanisms necessary to serve their unique needs with focus and not as part of a larger bureaucracy. The Department of Family and Support Services helps veterans, but also children, seniors, ex-offenders, victims of domestic violence and the homeless.

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While some might make the point that having an umbrella city department for all of these services is efficient, our veterans need their own department that recognizes the value in having staff that are either veterans themselves or have experience working with veterans. New York City has a Department of Veteran Services with it own commissioner — a veteran — and staff to focus on veterans’ needs. This is an example of real commitment and proof that a Chicago office makes sense.

Chicago has had an influx of federal pandemic relief funding and enough budget capacity for free bikes, gasoline and Ventra card give-aways, and $500 monthly guaranteed income checks. We should be able to find the money to help our veterans properly.

As we approach Veteran’s Day on Nov. 11, let’s continue to teach about the sacrifices our veterans made for us and honor them year-round by providing them with resources and services through a Chicago Office of Veteran Affairs.

Froylan Jimenez, Bridgeport

School test scores and the pandemic

I read with concern about our nation’s reading and math scores at the fourth and eighth grade level being affected and declining due to the pandemic.

I’d be interested in knowing what the test scores are for Rhode Island, whose Democratic governor did not close their schools, and Florida and Texas.

That might change the discussion.

Jim Murray, Loop

The price of oil

Oil companies are picking Americans’ pockets! They are scoring record profits and rewarding their stockholders with high dividends rather than allowing us to pay less at the pump.

Republican candidates, many of whom accept large campaign contributions from those same companies, are happy to pin the high price of gasoline on the Democratic Party and President Joe Biden. Voters should think carefully about what they are voting for rather than concentrating on what they are voting against.

Mary F. Warren, Wheaton

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